Is your approach to travel GOOD or just good enough?

The growth of tourism as an industry presents both opportunities and challenges. Tourism accounts for approximately ten percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and one in eleven jobs globally. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council Economic Impacts Report 2016, the tourism and travel industry is predicted to grow by around four percent every year. 

The tourism industry has the potential to reduce poverty and inequalities, empower communities, inspire the protection of local cultures and environments, and promote mutual understanding, peace and security. The World Tourism Organisation highlights some of these opportunities in this new website created to celebrate the International Year of Sustainable Tourism. 

Although much of the tourism sector continues to be driven primarily by profit, more and more travellers are demanding travel experiences that have a positive impact on the places they visit. So how do you find GOOD tourism businesses when you're travelling?

The Green Globe Standard

One option for finding GOOD tourism businesses is by looking for respected accreditations or certifications.

Green Globe is one well-recognised global certification programme, which assesses and monitors the sustainability of tourism businesses and their supply chain partners. The Green Globe Standard includes 44 core criteria supported by over 380 compliance indicators. The criteria focus on four key areas; sustainable management, social/economic, cultural heritage, and environmental.

The Movenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach Phuket is a Green Globe certified hotel that received the highest score in Southeast Asia in 2016. We spoke to the Marketing Communication Manager, Stefano Colombo about what this meant for their hotel:

“We received Gold Status as a Green Globe hotel as we have achieved this certification every year for the last five years running,” Stefano explains. Gold Status is only possible when a member meets all criteria within the Green Globe Standard for Travel & Tourism and completes independent and mandatory audits every few years.

The Movenpick Resort & Spa is involved in a large variety of sustainable tourism initiatives and has also formed several partnerships with other organisations to extend their social and environmental impact, including supporting the SOS Children’s village. Stefano acknowledged how Movenpick uses local suppliers and supports community organisations.

We use local suppliers. Our fruit, vegetables, seafood and chicken all come from Phuket. Some vegetables are sourced from our own gardens too. We employ 27 gardeners, and all are local Thai people. In fact, of our 450 staff only about five percent are not Thai. It is also important to support the community in other ways, so we are partnered with the SOS Children’s Village and support them full time.

The challenges with accreditation

Stefano acknowledges the effort required to achieve Gold Status as a Green Globe hotel. “It means we need to submit annual reports every year to maintain our Green Globe certification and Gold Status. We report on things like energy and water use, community development and local employment. There are other things we do too, for example we try to limit fossil fuels by using only electric vehicles in the resort, including tuk tuks and an electric limousine. The only exception is our fire truck which runs on petrol in case of emergency. We also try to maintain a natural environment with our gardens. We have more than 160 varieties of plants and flowers, including some native endangered species.”

However, for many local or small businesses there may be too much cost or effort involved with such accreditation programmes. This can be a barrier for entry to the sustainable tourism market. A report on sustainable urban tourism low-carbon initiatives acknowledged how some small- to medium-sized cities lack the skills and resources required for scientific or independent assessments.

Our top tips for finding GOOD

1. Look for respected certifications or accreditations

Globally-recognised certifications such as Green Globe and the Rainforest Alliance are one great way to find GOOD tourism businesses. We also recommend looking into national or regional certification programmes, which are sometimes more affordable for small businesses to join. One example is Fair Trade Tourism, a non-profit organisation that works in Africa to promote responsible and sustainable tourism.

2. Use ethical tourism business directories

Alongside accreditation programmes, there are a growing number of online platforms that enable travellers to search for GOOD tourism businesses. One example recently set up by Tourism Concern is the Ethical Travel Guide, which provides an online guide that can be searched by location. This guide also includes some great country-specific tips on how to be a GOOD traveller in different destinations.

At GOOD Travel, we're also currently developing a partnership with the Stamp Travel App to enable travellers to "stamp" GOOD tourism businesses that may be off the beaten track or not yet part of global directories.

3. Read the About Us section on websites

Reading the ‘About Us’ section (or equivalent) on a tourism business' website, can also help you to get an idea of their business purpose and learn about their story. This can often help you to identify what motivates their business efforts.

4. Ask questions

Not all GOOD businesses actively promote their impact. So as GOOD travellers it's also really important to ask questions. By asking hotels, tour operators and restaurants about how they're working towards more sustainable and ethical business practices, you'll not only be making sure that you're supporting GOOD businesses but you're also showing businesses that there is demand for sustainable practices. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Do you support your local community in any way?
  • How do you help and protect children/youth in your community?
  • Have you received any recognition for having sustainable tourism practices?
  • Can you tell me about your supply chain (i.e. your suppliers)? Do you know how your suppliers source their ingredients/ products/ wood/ textiles etc.?
  • What are your waste policies? Do you reduce, re-use or recycle?
  • Do you measure your carbon footprint? If not, why not?
  • What employment policies do you have in place for staff? Do they have a fair wage, and opportunities for development or education?
By asking hotels, tour operators and restaurants about how they're working towards more sustainable and ethical business practices, you'll not only be making sure that you're supporting GOOD businesses but you're also showing businesses that there is demand for sustainable practices. 

5. Write reviews that highlight GOOD

Sharing your experience visiting sustainable tourism businesses is a great way to demonstrate growing demand for sustainable practices. We recommend highlighting examples of GOOD that you come across when you review a tourism business. For example, if you're writing a review on TripAdvisor, why not write about how great it was to see fair trade coffee being served or how you were pleased to learn that all the produce for the restaurant was being sourced locally?

Do you have any additional tips? We'd love to hear them! Please share them with us in the comments section below.

July 23, 2023
5 min read