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Proposal for Preparation of a Tourism Plan or Policy

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Tourism Planning Environments

Assignment 2 – Proposal for preparation of a tourism plan or policy

Due Date: Week 8

Position Statement

“Climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing tourism today. Australia’s tourism industry, like all sectors, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. The industry is also susceptible to climate change impacts, with some of Australia’s most iconic natural attractions and World Heritage Areas particularly sensitive to changes in climate conditions” (Australian Government website, 2010). “Tourism is fundamental to Australia’s economy. The direct GDP contribution of the tourism industry was $38.9 billion in 2006-07. However, many of these tourism-related goods and services contribute to significant GHG emissions. (Tourism Australia, 2008).

As stated by Tourism Queensland, 2009, “internationally and domestically our competitors are gearing up so they can promote themselves as climate friendly destinations. Queensland must act if we are to be competitive”. They have also stated ways to make this a reality. Some actions include: Promote environmentally responsible and safe use of your product/service to visitors; monitor the sustainability performances of main competitors; pursue a carbon neutral option for your product or service.

Tourism Queensland was established in 1979 (Tourism Queensland, 2009), Tourism Queensland is a statutory body under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Tourism. This is an extremely successful body which continues to grow year by year. The role of Tourism Queensland is to promote Queensland tourism and to act in what is in the best interest of not only Queensland Tourism, but also Australian tourism. This is the body which is moving towards a better environmental future for tourism, Australia and the world.

A policy is required to address the impacts that tourism is having on the environment and its contribution the global warming. The starting point it to address the need for the accommodation and hospitality sector to have strict guidelines and procedures in place for all properties to adhere to strict rules and regulations in regards to water, waste and energy management.

The creation of a policy for a ‘rated environmental scheme for the accommodation and hospitality sector’ aims to achieve:

➢ Reducing the ‘carbon foot-print’ of all accommodation types and hospitality industries by having a set star rated environmental scheme in place. This will ensure that all properties need to at least adhere to the most basic guidelines in order to operate

➢ Educate and motivate the industry to be aware of their environment and their role in creating a better one. Not only from the view point of the industry and the staff, but also the consumers of the products.

➢ A competitive market place where consumers have a choice as to where they choose to go based on how environmentally friendly the property is, to push the industry to see past the short-term goals and look into the future.

It may only be a small step in the scheme of things, however the tourism industry and one of the largest industries worldwide.

Background Information

Effects of Tourism on Climate Change

Global climate change is probably the most severe environmental threat that we face in the 21st century (Perry, 2003). The UNWTO recently observed “that tourism is both a significant contributor to climate change and global warming and a potential victim” (Mc Kercher., et al 2010), 4.9% of global emissions were attributed to the tourism sector (Pham., et al, 2010).Our lifestyles, economies, health and social wellbeing are all affected by climate change, and although the consequences of climate change will vary on a regional basis, all nations and economic sectors will have to contend with the challenges of climate change through adaptation and mitigation. Tourism is no exception and in the decades ahead, climate change will become an increasingly pivotal issue affecting tourism development and management (Scott, 2007).

According to Wei & Ruys (cited Kattara 2002) “the hospitality industry is a major user of land, generates a considerable amount of waste and consumes significant quantities of water, energy, food, cleaning materials and other resources in its routine operations”. In recent years the impact that tourism has on the environment has been heavily bought into the light putting pressure on the industry to make changes. “The industry should seriously start to consider its role in environmental issues, as future prosperity depends more and more on the natural environment” (Wei & Ruys cited Kattara 2002).

According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), 1998, “tourism operations have a direct impact on the environment”. This starts with the construction of new developments and continues during daily management and operations. Tourism facilities are resource intensive: they are large consumers of water and energy, and generate significant volumes of waste, emissions and waste matter.

