Sustainable tourism movement is growing in all dimensions. From approaches, to knowledge, standards, and certification, most tourism businesses are committed to doing good deeds. The big challenge is differentiating whether these businesses are doing these good deeds to improve the image of their business and profit margins or to contribute to a better world. I guess it is a case of the chicken and the egg- which came first. From experience, i believe that the difference between doing good and being good has to do with being strategic about sustainable tourism, or just being a follower who wants to benefit. So what is the difference.
Doing good is about those deeds that benefit the business more than they transform a place. For example, having a water saving policy pegged on guests using less water, towel and linen change talk, but not measuring and keeping any records of the amount of water used overall and not having business actions to manage use like investing in low-flow shower heads or reinvesting savings into the efficient technology, is a case of doing good for benefit of business.
Being good is investing in deeds that transform your natural and social environment to improve your business environment . For example, having empowering programs for host communities, investing in programs that restore, and save the natural environment and setting aside funds in your budget to meet identified ecological and social needs.
Granted, it is not the direct business of tourism to bring development to local areas or take over role of government. But again, tourism needs a favourable ecological, social and cultural environment to thrive. Hence being good should be the business of each tourism business.
Doing good is great, but being good is transformative. There are several examples of how to be good. Businesses should network, search, learn and try new ways. They need to be strategic about this by assigning roles and budgets. This is where it all starts.