RESPONSIBLE TOURISM AS THE KEY TO ETHICAL TOURISM PRACTICES

Responsible tourism
Responsible tourism

RESPONSIBLE TOURISM AS THE KEY TO ETHICAL TOURISM PRACTICES

Responsible Tourism

Responsible tourism is one of the key areas related to ethics and marketing in the tourism sector. In the article, Tourists’ Accounts of Responsible Tourism, Caruana et al. (2014) define responsible tourism by looking at the benefits gained by the host country, the ability to minimize impacts, engagement of the local community in decision making, and conservation of cultural heritage. The definitions aid in enforcing responsible tourism among the consumers.

Some of the major issues raised by the article about ethics in tourism were: participation in responsible tourism, social economy and environment, ethical marketing, and motivations factors for ethical tourism. Findings from the article revealed that responsible tourism is a concept involving market of heterogeneous consumers. By participating in responsible tourism, consumers and marketing firms can significantly improve ethical tourism behavior while promoting development, social interaction, and understanding with the host country.

Participating in Responsible Tourism

The accounts of tourists on responsible tourism can be defined using their experience and degree of involvement in responsible tourism. According to Winchenbach (2013), one of key strategy for developing ethical tourism is human capacity building. However, current literature pays little attention to operations factors that have a direct role in tourism.

Winchenbach notes that trainee’s personal motives, attitudes and the capacity to transmit knowledge can significantly improve transparency within communities. According to Salazar (2012), the society will be fully equipped to influence tourists and firms to practice responsible tourism. Affirmative action and active cooperation at the community level can go a long way in enabling the local community to overcome barriers to responsible tourism.

Consumer’s involvement in ethical tourism is usually dependent on the perceptions of an ideal culture that the consumers identify with. Albeit many tourists expressing participation in responsible tourisms, some engage in low level or no participation at all.  It all depends on the attitude, the perception of the host country and moral obligation of the consumers (Liu, 2003).

Some tourists have no business with the commercial or cultural issues of the community around. For example, one might say that relaxing or breaking away from work is what that concerns them and therefore fail to engage responsible tourism activities.

The government and tourism firms have a role in promoting responsible tourism.  Drivers, tour guides, and advertisers have a title role in creating awareness to the consumers, supporting the local county and begun obedient to the regulations of tourist’s authorities. The administration should be involved in zone divisions, issuance of licenses to guides and promoting cooperation amount different players.

Murphy (2013) as cited by Breugel (2013) stressed the numerous benefits of local community involvement in the development of responsible tourism. He argued that the industry can be destroyed if tourism and development planning fails to align with the expectations and capabilities of the host country. Although there is no literature in support of realistic ways of engaging the community directly in tourism development, there are several means and discussions on how they can be part of responsive tourism.

Some of these participations range from decision making and involvement in benefits so the tourism, showcasing of the society’s culture and assisting in tourism awareness campaigns (Bramwell, B. and Sharman, 1999; Stamboulis and Skayannis, 2003).

People will be more inclined to take part in ethical tourism activities like marketing if they are involved in discussion and decision-making process to voice their opinions (Holden, 2003). They will also volunteer in information sharing, interpretation and other tourism related activities and events. It is recommended to articulate the community values and generate local support for tourism development.

Factors to consider while planning for community involvement range from assessing the current commitment procedures, making first meetings with members of the community where issues of responsive tourism can be addressed, and gathering information. Collecting of data is done by reviewing the existing materials about trusts and determining whether there is sufficient information available for tourist interests.

Community meeting should also be conducted where proposals, opportunities, plans and feedback can be presented. The results of the meeting can be distributed to the public using relevant media while soliciting citizen’s feedback.

Social economy and environment considerations

There are a variety of economic, social and environmental factors associated with tourism. Understanding responsible tourism will help organizations and governments plan for sustainable tourism that takes care of the environment, economy and the social aspect of the host country (Stynes, 1997). Tourism leads to increased sales, the creation of job opportunities, tax revenues and income (Briedenhann, and Wickens, 2004; Frechtling, 2000).

Some of the direct effects on the economy are emergence and sustenance of lodgings, restaurants, and entertainment and transportation sectors. There are more direct impacts of tourism on the community that are quite clear. Nonetheless, responsible tourism is the key to productive and increased economic activities in an area (Wang and Davidson, 2010).

A transportation firm that attracts about 50 tourists every day can get more consumers to positive results from responsible traveler’s practices. The firm, for example, might get new 50 visitors in a day and double its daily income. If each visitor spends $50 for transport, the business will experience a positive change from $ 2500 to $ 5000.  If let’s say the new boom is sustained for the next 100 days, the region will, therefore, accumulate half a million in cash sales.

While the amount will be distributed among retailer’s owners, restaurants, and entertainers proportionally, another fraction will be channeled to cover for goods purchase and allow a significant amount of growth development of the region.

Ethical marketing

The importance of culture is critical in the ethical marketing of tourism (Gurel and Yaman 2006). In support of this idea, Fleckenstein and Huebsch (1999) argue that cultural difference is one of the top issues of international tourism. It may have a disproportional impact while making ethical and fruitful business decisions in a global setting (Payne and Dimanche (1996). 