Srinivas, 2001, provides some ways in which tourism impacts on climate change. The tourism industry overuses water resources, and this is one of the most critical natural resources. This can be for hotels, swimming pools, golf courses and personal use of water by tourists. “Excessive water use can degrade or destroy local water resources, threatening the availability of water for local needs” (Sweeting, 2010). Energy management is another important issue. According to Sweeting, 2010, hotels use significant amounts of energy for daily operations and recreational activities. “The vast majority of hotels and resorts meet their energy needs by purchasing energy produced through burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), which contribute to local air pollution and global climate change”.

Wastewater management is another environmental issue. Hotels can produce significant quantities of wastewater, both gray-water, which mainly comes from washing machines, sinks, showers, baths and roof runoff, and backwater, which comes from kitchen dishwashing and toilets (Sweeting, 2010). “Poor sewage treatment can lead to pollution of ground and surface water and degradation of marine resources, such as coral reefs”. Similar to this waste management from hotels is often in large quantities and according to Sweeting, in addition to visually degrading a destination, improper waste disposal can lead to water and soil pollution.

These are only examples of the impacts that the hotel industry can have on climate change. There are many other areas that also impact on this. These are the main areas where change can be implemented on all levels to ensure that all companies in the industry are complying with set standards.

Effects of Climate Change on Tourism

Climate affects a wide range of the environmental resources that are critical attractions for tourism, such as snow conditions, wildlife productivity and biodiversity, water levels and quality, while also influencing deterrents to tourists including extreme events such as tropical cyclones (Pham, 2010). “There are three facets of climate change that affect tourism – the aesthetic e.g. sunshine, day-length, the physical e.g. rain, wind and the thermal, a comfortable metabolic effect” (Perry, 2003). Perry also continues to state that the primary resources of sun, sea and beaches are likely to be re-evaluated in the light of expected climate change. Tourism is a continuously adapting industry, responding to changing demographic and economic conditions as well as to new demands and technologies, this is an area which can no longer be ignored, and major changes need to be implemented.

According to Tourism Queensland (2009) global warming may have the following impact on the tourism industry:

• a rise in sea level causing coastal damage; • an increase in the likelihood of extreme weather conditions such as droughts, floods and cyclones; • health impacts because of the spread of tropical-borne diseases, the increase of flooding and other such climate changes; • damage to ecosystems and species diversity; • damage to agricultural output and food supply; and • an increase in the earth’s surface temperature causing heat stress and damage.
“Climate determines the suitability of locations for a wide range of tourist activities and plays a major role in destination choice, length and quality of tourist seasons and tourist spending” (Pham, 2010). Pham goes onto to discusses the importance of not only the climate conditions of a particular destination, but also the weather ‘event’s where physiological and psychological meaning influence actual behaviour. According to McKercher, (2010), recent research in Australian has identified the potential for climate change to have serious impacts on the long-term sustainability of a number of sensitive regions such as winter sports regions and coral reefs.

According to UNEP, 1998, “the tourism industry has a greater vested interest than most in protecting the global environment”. UNEP continues to discuss that tourism destinations rely on a clean and healthy environment for the long-term quality and viability of the ‘product’: without such environmental quality, much tourism would disappear. Unless all tourism operators, large and small, take action to maintain and enhance environmental quality, the future of the industry is in jeopardy. The regional manifestations of climate change will be highly relevant for tourism destinations and tourists alike, requiring adaptation by all major tourism stakeholders. “Indeed, climate change is not a remote future event for tourism, as the varied impacts of a changing climate are becoming evident at destinations around the world and climate change is already influencing decision making in the tourism sector (Scott, 2007)”.

Statement of need

“Consumer reaction to climate change issues can be described as contradictory at best. On one hand, a growing number of consumers are aware of the dangers posed by climate change and of the need to act. But on the other hand, most people seem unwilling to translate these concerns into meaningful personal actions by voluntarily changing their own patterns” (McKercher, 2010). It is essential for a policy which enforces environmental changes on an industry level. It is the responsibility of the tourism industry to take the lead and make the changes.

