“We are damaging the very resource that we are promoting to our guests” ~ Dr. Rachel Dodds
Dr. Rachel Dodds is a specialist in the field of sustainable tourism who has over 25 years of experience within the tourism sector. Rachel points out that a number of studies indicate tourists are looking for more sustainable travel options and are willing to pay extra for it, however, she also points out, it is often difficult for travelers to find these sustainable travel destinations. If you are looking on the internet and you search for sustainable diving you won’t find very much. So there is a lot of work to do to make sustainable choices more available for travelers.
Trip Advisor, is a key marketing tool and it can make or kill your business
But Rachel says “things are changing rapidly. Think of the rise of Trip Advisor, it is a key marketing tool and it can make or kill your business. That is the power of the consumer. One or two bad reviews, if you don’t correct what you are doing, pretty pictures will not cut it. Consumers vote with their wallets. If they do not come to you, it will not take very long before your business will go under. The Trip Advisor website gets 47 million views a day and they are now starting to promote “green hotels”. That kind of initiative from a big player can really change the way things work. TUY has over 200 travel brands and they are now joining Travel Life and if any of their hotels do not have this certification by 2015 they are going away.”
With climate change the dive industry may have challenging times ahead.
Rachel suggests that with climate change and the dramatic effects it is having on the ocean like coral bleaching and ocean acidification that the dive industry may have challenging times ahead. To transition into a sustainable business you will need to look at tourism in terms of its environmental impact. Rachel says “In the tourism industry we always look in terms of numbers not in terms of yield. Tourism to the Cayman Islands up 10% or Thailand having over a million tourists but you need to think about the impact of those numbers.” Rachel asks “at a marine sanctuary would you prefer to see 50,000 tourists or 5,000 eco-tourists? As a dive operation I would prefer to have less people that paid more and stayed longer, rather than a group that dives ten different destinations in ten days, that is not sustainable anymore.”
Tourists when asked, if they were willing to pay more for sustainable travel, all said yes.
“I recently walked up and down a beach asking tourists questions about what was important to them about their travel destination, most of them didn’t know anything about sustainability but they all cared about the quality of the beach, that the beach was safe and clean. Then I asked if they were willing to pay a tax to insure this and they all said yes, of course, but only if they knew that they were going to do a good job and they knew where the money was going. In Indonesia you pay a marine park tax and 87% of tourists said they did not mind paying the tax because it insured the quality of the environment and they would be willing to come back.”
Dr. Rachel Dodds is an Associate Professor at Ted Rogers School of Hospitality & Tourism Management (Ryerson University) and the Owner-Director of Sustaining Tourism. Rachel has provided consultancy and business advice and research to government bodies, charities, NGOs and private sector organizations worldwide.
She has worked on a number of projects in sustainable tourism, climate change, eco/adventure tourism, research and marketing. She has worked for governments, non-profits, private sector and individuals.
Rachel is the co-author of Sustainable Tourism in Island Destinations and has been published in journals, books and online. She has lived and worked in four continents and visited over 78 countries and is passionate about making sustainable choices both personally and in travel.
The answer to Does the Tourist Care? is an emphatic yes and dive travel operations are at risk if they do not take heed.
Dr. Dodds has informed opinions that are backed up with statistics and studies and personal observation. The answer to the question posed by the title of her talk “Sustainable Travel: Does the Tourist Care” is an emphatic yes and dive travel operations risk their appeal if they do not take heed. To hear Dr. Rachel Dodds’ entire interview go to the the Blue Ocean Summit 2014: Dr. Rachel Dodds.
Visit Dr. Dodds’s website and if you would like to read the reviews of her book Sustainable Tourism in Island Destinations and if you want to support the Blue Ocean community order this book thru the Store and while doing so check reviews on all of our underwater books and films.
Henrik Rosen spent over a decade bringing Wakatobi from an unknown entity into one of the world’s most well-known dive resorts. “What is most satisfactory about what we have accomplished with Wakatobi is we have shown that businesses can accomplish great things not only for their customers but also for the environment. At Wakatobi I feel that we are in a “for-everyone’s-profit business.”
Join Henrik and learn about how he transformed Wakatobi into the famous and sustainable diving destination that it is today. Read Henrik’s article at Ocean Profiles: Henrik Rosen