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Sustainable tourism: “A winning strategy for the long run” according to J.-F. Rial

Assessment of the 9th international sustainable tourism day


The participants of the ninth edition of the international sustainable tourism day explored different ways to promote the thematic this year. While recognizing that as of today, their approaches are far from being profitable or attractive to clients. But these pioneers are working towards the future of tourism and will become, in the years to come, examples to follow in the industry.



The international sustainable tourism day: a great window for all of those who are working for tomorrow’s tourism  - DR : Photo-libre.fr
The international sustainable tourism day: a great window for all of those who are working for tomorrow’s tourism - DR : Photo-libre.fr
It is not always easy for a sustainable tourism professional to be in high spirits.

Indeed, the efforts spent over many years are not always rewarded. And the never-ending labels and other licences do not necessarily attract clients.

“Travelers do not pick a tour-operator based on its solidarity commitments. However, I’m convinced that this strategy will be a winner in long run,” explains Jean-François Rial, CEO of Voyageurs du Monde.

While waiting to reap the fruits of this commitment, devoted professionals keep on investing time and money to get to the level.

Let’s take the example of the strategy developed at Nomade Aventure, that decided, amongst others, to limit the weight of Nepalese porters or to increase their pay.

Decisions that are not necessarily profitable and that increase the price of a trip, but that are in line with the philosophy of the adventure agency.

How to talk about one’s actions in favor of sustainable tourism?

During the ninth edition of the international sustainable tourism day, the participants explored the different ways to promote their actions.

Here again, there’s no winning strategy, professionals don’t always know how to communicate or simply hesitate to talk about it, out of fear of being blamed of greenwashing.

“Being responsible doesn’t mean being perfect all over,” explains Geneviève Clastres, journalist for the website voyageons-autrement.

“Some do not dare to communicate on their approaches because they haven’t reached their goals.

But I believe, on the contrary, that is it relevant to talk about the evolution of a project and to opt for a more humble and credible stance,” adds Agnès Rambaud, Director of the office of Enjeux et des Hommes, godmother of this international sustainable tourism day.

A recommendation that could apply the members of Cap France, dedicated since 2004 in the label Chouette Nature.

They would like for their various commitments to be better known publicly to be able to use them as selling points.

Véronique Lelievre, the person in charge of this approach, understands their hurry but would rather be cautious.

“We have to be careful with the way in which we communicate because that could discourage clients. For example, some are not always happy to have to bring back their picnic boxes at night in order to reuse them.”

Agnès Rambaud attempts to boost morale. “Those who have anticipated the challenges of sustainable development will be prepared for when these issues will become unavoidable and will be extended to all sectors of society.”

Especially since the demand is already there, particularly in business tourism where calls for bids to organize congresses now include this type of criteria.

Same goes for luxury establishments, for which the sustainable approach is considered as something obvious, even though it is rarely highlighted.

The crucial promotion in favor of sustainable tourism

Yet, promoting the initiatives relating to sustainable tourism seems essential to make this mode of consumerism something obvious for clients.

The CRT of Brittany launched a website specifically dedicated to the topic that has a listing of 200 hotels and restaurants. However, it is struggling to attract internet users.

“We record around 40,000 visits annually, which is quite little. We’re wondering if it is relevant to fuse this website with the main portal of the CRT,” explains Caroline Heller, the Sustainable Development Manager of the organization.

Another initiative is the MOOC eco-tourism, initiated by Eric Raulet, the Director of Défismed.

It consists of seven weeks of classes to understand the different approaches to eco-tourism through concrete examples revealed by fifteen instructors.

“The more the media and society will address this thematic, the higher the demand will become” assures Antoine Richard, co-founder of the agency Double Sens, organizer of solidarity trips.

He insists that half of his clientele had never heard of solidarity travel before getting onboard with him. “We are creating a new market,” he rejoices.

This wonderful success puts a smile back to all of those who sometimes doubt the relevance of their efforts.

Written by Laury-Anne CHOLEZ translated by Joséphine Foucher the 04/06/2015
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