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Environmental Policy of Tourism and Allied Sectors: Words and Deeds

Travel agents, tour operators, lodging and accommodation industries, food and beverage industries, and air, land and water transportation industries comprise basic tourism and allied sectors. Overall condition of environment is an outcome of their combined policies and practices.

According to some scholars (e.g., Honey 2008; Laudati 2010), ecotourism policies are designed to influence tourist preferences for the purpose of revenue generation, which is the principle consideration.

Other policy and practice issues that are contrary to the stated characters of ecotourism include the exploitative use of resources for higher financial gains, lack of respect for carrying capacity of the destination, using means of transportation with high CO2 emissions, wildlife and habitat disturbance and environmental degrading, negative impact on wildlife behavior, human migration to the area, decrease in growth of flora and fauna, unsustainable use of resources, the local dispossession of private land, and loss of control over the land use by local people (Banerjee 2010). The findings of Ghosh and Datta (2012) are valid for Turkey, too: The ecotourism policies and practices exclude local community members from decision-making processes and practices.

With respect to the existence of environmental policy, travel agents and hotels in general have poor records (Erdogan and Tosun 2009). For instance, Erdogan’s study (2012) found that 88.3 % of travel agents have no environmental programs, 89.9 % have no budget allocated for environmental protection, 91.6 % have no membership to any environmental NGOs, and 96.4 % have received no award for any environmental management.

One should never forget the fact that having an environmental policy or program for educating tourists and local people about conservation (e.g., Magnus et al. 2015; Yen-Ting et al. 2014) does not automatically translate into environmentally friendly practices. Having environmental policy, knowledge, education, awareness, attitudes, and opinions are not primary determining factors that lead those who decide, manage, and implement ecotourism policies and activities, because such determining factors are not free preferences or opinions of individuals, but vested interests of the organizational structures.

Studies that are related with the environmental and policy issues of tourism and allied sectors put forward numerous policy shortcomings and suggestions as remedy. All suggestions look very impressive and significant; however, most of them remain invalid because of the exclusion of structural and relational realities of daily professional practices: There are no industrial policy drawbacks regarding, for instance, noninvolvement of the local community, local impoverishment, and local and national leakage, because this is simply the way that industrial system operate.

 
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