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 / Autumn 2010 / Issue 60(originally published by Booz & Company)


Destination: Green Tourism

Economic and financial impact. How much capital is required to achieve the desired results? Equally important, how much financial gain or savings might result from implementation? How would this scenario compare financially to a business-as-usual approach? What will the impact be on the federal budget and other government funds? How will the process of becoming a green destination affect the livelihood of local players, such as tourism operators? Do they have the skills to cope with such changes? Are the stakeholders making the initial investment the same ones who will benefit from the returns? If not, how can this gap be bridged?

Having these questions answered will make it much clearer which scenarios are viable. Once you choose a particular approach, the answers to these questions will also be critical to prioritizing programs and setting realistic expectations about targets. They can also act as a catalyst for change, arming policymakers with the information necessary to engage a broad range of stakeholders.

Step 3: Realize the green vision. A vision that has been built on such a strategic scenario planning exercise will lead to sustainable change only if it is implemented. How can you make the necessary leap from the hypothetical to the real? How can you ensure that your vision is implemented as planned — especially in light of practical restrictions such as financial restraints, limited resources, and current business priorities?

Start by writing out a sustainable master plan that frames specific strategic projects, aligns those projects with the proper investments, and sets up long-range planning steps. This plan must be linked to existing infrastructure and commercial initiatives, including property development.

Ideally, a dedicated governing body would oversee the implementation of identified sustainability projects, smooth and expedite the implementation process, and ensure that the master plan incorporates the needs and constraints of existing initiatives. The governing body can also be crucial in gathering concrete buy-in from relevant stakeholders and leading public relations, marketing, and education entities.

More than in any other stage, at the implementation stage, a multisector approach is critical. Destinations must get community buy-in, with the energetic involvement of the government, private sector, and civil society.

The Green Imperative

Destinations that under-invest in the preservation of their natural assets and trade their long-term health for short-term gain are squandering their most precious resources and chiseling away at their ecological and economic foundations instead of strengthening them. It is all too easy to forget that our most valuable resources are finite.

Ongoing trends will only increase the importance of sustainability efforts. The effects of climate change will continue to mount and become more visible; the growing middle class in emerging nations will create a larger tourism market. Competition will also increase, as leaders in the tourism industry realize that pursuing a policy of sustainability is essential for attracting visitors, and is also good for both environmental health and economic profitability. Stringent global carbon regulations will heighten the need for proactive, thoughtful, and swift measures.

Whether your location is a tiny, developing atoll or a sophisticated city, following this type of holistic, forward-looking road map will allow you to protect your most valuable assets, stay competitive, and build a sustainable green foundation for the future.

Reprint No. 10304

Author Profile:

  • Jürgen Ringbeck is a senior partner in Booz & Company’s Düsseldorf office. He focuses on strategy and transformation for companies in global transportation industries, such as airlines, tourism operators, postal and logistics companies, and railways.


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  1. Jennifer Blanke and Thea Chiesa, editors, “Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2009: Managing in a Time of Turbulence,” World Economic Forum: A comprehensive ranking and analysis, including detailed profiles for 133 countries.
  2. Ronald Haddock, Kevin Ma, and Edward Tse, “Tourism: China’s New Diaspora,” s+b, Spring 2007: How China’s economic growth — and its citizens’ increasing appetite for travel — will fuel the next tourism boom.
  3. Jürgen Ringbeck and Stephan Gross, “The Importance of Being a Must-See Destination,” s+b, 05/08/2007: How excellent travel and tourism policies, infrastructure, and services can translate into a vibrant economy.
  4. For more thought leadership on this topic, see the s+b website at:
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