Greenwashing in tourism is basically eyewash to deceive tourists into believing in certain tall claims. These claims are hyped by travel agents and organizations benefiting from tourism. Here there is something about questioning the validity of certain terms pertaining to tourism like:
- Conscious and other terms assisting the local community and environment brought about by methods honored in tourism.
Greenwashing in tourism is now a rampant practice among key players; it is a marketing exercise to fatten the bottom line. Drawing tourists is sometimes achieved with unethical practices. But for common tourists not trained enough to recognize symptoms of fake tourism, it is a growing threat. It would always fall as a trap to capture their fancy and desires.
Greenwashing in tourism, an underlying menace:
Tourists are often under a fake notion as if their presence is contributing towards the welfare of the tourist destination they are visiting. To the contrary, tourism is doing more harm than good to the local environment. At least, falsely promoted green tourism is not delivering goods it was supposed to.
Greenwashing in tourism is built on unscrupulous premises with intent to swindle the tourists with eco-friendly claims linked with tourism itself. The concept is far too convoluted for ordinary tourists to comprehend the significance.
It embraces a range of functional units benchmarked with specific targets involving energy conservation, waste management, reduction of carbon footprints, contribution towards the local economy, preservation of environment, and other eco-friendly measures. Whether procedural mapping of a specific itinerary is aimed towards achieving these targets is quite arduous for identification.
As a source of help, many online agencies exist that point out the pros and cons of a travel plan. They ascertain with a fair degree of transparency if tourism to a destination is being promoted keeping travel sustainability in view. Or is it just another instance of fake tourism focused on profiteering rather than subscribing towards local community?
Accreditation and certification in tourism:
As a way of justification to judge the trustworthiness of sustainable tourism commitments, some organizations follow a methodical approach. They go in length exploring if greenwashing in tourism is being employed to create pseudo value of a tourism project. These organizations have a standard litmus test procedure to check how well specific tourism is performing against the established benchmark.
On the basis of a thorough appraisal, green certificates are issued that turn into guidelines for tourists. It becomes a matter of choice for tourists to go for a travel proposal or not – based upon the strength of the certificate.
Benefits of such accreditation are that the certifying authority can create a norm for tourism ethics. These norms back the industry players up in their effort to incorporate an element of sustainability in tourism projects.
The disadvantages are, this certification is not mandatory. Naturally, they do not match up to rewards compared to costs, efforts and time devoted. They do not come with the force of an audit, they are largely optional.
Greenwashing in tourism, a pandemic bird’s eye view:
The murky shadow of greenwashing in tourism is emerging with an early warning signal across the globe. The dire need to wake up to unethical practices is imperative. And so are the needs to explore avenues of restitution before it gets too late. Greenwashed tourism will be causing irreversible damage to the environment in near future.
However, there is a note of optimism in current scenario. Many organizations and NGOs are becoming aware of damages greenwashing in tourism can deliver. Green slogans like preventing falling biodiversity, global warming, over population and defilement of environment have been burning issues.
They have been true eye-openers in our journey to spotting greenwashing in tourism. The endeavor to condemn and stay clear of such tourism practice motives will be a move in right direction. Our struggle to turn the universe into a better, safer and healthier place to live in is the need of the hour.
Cues of greenwashed tourism:
- Ask what proportion of profit earned by the tour organizers are devoted to the upliftment of local communities.
- What are the steps taken to conserve local flora and fauna?
- What is the annual volume of tourist visit? Is there a limit to the number to control pressure of tourism on the environment?
- Are local people employed and food for tourists sourced from local farms?
- What is the carbon emission policy? Is there any effort to bring down carbon footprints?
- Is the tourism company involved in community-based projects?
- Does the travel company hold a green certificate from a competent authority?
Sustainable tourism efforts should have a holistic approach. A sincere endeavor by one segment in the industry can be frustrated by the callous attitude of another segment of industry.
Vague words have no place in sustainable tourism. Transparency is expected in connection with each term promised to endorse the green spirit. Technical jargons to avoid responsibility and avoid litigation should be booked.
It is a fact that for a travel company to go green is time-consuming. However, a tourist can always ask when did the journey start? From its current performance, it can be adjudged if the travel company is going slowly towards realizing green goals.
Examples of green traveling sins:
There are a number of examples in tourism where going green commitment is either violated or attended with half-hearted efforts that defeats the primary objective. Here we go:
A latent trade-off:
A claim to hype eco-friendly procedures followed could be based upon a single feature. Yet the green effort can miss out some other features that badly need attention as well. For sustainable tourism, we are talking whole and not a part.
Lack of proof:
A green certification is not always available. A supposedly green hotel can cheat on its claim to serve organic food. Who is present to vouch for the claim with corroborative evidence?
This stands for fake claims on sustainable tourism. It is easy to misinform tourists mixing lie with some traces of truth.
Travel operators might be doing well to go green on one aspect of tourism that has no significance to you. Irrelevant green efforts don’t pay off when tourism industry as a whole is considered.
Upholding false labels:
It is pointless to have high regards for tourism products falsely claiming to have certification from the competent authority.