Growth and Sustainability: Friends or Foes

Is eco-tourism a trend that would eventually fade away? Even though the concept of sustainable travelling is growing rapidly, and becoming more and more popular among the tourists, the problem is that this same growth could result into the self-destruction of green tourism. No matter how careful you are in preserving the natural area, that the camping or the hotel is situated at, some negative effect is inevitable. In the age when there are almost no unreachable places left on earth, when any person from any part of the world can reach even the most hidden places of nature, the necessity of the sustainable tourism is clear more than ever. The main issue is, how you manage the growth and the philosophy of sustainability, making it still attractive for tourism companies, but limiting its effect on the environment.

There are several obvious solutions that seem to be fixing the main problems, like limiting the tourist flow, by increasing the prices of the allowances to enter national parks, managing group tourism etc. By making Eco-tourism less accessible, it would be possible to manage the people easily, to educate them about the main insights that Eco-tourism proposes. Moreover, increasing the price for the Eco-tourism to a certain realistic level, would be a good benefit and push for the companies to enter the market, for they would understand that being sustainable and profitable at the same time not only possible in the future prospective, but is HERE and NOW.

For example, nowadays a lot of hoteliers and hotel companies including Optimal Hotels & Residences propose rural tourism as an alternative to mass tourism. They give clients an opportunity to stay far from cosmopolitans, surrounded by nature and tranquility in a luxury hotel (5 or 4 star, or even a boutique hotel). This type of tourism can be very expensive, for the level of service that the guests experience during their stays is unique. For instance, Optimal Hotel Son Burgués (Petra, Mallorca) would open very soon, which proposes this type of unique experience. The property has sustainability project, which is realized by the installing of solar panels to use solar energy in the hotel. This hotel would represent the key benefits of these types of projects: cost-reduction on the resources, sustainability and unique experience in the rural environment for the customers, innovation as a key to success etc.

On the other hand there is another big problem, which is the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy that is being applied by more and more companies in the world, but most of the time only on paper; in reality few of the companies truly follow the CSR, more using it as a legal cover from the governmental institutions. In this case, it is important to establish a clear understanding of the penalties and requirements that follow CSR. If the penalty price overcomes the amount of money needed for implementing a simple sustainable project, the owners would see the benefit of those innovations, rather than pay the fee and continue the chosen policy.

Unfortunately, all of those measures could be deadly to the eco-tourism industry if not implemented correctly. If the sector becomes too unreachable to the customers, they would lose interest and eventually the market would be emptied. So, the key mechanism that would keep the system functioning effectively is the perfect balance between the reasonable growth and preservation. Lately it has been a lot of concern about this balance, mainly about how to keep it steady, since the industry grew so rapidly, and not many people really thought about it in the beginning.

Even though, logically, the more sustainable tourism we have the better it is, if you look closely, and evaluate all for and against points, the results are not that appealing. The more it grows, the more self-destructive it becomes.

The bottom line is that we need the sustainable tourism vitally, but apart from that it is time that we start preserving not only the environment, but also the eco-tourism itself, for the unique experiences that it proposes are essential to the healthy development of the modern society.

So, to sum up and answer the question, if growth and sustainability are friends or foes, we must say that they obviously should be friends. They should be equal partners, so that they support one another, and bring benefits both to the environment and businesses.