Responsible tourism: What’s in a label?

12 November, 2019

There is no argument that responsible tourism is gaining steam as sustainability becomes a mainstay of everyday life. But at times travellers could experience challenges in selecting sustainable travel options due the to a lack of accurate labelling.

"Responsible, ethical and sustainable travel can no longer be a niche or luxury, but rather the rallying cry for the entire industry - from the smallest independent operators to the largest companies," The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) stated in its recent report titled 'The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2019'.

CREST cited a 2019 report that determined 70% of global travellers affirmed that they would be more likely to book an accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly. However, 72% are not aware of the existence of eco-labels for vacation accommodations," CREST concluded.

The report highlighted that 37% of global travellers said that an international standard to identify eco-friendly accommodations would encourage them to travel more sustainably, and 62% of those surveyed would feel better about staying in an accommodation that had an eco-label.

Although eco certification standards remain in the early stages of development, eco-labelling "in tourism is widespread in terms of hotel certification and somewhat less so for tour operators, but both are poised to take off as travellers see clear choices for sustainable tourism and businesses increasingly see the value of certification", said CEO of he Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Randy Durband, who was quoted in the CREST report.

After more than two years, the GSTC has developed and refined an accreditation scheme that allows for meaningful eco-labelling, outlined Mr Durband.

There is no doubt GSTC is working to publicise that accreditation scheme, but it remains to be seen how widespread the adoption will become. Gaining that type of certification needs to achieved in a cost efficient manner for the stakeholder aiming to become sustainable tourism providers.