Best Practices

Any framework to promote best management practices in tourism should be able to address the systemic problems (public sector planning, inadequacy of essential services, social issues, etc.) afflicting the industry, as well as the more directed issues of site design, management, and regulation. In the Caribbean for example, efforts to date have included the following:

  • Integrated coastal area planning and management
  • Coastal development (land use) plans
  • Resort management plans
  • National environmental action plans
  • Environmental permit and license system (Jamaica)

Requirements for best practices at the system level would cover the following areas:

  1. Standards for resort ambience (density, building height, setbacks, landscaping, etc.).
  2. Site selection and site and building design (including water and wastewater management systems, drainage, etc.).
  3. Management of construction activities.
  4. Supporting infrastructure (transportation and road networks, waste collection and disposal, housing, etc.).
In the area of operation of facilities, and the provision of services, best management practices can produce immediate, tangible and beneficial results. More importantly, implementation can take place across the industry as a whole, while showing reductions in cost and increases in profit. Moreover, this should provide particular operators with a competitive edge as tourists are becoming more environmentally aware. The development of best management practices should be supported by the development of the related management systems; that is, environmental policy, appropriate purchasing policies, environmental management/monitoring system, staff training, and assigning the responsibility for the programme to a senior member of staff. Areas of operation for which best practices have been identified include:
  1. Waste management
  2. Water usage
  3. Energy usage
  4. Facilities maintenance
  5. Recreation
  6. Public/social interaction

Example of international and national initiatives promoting best management practices are listed below:

  • British Airways Holidays (BAH): developed a programme called "Tourism for Tomorrow" seeking to promote environmentally friendly properties to its clients. BAH has conducted a survey of hotels in the Caribbean to identify and promote hotels with good environmental practices; currently associated with testing the viability of a benchmarking methodology for the hotel industry.
  • Costa Rica's Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST): is one of the leading and most successful practitioners of ecotourism in the western hemisphere. CST created its own market through a government operated, nation wide ecolabeling program.
  • Green Globe: has developed truly impressive credentials and affiliations. With direct lineage to Agenda 21, this organisation recently has begun its own certification program on a worldwide basis.
  • Green Key: has its market coverage limited to Denmark, but its certification criteria are considered to be the harshest in the world.
  • HAC Green Leaf: is now considered to be the pre-eminent ecolabeling entity in Canada.
  • HVS Eco Services: is primarily an environmental consulting firm for the hotel industry which provides an ECOTEL certification program for the Americas.
  • Touristik Union International (TUI): is a German based tour operator with over five million customers annually, and a pioneer in fostering environmental responsibility in the tourism industry.

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