Following our first series of our responsible travel and that you are now bent on becoming responsible travelers.
Our second series puts its focus on the destination entity i.e. how the destination can encourage responsible travel. There is so much destinations can do, in fact listing the do’s would be endless. Not to worry though, we will be glad to give tips on how to be a responsible travel destination. So we will try a different approach.
What destinations should do to steer clear from green washing.What is greenwashing?
Green washing is disinformation that is disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible image i.e. a marketing gimmick.
The causes for greenwashing in travel are no different than in other sectors. Businesses run the risk of falling into the greenwash trap while attempting to increase sales to create differentiation in a highly commoditized travel market.
1. The hidden trade off. A claim suggesting that a product is ‘green’ based on a narrow set of attributes without attention to other important environmental issues. An eco-lodge should have standards and policies they adhere to complying with responsible tourism.
An environmental claim that cannot be substantiated by easily accessible supporting information or by a reliable third party certification. Join an eco tourism or responsible travel organization where your lodge can be rated without prejudice and the ratings made public.
3. Vagueness -a claim that is so poorly defined or broad that its real meaning is likely to be misunderstood by the consumer
4. Worshiping false labels. A product that, through either words or images, gives the impression of third party endorsement where no such endorsement exists (fake labels). There are hundreds of global tourism eco labels, certifications, accreditations, guidelines and codes of ethics that are adopted by destinations, hotels, transportation and attractions. The lack of an easily recognized certification can lead to the impression that the tourism product is certified “green” when no proper information is provided as to how it is achieved and audited.
5. Irrelevance an environment a claim that may be truthful but is unimportant or unhelpful for consumers seeking environmentally preferable products e.g. recycling. Let your guests know what you recycle, how you recycle, why you recycle and how they use the recycled product or how the recycled product is of benefit if not to them, then to the community. It is not enough to tell your guests that you recycle. Show them the impact of recycling.
6. Lesser of two evils
A claim that may be true within the product category, but that risks distracting the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of the category as a whole. What emits less carbon? A car, a train or a plane? Bottom line is that all of these forms of transports are powered by non-renewable energy and it ultimately comes down to relative choices about which option is less harmful to the environment.
Environmental claims that are simply false. This is the least committed sin. Or it could be that it is hard to prove because the lodge’s documents are private and cannot be viewed.