Monday, 19 September 2011

A simple misunderstanding?

A couple of weeks ago, a company that shall remain nameless, contacted me on twitter, saying they’d be interested in being listed on  I did the usual thing of checking over their website to see who they were, what they do and what their “eco” credentials were.  Other than offering what look liked very attractive excursions on the great barrier reef, they actually had nothing in their offering to guests, that was actually geared towards either minimising their impact on their immediate environment, improving their immediate environment, or improving the wider environment.  It wasn’t the first time I had encountered an “eco” lodge without any “eco” credentials. 

While researching eco accommodations to list on, we found plenty of so called “Eco Lodges” which were small operations whose "eco" dimension was that they were small, but that was the most environmentally positive thing that could be said for them.  As time has moved on, we’ve found the overwhelming majority of places positioning themselves as “eco-friendly” or “green” accommodations, have made a reasonable attempt to live up to those terms.  

It can always be argued that some people will always stick on a label that is current, or that they think will help sell their hotel or lodge.  You need to only look at the word luxury and see how often it is applied to hotels, and see how; in many cases it isn’t really accurate.  But I honestly think there are people out there amongst the hospitality trade who do not really know what ecotourism actually is.  And that is surprising, as it is growing area of travel and number of guests or travellers who do know what the word means are part of that growth.  So if you do use the word as a tag to attract business without any clear eco credentials I think you will actually start to see your business suffer, especially as guests who feel short changed post comments on TripAdvisor.  

But to go back to my initial reason for posting, when I sent a tweet back to the company operating on the great barrier reef, saying we’d be happy to list them once I could see on their website their eco credentials, I got no response and when I checked my followers list, they had unfollowed us.  Were they guilty of a little bit of conscious “greenwashing” or were they just under the misapprehension that “eco” can mean anything where nature is involved, I guess I’ll never know.  But thankfully, I think one by one making a case for a “misunderstanding” is just getting that little bit harder.  

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