Is Sustainable Tourism Profitable?

by Katiana Murillo

” Sustainable Tourism is not only profitable, but a current trend”

A study by the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) ​​entitled “The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends and Statistics 2015”, collects data from various research sources showing that sustainable tourism is not only profitable, but a growing trend.

Here are some examples:

47% of business travelers prefer to stay in hotels with green certificates, according to a Timetric 2013 survey.

According to a study by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the percentage of companies in the US with travel reservation policies that require or recommend a hotel that has adopted sustainability measures has risen from 11% in 2011, to 19% today.

66% of consumers of tourism products around the world say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society, according to a 2012 survey by Nielsen Wire. Of these, 46% are willing to pay an extra cost for corporate social responsibility practices.

A survey by Trip Advisor (2012-2013) showed that most companies (91%) believe it is important to operate in an eco-friendly way. Businesses in North and South America are more likely to think that it is important to carry out such practices. And 77% of businesses are currently developing this type of action to reduce the impact of its activities on the environment.

A 2012 report from The Travel Foundation and Forum for the Future identified six key benefits that tourism businesses gain by adopting sustainable practices: reduced costs and greater efficiency, risk management and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, staff involvement in corporate social responsibility practices (which has proven to be an engine for employee satisfaction), obtaining a competitive advantage by offering differentiated experiences to customers, compliance with trends in consumer demand and business protection to also conserve the environment on which it depends.

A 2012 study from the Forum for the Future and The Travel Foundation said that beyond the question of who is responsible for protecting a destination as a tourism product, a more holistic approach is now emerging: the idea of destinations partnerships. Instead of one party holding the responsibility for protecting a destination, it is now a multi-sectoral approach where all parties are stakeholders in a destination as a resource, and they see how they can work together to achieve a goal of sustainability. This applies also to protect and adapt destinations to the effects of climate change without losing brand equity, competitiveness, income and cost savings.

What is certain is that these studies show that something all stakeholders have in common is that the sustainability of the business only makes sense if it ensures the sustainability of the destination. Otherwise, both are destined to fail…