Tourism is picking up again in France and North American travelers will be numerous this summer in Europe. Tourism stakeholders have the responsibility to do everything possible to promote conscious and responsible tourism and there are useful methods for uniting the stakeholders of a destination around this objective.

Talking about sustainable tourism is nonsense, because that would imply that there are two types of tourism, and that it would be acceptable for one of them not to take into account current ecological issues. Gold, the climate emergency is well known to all and 87% of travelers say they want to travel in a sustainable and responsible way. Historical, service-oriented tourism is no longer adequate since the ultimate service for a traveler is indeed conscious and responsible. In January, the Pinterest Predict report for the year 2023 already announced a strong trend in train travel among Generation Y and Z travelers.

Tourism professionals, we must allow travelers to continue to discover the world while respecting their values, and preserve the future of our destinations at the same time. While traveling for professional needs, I have noticed notorious inconsistencies, yet so simple to eliminate: the need to fill out a form to inform the hotel of my wish not to have the sheets and towels changed every day, over a two-day stay. We will agree that the reverse would have been much more effective. In 2023, this logic should be adopted by all.

Marketing at the service of virtuous tourism

For this, there are proven methods, to enable tourism professionals to develop sustainable strategies, especially through digital marketing. Today, 3/4 of my conversations with destinations revolve around the desire to implement sustainable initiatives in their action plan.

So here are some simple – yet effective – ways to start adopting a sustainable marketing strategy in this pivotal period:

  • co-op marketing, or how to embark its entire ecosystem in a single direction, for a more virtuous tourism. There is no point in hammering out a message calling for a more responsible tourism practice, if all the actors in your destination are going in opposite directions. To give more value to your insights, strengthen your purchasing power and amplify your impact, unity is strength: do not hesitate to associate yourself with your entire ecosystem. Transport companies, hotels, restaurants, attractions, … together, you will be stronger.
  • The right traveler targeting : it is useful to communicate the right message, it is even better when it is to the right person, at the right time. Gastronomy enthusiasts, in search of authentic experiences, travelers favoring the train in their journeys… the criteria are multiple and allow you to attract more responsible travelers, sensitive to the actions implemented in respect of your destination. Bringing in a trusted partner to build an ongoing marketing strategy that uses AI and traveler intent data will help engage travelers more effectively across digital channels.
  • De-marketing : we talk about it more and more because it is the cornerstone of any destination subject to mass tourism. De-marketing allows you to highlight little-known treasures of your destination, to help redirect travelers to less visited sites, and to preserve places too damaged by tourism: the Eiffel Tower, Machu Picchu, the cliffs d’Etretat… so many examples of the need to guide travelers for more diversity. Here again, it is a question of using a digital marketing strategy based on data in order to meet the strong expectations of travelers, who are looking for a more authentic experience.

Tourism is a important economic source for a destination, it is therefore essential to increase the number of visitors to it, but today we know that this growth affects the destination’s infrastructure, environment, local communities and other economic sectors. Implementing new sustainability strategies will therefore require dialogue, inclusion and collaboration with your local communities.

We, tourism stakeholders, we must act in full awareness of the considerable sustainable development challenges we face. The tourism of the future must be sustainable in essence. Unsurprisingly, the communication and marketing functions of a destination have a key role in spreading this message.

Author: Cédric Lopez, Sales, Corporate and Destinations Director at Sojern

Cedric Lopez is Commercial Director for France and Benelux (Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands). With more than ten years of experience in the field of tourism, technology and destination marketing, Cédric is responsible for the development of key strategic accounts as well as the development of new businesses, with a particular focus on Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), European Tourist Boards and other travel segments (attractions, airlines and hotels). Prior to joining Sojern, Cédric was responsible for France and Belgium for seven years at Regiondo, Europe’s leading tour operator and DMO booking system for the leisure industry.