The Rise of Sustainable Tourism and Why It Matters

Traditional destination marketing is nearing extinction — and that’s a good thing.

As the world becomes more conscious of the impact of human activity on the environment, destination marketing strategies are shifting away from general destination promotion towards destination protection.

Lindsay Moore, Vice President of Client Partnerships at Augustine Agency, says, “When it comes to marketing a destination, a focus on sustainability is no longer a ‘nice to have.’ Today’s travelers are more eco-conscious than ever, and it’s imperative that destination marketers genuinely and authentically infuse this thinking into their brand. It’s important to ensure responsible marketing and shift efforts to focus heavily on destination management.”

The Importance of Sustainable Tourism

With the increasing global population and environmental degradation, the need for sustainable tourism has become more urgent than ever. Marketers have a role and responsibility to keep that balance in check.

Unregulated tourism activities can damage fragile ecosystems, cause pollution and exploit natural resources — leading to negative environmental and social impacts.

Sustainable tourism addresses these issues by promoting sustainable development, protecting natural and cultural resources, and empowering local communities. By embracing sustainable tourism practices, destinations can reduce their ecological footprint, create economic opportunities for local communities and preserve their cultural heritage. This can help ensure tourism activities’ sustainability, benefitting both the environment and local communities now and in the future.

Be Part of the Solution, Not the Pollution.

Cathy Nanadiego, Group Account Director at Augustine Agency, says, “Including sustainable efforts in your marketing communications not only gives your potential visitors information on how to be responsible travelers but also shows communities that you want to protect the region for future generations to enjoy. When locals feel like they’re being heard and know that it’s important to the destination marketing organizations, they’re more likely to support marketing efforts and embrace visitors when they come, improving the overall experience for travelers.”

While it first appears contrary to time-honored measurements, it’s important for destination marketers to understand the many benefits of Sustainable Tourism.

Sustainable Tourism and Its Benefits

Sustainable tourism has many benefits for destinations — and for travelers, as well, such as:

  • Environmental Conservation
    Sustainable tourism promotes responsible and ethical tourism practices that protect the environment. This includes reducing waste, conserving natural resources, and minimizing pollution. By adopting sustainable tourism practices, destinations can protect the environment and preserve its natural beauty for future generations.
  • Economic Development
    Sustainable tourism creates economic opportunities for local communities, particularly in rural areas. By supporting local businesses, sustainable tourism can provide employment opportunities, improve the standard of living and reduce poverty. This can also help to diversify local economies, reducing dependence on a single industry.
  • Cultural Preservation
    Sustainable tourism helps preserve cultural heritage by promoting responsible and respectful tourism practices. This includes supporting local traditions, customs, and festivals, as well as preserving historical sites and respecting local beliefs and customs. Sustainable tourism can help maintain a destination’s authenticity and uniqueness by promoting cultural preservation.
  • Unique and Meaningful Travel Experiences
    Sustainable tourism provides travelers with more unique and meaningful travel experiences. By engaging with local communities and learning about their culture, history and way of life, travelers can better understand the places they visit. This can lead to more authentic and fulfilling travel experiences.
  • Improved Reputation and Brand Image
    Destinations that adopt sustainable tourism practices can improve their reputation and brand image. By promoting sustainable tourism, destinations can differentiate themselves from competitors, attract more responsible travelers, and enhance their overall brand image. Research shows that more than 50% of travel consumers consider sustainable tourism options important when making travel purchase decisions.

Leave a Positive Footprint Wherever You Go

Strategies that provide valuable contributions to economic stability, community sovereignty and environmental health are the new “heads in beds.”

This necessary shift may feel disruptive but offers marketers an unmatched new importance to their work. Future destination strategies will include responsibility not just for the number of visitors but also for the types of tourists and habits of all visitors.

That type of positivity should never go extinct.