Variations in the perceived importance of ethical marketing and social responsibility as the key determinants of a tourists firm’s effectiveness can be explained by the country difference. As Singhapakdi (2001) notes, these perceived variations include cultural differences and the variances in the economic environment as well as the firm’s climate, gender, and age.

Marketing ethics in tourism has been complicated by the idea that marketers must deal with a heterogeneous audience who possess different cultural attributes. The failure to apply ethical marketing may lead to two extremes. First, there will be the breach of ethics that will end to consumer contempt of the product, and the firm will suffer long term consequences. The next extreme will be immediate damage to both the individual and the host country.

Motivation factors for ethical tourism

            The article indicated that tourists engage in moral tourism where ” Our respondents also involved in what we might refer to as ‘morality plays,’ wherein the ethicality of their holidays was dramatized into tensions around nature, culture, and economy” (Caruana et al. 2014 pg. 125).  This engagement was categorized into fundamental or extrinsic goals.  The former refers the type goals meant to make money and are directed from the inside.

They are aimed at controlling people and achieving self-esteem needs such as social recognition.  The later refers to outer directed ends that include achieving real social interactions, making contributions related to the development and helping others. Intrinsic goals also encompass delighting in volunteer programs and personal growth efforts.  The interviews carried out revealed that tourists demonstrated a wide variety of themes and the respondents could position their experiences of responsible tourism as directed to immediate personal growth and family unions.

Extrinsic goal direction

There were several cases where tourists expressed self-interest motives as the reason for participation in responsible tourism. These motivations were partly connected to the issue of responsible tourism in ethical marketing.  The details and information presented to tourists through advertising were seen to have a huge impact on the role and motives of tourists in taking part in responsible tourism.

Ethical marketing was cited as one of the factors that attracted respondents to taking part in meaningful activities.  Consumers see the message and feel compelled to act. They believe what they hear and see and understand what to expect from it. According to Debicka and Jastrzabek (2014), responsibility is depicted as a conduit of personal assurance and a way of avoiding commercialization.

It links to personal benefits of a quality holiday filled with good value. Instead of using commercial links to access services such as food and accommodation, some tourist prefers to explore on their own and seek out new places. While they might be sensitive about ethical issues related to such endeavors, they are comfortable spending money on services that looked decent and appropriate.

 Responsible tourism (Ford and Acott, 2015) presents consumers with a good value proposition and serves them individual goals. Notably, a lot of tourists look for services that fit their individual needs and tailored specifically to meet their expectations. Mass marketing (Goodwin, 2001) is not favorable due to its perceived failure to offer customized information.

Consumers will always seek out things that can be well planned and pertains to their unique tastes. If the tourists desire to portray individuality and difference similar to their inner motivations that make them concerned about mass marketing (Ford, 1994). The construction of extrinsic goals is shaped by situational factors such as children, friends, and spouses who the consumers have duties to live up to. 

For example, a tourist who brings along her husband and children will have obligations to them and therefore seek out to engage in responsible tourism. This motivation would be different if she came alone. By bringing their husband children, people will effectively be ethical, take part in community engagement, prove to be good parents and take part in educative initiatives.

Intrinsic goals

Tourists explicitly express more intrinsic and outer directed goals within responsible tourism. In this type of ethical marketing, some consumers will seek to participate in conserving the environment, share the wealth and help others access quality life. One respondent interviewed in the research, Tourists’ Accounts of Responsible Tourism by Caruana et al. (2014) stated that going as responsible travelers will benefit the host country a lot.

Some will participate in responsible tourism to raise awareness of the positive and adverse effects they might have on the economy and the vulnerable social community. It’s conversely difficult to interact with the local community and tourists are advised to remain in the hotels if overcoming the challenges looks impossible. Meeting the locals is one of the most effective ways of understanding one’s impact on that community.

Conclusion

Responsible tourism has a broad range of cultural, economic and environmental benefits varying from job creation, revenue generation, to increased sales. The article on responsible tourism revealed that consumers do not have fixed perceptions of ethics, marketing, and social issues on travel products. The market is heterogeneous and defines responsible tourism about aspects of their behavior, interactions with local community and their impacts on the host country.

There were several themes identified by the article ranging from motivations for engagement in ethical and responsible tourism, marketing and experience. Consumers take part in ethical issues by being part of responsible tourism. Tourists’ involvement in ethical tourism depends on their perceived notion of the culture they identify with. Some take part in high-level issues of marketing, social and moral matters while others do not participate at all. 

The motives could be extrinsic, meaning they are personal in nature. They could also be intrinsic where people engage in ethical tourism to help others, spread cultural values and be part of development agendas. Ethical issues in tourism should not be left to policy makers, governments and marketing firms alone. All players including tourists, members of the local community, marketers, environmentalists, government agencies, and businesses should take the time to part of ensuring tourism is conducted in a responsible, social friendly and ethical manner.

References

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Briedenhann, J. and Wickens, E., 2004. Tourism for the economic development. Tourism Management, 25(1), pp.71-79.

Caruana, R., Glazer, S., Crane, A. and McCabe, S., 2014. Tourists’ accounts of responsible tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 46, pp.115-129.

Debicka, O. and Oniszczuk-Jastrzabek, A., 2014, January. Responsible tourism in Poland. In Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management in Opatija. Biennial International Congress. Tourism & Hospitality Industry (p. 189). The university of Rijeka, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality Management.

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