“The findings suggest that changing consumer behaviour may represent the greatest challenge in reducing tourism’s carbon footprint in the short-to-medium term. While legislation may force industry to comply, the consumer may be a harder sector to influence” (McKercher, 2010).

With this in mind, it is essential that the tourism industry make the changes, even if the consumer is not aware or does not have an interest; the tourism industry is making the decision for them. Some tourists, who may not be concerned with the environment, can be completely unaware of a property being ‘green’ and hotels can put in these measures without affecting the guests stay. You can be successful in being green and still providing luxury. “Guests don’t even realise that these green measures are going on around them” (Eisen, 2009). For example larger hotel chains such as the Marriott and Hilton are implementing amazing ‘green’ initiatives. Some examples are; greener key cards made out of 50% recyclable materials, painting with low-volatile organic compound paint, using 100% microfiber sheets which cuts down drying time etc (Eisen,2009). It is great to see larger hotel chains taking on these initiatives to encourage others to do the same.

On the other hand, it may be a little harder to influence the industry to change their ways as they may only see the short-term costs, rather than the future benefits and savings. “Global warming and climate change are still fairly amorphous terms that are perceived to have consequences that will only occur in the future or affect others first” (Patchen, 2006). The only measure to ensure this is for government to put into place a policy which provides not only strict guidelines but also helps in subsidising for the changes which the hotels need to make in order to reach these guidelines. Monetary contributions will be required to help the industry to reduce their carbon foot-print. “Three major sets of stakeholders are involved in tourism: governmental and global policy bodies, industry, and tourists. The ability of the tourism system to reduce its carbon footprint must involve the active participation of all three” (McKercher, 2010)

According to the Tourism and Climate Change Framework, 2008, the “Australian Government's climate change policy is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate change that cannot be avoided, and helping to shape a global solution. The Australian Government has committed to a target of reducing emissions by 60 per cent of 2000 levels by 2050. The centre piece of efforts to reduce emissions will be an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)”. The tourism industry must be prepared for a carbon constrained future to ensure its continued contribution to the Australian economy, and provide certainty for future investment in the industry.

The Tourism and Climate Change Framework, 2008, states five outcomes of which it wants to achieve:
1. Improved understanding of the vulnerabilities of tourism to both the physical and economic impacts of climate change in order to build the resilience and adaptive capacity of the industry and provide certainty for the purpose of future investment;
2. A tourism industry that is prepared for a carbon constrained future and continues to make a substantial contribution to the Australian economy;
3. A repositioning of tourism marketing strategies to meet head on the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change;
4. A fully informed tourism industry through consistent and effective industry outreach and communications; and
5. A nationally consistent, inclusive and cooperative approach to implementation.

A policy for set of guidelines and regulations for the accommodation and hospitality sector in regards to environmental management is essential and is a great step in achieving the above outcomes. The Australian Government has designed a framework, and this was in 2008, we are now in 2010 and little movement has been made. Tourism in affecting climate change at a rapid pace, and the government needs to realise that being proactive, rather than reactive is essential for not only Australian tourism but future generations. “Global warming and climate change are still fairly amorphous terms that are perceived to have consequences that will only occur in the future or affect others first”

According to Campanelli & Rizzo, 2009, “together, financial incentives, and consumer demand are likely to encourage the hospitality industry to developing more environmentally friendly hotels, resorts, spas and convention centres”. With the increase in the knowledge of the impacts of tourism and hospitality on the environment, there has been a large increase in refurbishing current organisations and making them environmentally sound with things such as insulation, glazing windows, better piping with low-flow filters, pipes closer to hot water systems to save energy. This can be expansive and timely as you must work around what already is in place. One main concern today is on new developments and buildings, to build them environmentally sound to begin with, not only is this easier, it is also a cheaper exercise if done correctly from the start.

