Environmental management systems and certification programmes : the instruments of sustainable tourism
This work mainly focuses on the voluntary initiatives, such as environmental management systems and tourism certification schemes, which are implemented by the tourism businesses in order to contribute to sustainable tourism. The conception of sustainable tourism, policies and initiatives to support it are also discussed. The thesis provides an objective analysis and evaluation of the effectiveness of these voluntary initiatives identifying similarities and differences among them, finding out the factors that make them effective and successful in terms of sustainable tourism development and also highlighting their drawbacks. It was found, that it is entirely reasonable to have doubts about environmental management systems and certification schemes. Environmental management systems and a lot of certification programmes are essentially the formal conformance standards. It means they are concerned with whether an organisation’s management procedures are consistent with its environmental policy and are not concerned with performance issues such as whether such systems actually protect the environment. The problem is that targets that imply sustainability may be difficult to define – no one has yet come up with a satisfactory methodology for defining tourism carrying capacity. That’s why performance is clearly much harder to encompass than process. Despite several drawbacks of environmental management systems and tourism certification programmes they have made significant progress over the last decade and have the potential to contribute towards the achievement of sustainable tourism. They may have a useful function in getting the managers to focus on the environmental impacts their organizations are making, and in the process of gaining certification actually produce some tangible reduction in pollution.