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The Environmental Issues for Tour Operators

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Unsophisticated, inexperienced holiday tourists of the 1960s and 1970s, and with a strongly growing demand for hat were then new and fashionable resorts, it was possible for tour operators to take for granted the quality of the environ!Uent. But, however unacknowledged, environmental quality was always a very powerful motivation in the majority of visitors' minds. We predict that more sophisticated buyers in the mature market conditions of the next decade "-will shift environmental quality toward the fore front of their decision processes. Marketing logic indicates that, in the growing competition for the leisure tourism market, the quality of the environment is a leading factor for product and destination differentiation and for customer choice. Value-added product formulation and premium pricing is the only available way to produce good profits and surpluses for environmental protection. It is the credible and sustainable approach for modern market circumstances. By the late 1990s, the more farSighted tour operators clearly recognise the issue As Martin Brackenbury (President of IFTO) put it in the quote that introduces this chapter, anyone supplying holidays is going to have their activities scrutinized for their compatibility with the ethic of sustainable tourism. To put those words into effective action, it follows logically that for any destination where tour operators' packages represent more than, say, 25 per cent of the total leisure market and are growing, it is essential to: Develop local partnerships to. link tour operators with hotels and other suppliers of tourism services having vested interests in the future of the destination, and with the other stakeholders in the destination's future, especially municipal authorities and the representatives of local residents. Develop specific environmental targets through the partnerships, including capacity limits, codes of conduct, and regulatory agreements applying as ground rules to all tour operators and suppliers. These agreements will in corporate international and national regulations as well as any developed especially for the local environment. In other words creating a le'lel playing field, on which all the competing' tour operators and suppliers must play. Develop as part of tour operators' procurement policies environmental performance standards expected of local suppliers, recognizing the vitally important product specification and capacity-contracting role the operators play. Such an approach would mirror that of leading retail chains and car manufacturers, which now specify and monitor the environmental standards required of their suppliers. Provide incentives that reward auditing of tour operators' business practices, especially if they include an airline and travel agents within their operation, applying the Ten R's introduced in previous chapters. A proactive partnership approach as outlined above provides the practical means whereby private sector businesses can be obliged to meet minimum environmental standards, which they will otherwise tend to ignore.


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