In recent years, people become more aware of their actions impacts and tourism industry is not an exception. Therefore, travel companies adopted green marketing strategies as a way to differentiate and attract new customers.
Words like “eco-friendly”, “green” and “sustainable” are common among tour operators and hotels, but not all of them are truly committed in protecting the environment. Some of them use these marketing strategies as a way to gain more profits and improve their image among possible clients. Others just truly believe some small initiatives, like recycling, make them a sustainable company, but that is not true! A company must be sustainable at all components of the business! If that doesn’t happen “green” will just become a common word with no deep meaning and tourists can lose confidence about ecotourism.
But when is it considered that a company is greenwashing?
The Greenwashing Index says that company is greenwashing if:
“(…)spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact.”
What can you do?
Imagine you are looking for a birdwatching tour in the Algarve. You came cross five different companies that offer these types of tours and they all claim to be eco-friendly. Are they all truly sustainable? These tricks can help you choose wisely.
- Third Party Certifications
Look for certifications is the first thing you can do. These certifications are given by an independent third party that evaluate according to different parameters if the company is sustainable. But not having a certification does not mean the company is not “green”, as these certifications are paid and not all companies are willing to pay for that.
- Make questions
So if the company doesn´t have a third party certification you can ask for proof. If a company claims to be environmental sustainable they must be able to explain why: Do they have a written environmental plan? What percentage of annual profit is invested in environmental conservation? Is there a limited number of tourists per tour to minimize environmental impact in the region? Do they employ local people and buy locally-sourced products?
- Analyse the company as a whole
Recycling is important but it does not make a company green. You must look deeper as a whole. For example: the company may employ locals, use a hybrid car but when in the field do they follow the paths and respect wildlife? Without a holistic approach, tourism is only superficially green.
Spread awareness and give feedback
Going thought all this research may be exhausting and not everyone is willing to do it. So it is important to spread the word. Ecotourim Australia says that:
One of the most meaningful things tourists can do is to share ecotourism experiences (positive or negative) with friends, family and others in their network. What did you learn about the environment you visited? Did your stay respect it? Did your trip contribute to the wellbeing of local communities?
Your experience will help others to make more informed decisions and will help ecotourism and sustainable companies to grow.
Did you find this post relevant? Shared it!
Thank you for reading!