Investors are seeing the importance of making new construction environmentally sound, not only for the future of the environment, but also financially. “Building green is becoming more cost effective and a viable option for many businesses” (Hapstak, 2009,). Hapstak states that the means to design, build, and operate a green business are straightforward. However the means and methods to do so are less clear”. The government needs to ensure that the policy has clear ideas and alternatives to ensure all properties can reach their maximum savings.

According to the Tourism and Climate Change Framework, 2008, “While some tourism enterprises across Australia have taken voluntary action to manage emissions, industry representatives have reported confusion over which emissions management tools and resources are useful and relevant for tourism enterprises. Intervention is needed to assist tourism enterprises to understand the tools that are available and to articulate the benefits of emissions management (business advantages, operational efficiencies, cost-savings), and in providing guidance on and access to practical and simple to use tools and resources”.

Scope of proposed plan

According to Alexander, 2002, the term "green hotels" describes hotels that strive to be more environmentally friendly through the efficient use of energy, water, and materials while providing quality services. Green hotels conserve and preserve by saving water, reducing energy use, and reducing solid waste. They have seen benefits such as reduced costs and liabilities, high return and low-risk investments, increased profits, and positive cash flows. Identifying these benefits and incentives has allowed the popularity of green hotels to grow.

According to Bergin-Seers & Mair, 2009, it is accepted that some tourists have stronger views than others about environmental issues. It is the role of the individual organisations to inform not only the guests involved in the process, but more importantly the staff who will be implementing these procedures. When guests are informed of the environmental decisions the organisation has put into place, not only can they help in actioning these, they can also make their own decisions to help in minimising their environmental foot print. An example of this is when a hotel will place a sign stating that if the guest would like to save water, they should hang up their towels, rather than getting fresh ones. By giving educational information on the impacts that hotel laundries have on the environment they may think twice and feel they are doing their part to help, even if only in a small way.

A system similar to that currently in place for tourism and hospitality organisations with the star rated program in regards to facilities etc, there needs to be a similar checklist that can be applied to ‘green’ organisations, to give consumers a choice and the industry something to thrive and work towards. This has been done with another article, “Green Report Card” (Eccles, 2009). As stated by Eccles, it is essential for the code to be “continuously evaluated on an annual basis to ensure it represents best practices”. This is essential as the environment is ever changing and there are always new things and improvements to be made. By having strict guidelines in place not only will it encourage organisations to get on board, as consumers can choose ‘green’ organisations, but it will encourage the industry as a whole to help the environment.

According to Urell, 2007, “the important thing is the hotel is selling an experience and green shows a dedication to the heath of a guest. A building that offers access to natural light, healthy air and an overall healthy environment is good for the guest, as well as employees, who will be more productive, take fewer sick days and stay with their job, so retention is better”. Urell raises the importance of using healthy and safe products within the hotel industry not only from the paint on the walls, but to the cleaning products being used. Green products tend to have a lot less chemicals and products which can cause irritation to guests. Green products tend to be natural products that not only are friendly to humans but also the environment.

Proposed Process

The Tourism and Climate Change Framework, 2008, states that tourism enterprises can actively manage their emissions as part of standard business practices, as a way to adapt to a carbon constrained future and to manage increasing input costs. Emissions management (measurement, monitoring and reduction strategies) allows an enterprise to build awareness of energy consumption, identify inefficiencies and to implement strategies to achieve efficiency gains. It also informs investment decisions, such as the value of investing in more efficient technology or renewable energy.

According to this framework, tourism contributes significantly to the Australian economy, to job creation, to wealth generation and to regional economic development. To sustain the economic, environmental and social benefits the tourism industry currently generates for Australia, the impacts of climate change on tourism and how they are managed will require ongoing research and analysis and long term policy responses

Opportunity for upstream influence and downstream leverage within the tourism industry is significant. “Hotels can exert upstream influence on their suppliers to provide environmentally sound products such as recyclable toiletries” (Davies.,et al 2000). Davies also states that tourists may be more receptive to educational initiatives that focus on environmental benefits of altering their behaviour; while the industry sectors are more likely to be responsive to educational efforts that emphasize cost savings and improved public image.

