Bienvenida

¡GRACIAS POR SU INTERÉS!

Bienvenido/a a este blog, que nace, con el año 2012, como vehículo para divulgar y compartir inquietudes e ideas, sobre todo en materia de turismo. Antes, he aquí el documento resultado de casi cinco años (2010 a 2014, 55 artículos) escribiendo cada mes en HEconomia, con análisis y propuestas para el turismo provincial: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/48698330/HEconomia_2010_2014_55_articulos.pdf

Además, en las siguientes URLs encontrará más, mucho más, sobre mi actividad académica: http://www.uhu.es/alfonso_vargas/ - http://alfonsovargassanchez.wix.com/geidetur

Y lo más importante: ¿aún no conoce Huelva? Descúbrala en el siguiente enlace y en la presentación que sigue: http://www.turismohuelva.org - https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/48698330/AunNoConocesHuelva.pps

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miércoles, 1 de junio de 2016

CELEBRATING THE WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY (05 JUNE)

The World Environment Day (WED) -run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)- is approaching this year. Its 2012 theme presented a critical question mark: Does it include you? Everybody should be concerned about the issue of preserving the natural environment in the planet that hosts us. So, yes, it includes me; and yes, it includes the tourism industry, which is experiencing a process of stopless growth. The point is, therefore, how to make compatible the environmental impacts of this apparently unavoidable mass tourism, with the requirements of sustainability.

"Do well by doing good" is a sentence often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Let me use it to create this post, making a paralellism between a tourism company and its natural environment, as a tiny personal contribution to the 2016 WED. So, I'd say DO WELL FOR YOUR TOURIST COMPANY BY DOING GOOD FOR YOUR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT.

Today it seems clear and demonstrated that the environment is an obligatory element to be factored into the strategic process of the company, being a determining aspect on many occasions, together with others of diverse nature which affect the activity of the organization. Therefore, how environmental issues should be addressed is a facet to be incorporated into corporate and business strategies, leading, in many cases, to critical axes in organizations' plans. In doing so, the strategy should be designed to turn potential environmental threats into opportunities, through the assimilation of environmental-friendly products capable of supplying competitive advantages.

Over time, the qualitative change in the approach of the environmental variable in business is noticeable, as it goes from being considered a legal problem - which involves costs - to being understood as an essential part of a strategy that allows the reduction of waste, environmental risks, and therefore, an increase of efficiency and a reduction of costs and environmental responsibilities (leading to the so-called circular economy).

The strategy has to be designed, therefore, to find the corresponding formula in order to achieve opportunities through the design of a proactive approach with regard to the environmental factor. In other words, it should be based on the study of actions and formulas that make mass tourism sustainable. Thus, the UNWTO itself, in more recent publications, argues the need to move towards a more sustainable tourism, rather than towards a definitive sustainable tourism. Taking the same approach, current proposals defend the integration of mass tourism and sustainability. So, sustainable mass tourism has become, for a number of experts, the best alternative for many tourist destinations, provided it is achieved as a balance between sufficient demand and socio-economic and environmental stability.

This explains the existence of voluntary initiatives which, in the tourist industry, go one step beyond environmental laws, revealing a commitment towards sustainable attitudes and behaviours.

In a research concluded last year in the tourist lodging sector of the Spanish province of Huelva (together with my colleague Prof. Montaño-Valle), some interesting findings were gathered on this topic, which can be summarized as answers to the following core questions, posed at the outset of this research (done it, by the way, without any kind of financial support).

Q1. What are the variables capable of speeding up, or otherwise, the implementation of environmentally-sustainable strategies in hotels?

In this regard, we found that both normative and mimetic pressures stimulate the adoption of a proactive environmental strategy by the accommodation units under scrutiny, focusing them on obtaining a better perception on the part of their stakeholders, pursuing improvements in their market shares and the opening of new markets, as well as a greater acceptance by hosting communities. However, legal or coercive pressure generates reactive strategies.

Moreover, the lodging units with the largest share of international clients present an environmental strategy more focused on the incorporation of environmentally-friendly products and the management of their life cycle, as well as a strategy centred on sustainable development, which especially entails the accreditation of sustainability certificates, minimizing the impact on the environment and habitat caused by this activity.

Q2: What are the variables that hinder the incorporation of sustainable strategies in hotels?

We found that the main variable acting as a brake on the uptake of environmental strategies is managers’ lack of commitment; in other words, the management style. Neither the size nor the lack of financial resources has a significant impact. Therefore human capital, management style and the level of commitment are the variables that have the potential to act as an impediment, or otherwise, to the environmental policies in these organizations.

Q3: What is the strategy followed by the accommodation sector for the integration of natural resources?

On the one hand, tourist accommodation units develop proactive strategic behaviours by establishing medium and long term goals, as well as incorporating environmental training actions for their employees. At the same time, product strategies were detected, that is, incorporating organic products and/or recycled products from the raw materials used to provide the daily services and activities, in addition to the incorporation of systems and behaviours aimed at recycling and reusing the waste generated.

Finally, we also identified an environmental strategy characterized by behaviours based on minimizing the impact on the habitat, integration with the local community, and customer communication of the activities carried out for the implementation of environmental management practices.

Q4: Does the degree of integration of natural resources (environmental performance) directly affect the results of the organization?

The outcomes of this research reveal that environmental performance, that is, the integration of natural resources into the management of the company, directly affects its results.

Thus, it is found that the adoption of eco-efficiency as an organizational routine leads to an improvement in positioning results. Included within these results are those consisting of the improvement of customers' and employees’ satisfaction, and those that allow improvements in innovation and reputation and the opening of new markets.

Besides, better positioning results act as a driver for better economic performance, enabling the accommodation concerned to return an above-average performance compared to a set of peers and, therefore, acquire a more competitive status.

Q5: What are the economic results of a good environmental performance?

This research enables a distinction to be drawn between two types of results arising as a consequence of the integration of natural resources into the business strategy:

-Organizations with superior environmental performance achieve better positioning results (image, satisfaction and loyalty, increased market share and access to innovation).

-But perhaps the most interesting finding is the verification of a direct relationship between positioning and financial performance. It can therefore be affirmed that the integration of natural resources into business strategy leads to improved economic results, in the form of higher returns, better overall economic performance and superior returns compared to the average competitor.

At least -albeit partial and limited- this is a positive evidence, a stimulus to keep moving forward in the search of a right direction for business and the planet. Sooner than later, if not already, our well being and even survival are in play.

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