Destination Marketing Association International has officially identified sustainability as one of the most important business opportunities facing destination marketing professionals into the future. The organization has identified green issues as one of eight super trends that can be expected to present opportunities and challenges for destination professionals in the coming years. Other key trends include things such as regulation, technology, the battle for relevance and attention.
Will this mean that we start to see more destination cities embracing green? Probably. I think many CVB's and DMO's will be taking inventory of their sustainability assets to better understand what their communities can offer. This will be packaged and presented in more easily accessible ways to their markets.
Will it lead to new initiatives to support more sustainable experiences that reach beyond recycling? Perhaps. Many destinations will likely discover they have some work to do to understand and create the kind of sustainable infrastructure planners and travelers want. To do this will require some destination professionals to step out of their traditional marketing roles, to become more involved destination management.
Will this help us get greener services? Yes, and no. We will be able to get more information about sustainable destination features. But will we know for sure how green these services are? My take on this is that the number of destinations who hang out their green shingle results in an equal increase in traveler confusion about who is the greenest. Green-washing will emerge as a key challenge, underlining the need for standards.
Will planners be knocking down the doors of cities embracing sustainability? In all honestly, not in droves. For planners I think key considerations will remain things like accessibility, cost, availability and safety. That said where destinations are competitive on these factors sustainable practices will tip the scales in favor of those cities that can claim them. Furthermore, those cities that cannot claim them will be at risk of losing business to those who can.
Destination Marketing Association International.