Changes need to be made, and they need to be made very soon. The government needs to take action in implementing a strategy for all tourism operations to adhere to. These need to be regulated and continuously updated to be consistent with the most up to date research. Subsidised programs need to be put in place and the tourism industry need to be forced into this change, rather than a random selection doing so at their will.


• Alexander, S. (2002). “Green Hotels: Opportunities and Resources for Success”, Zero Waste Alliance, online:, viewed 1st March, 2010

• Australian Government, (2008), “Tourism and Climate Change, A Framework for action”, Department of Resources, Energy & Tourism

• Australian Government Website. (2010). “Tourism and Climate Change”, Department of Resources, Energy & Tourism, online: , viewed 23rd June, 2010.

• Bergin-Seers, S & Mair, J. (2009). “Emerging green tourists in Australia” Their behaviours and attitudes”, Tourism Hospitality and Research, April 2009, Vol. 9, Iss. 2, pg 109-119

• Campanelli, A & Rizzo, C. (2009), “Risks & Rewards for Building Sustainable Hotels”, Deloitte, online:, viewed 1st March 2010.

• Davies, T & Sarah, C. (2000). “Environmental Implications of the Tourism Industry”, Discussion Paper 00-14, March 2010, Washington DC.

• Eccles, R. (2009). “Green Report Card”, Association Meetings, August 2009, Vol. 21, Iss. 4, pg 12

• Eisen, D. (2009). “Greening Hotels”, Travel Agent, 13th April, 2009, Vol. 334, Iss. 8, pg 20-22

• Hapstak, P. (2009). “Pursuing true sustainability isn’t easy, but beneficial”, Hotel Business, 15th December 2009, Vol. 18, Iss. 23, pg 6

• Kattara, H & Zeid, A. (2002). “ Current environmental issues: A study of Sinai & Red Sea hotels”, Food Service Technology, Blackwell publishing, pg 155-161

• McKercher, B, Prideaux, B, Cheung, C & Law, R. (2010). “Achieving voluntary reductions in the carbon footprint and climate change”, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 18, no. 3, April 2010, pg 297-317.

• Patchen, M. (2006). “Public attitudes and behaviour about climate change: What shapes them and how to influence them?” , Publication 0601, 53,.West Lafayette, IN: Purdue Climate Change Research Centre Outreach.

• Perry, A. (2003). “Climate change, the environment and tourism: the interactions”. Position Paper, Climate Research Unit, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

• Pham, D, Simmons, D & Spur, R. (2010). “Climate change-induced economic impacts on tourism destinations: the case of Australia”, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 18, no. 3, April 2010, pg 449-473

• Scott, D., McBoyle. G., & Minogue, A. (2007). “Climate change and Québec’s ski industry. Global Environmental Change”, Advanced Summary, October 2007, online:, viewed 1st July, 2010.

• Srinivas, H. (2001). “Environmental Impacts of Tourism”, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), online:

• Sweeting, J & Sweeting, A. (2010), “A practical guide to good practice: managing environmental and social issues in the accommodations sector”, Tour Operators Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development Handbook, pg 2,4,6,8.

• Tourism Australia. (2008). “Climate change guide”, specifically Tourism WA, online:, viewed 26th June 2010.

• Tourism Queensland. (2009). “Tourism Environmental Indicators”, Tourism Queensland, online:, viewed 23rd June 2010.

• United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (1998). “How the Hotel & Tourism Industry Can Protect the Ozone Layer”, UNEP, online:, viewed 26th June 2010.

• Urell, C. (2007). “Construction companies note it’s not easy being green”, Hotel Business, 21st July 2007, Vol. 16, Iss. 14, pg 6A-7A

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