The Euro has slumped in value this may well bring big opportunities for regional and international sustainable tourism
The Euro has been dropping like a stone on international markets just today it has dropped to a four year low against the dollar – one dollar can now buy .83 of a Euro and it is possible, although not probable that parity is in sight. The UK£ is also strengthening against the Euro, today it could buy 1.21 Euros.
International tourists are rapidly going to see the 16 countries that use the Euro as the biggest discount stores in the world.
In practical, tourist wallet terms that means 20% off – everything. Whether it’s hotel accommodation, meals, drinks, crafts, souvenirs – everything.
Moreover Europe has the reputation of being a high value, high cost, upmarket destination where tourism is dealt with professionally. So tourists will not see themselves as buying cheap things cheap, but getting real discounts on very high-value experiences.
You can almost hear the cheers from the restaurants and designer shops of Paris to the beaches of Marbella and the delightful islands of the Aegean, where much was done to accelerate the Euro’s drop.
All this is a shot in the arm for European tourism, but what about sustainability?
The fact is that for this opportunity to be economically sustainable (the easy bit!) the following needs to happen:
• Tourists need to spend their dollars, pounds, yens and yuans in locally-owned establishments
• Tourists need to stay in locally-owned hotels and other forms of accommodation (don’t worry if the hotels are actually called Marriott or Holiday Inn or any other global brand – are they locally-owned? And do they provide REAL benefits to locals?)
• Tourists need to eat and drink in establishments that source their food and drink locally.
• Tourists need to travel with transportation companies that have a real commitment to the destination.
• And for the final bit of economic sustainability, local destination enterprises need to know who these tourists are so that they can keep in contact with them and understand their market a bit better every year (yes, just like airlines and tour operators and global distribution networks). Destinations don’t need to own the market, but they do need to have an ongoing relationship with it.
So, that’s the easy bit – the economic sustainability – what about the cultural, social and environmental aspects of sustainability taking advantage of this European harvest of tourists?
European destinations need to go through a paradigm-shift NOW.
They urgently need to recognize that their tourism stock in trade is represented by their environment, their culture, their society – in practical terms their roads, their mountains and valleys, their food and drink, everything that makes up their unique selling proposition – their brand. And, like successful commercial companies, they must enhance the value of their brand, not devalue it by selling it to the most possible buyers.
This is a real opportunity for European destinations – maybe they could learn from really successful global brands who are judged by the benefits they provide to their shareholders rather than the amount of product they shift.
Writer Valere Tjolle is editor of the Sustainable Tourism Report Suite, special offer at: www.travelmole.com/stories/1142003.php
This article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’