Voluntary Initiatives for Sustainability in Tourism

ITEM 5 - TOURBENCH project comes to an end

A number of the VISIT ecolabels have been involved in a very innovative project to develop a common approach to monitoring and benchmarking in ecolabels. This project called tourbench is now complete and the lessons learned from the various efforts to gain useful data from tourism businesses are being collated.

The GTBS one of the largest ecolabels in Visit has nearly completed their evaluation of the successes and lessons learned and these are highlighted below:

1. Tourism is a broad industry and benchmarking efforts should be confined to a small user group and establish a useful tool for this subsector rather than a generic tool for all tourism businesses.
2. Most businesses will only undertake benchmarking if the system is able to produce rapid results which are transparent and easily understood
3. There is a general suspiscion with providing sensitive commercial data to an organisation which is not known to the business
4. There is a growing reluctance to provide data onto an online system in case it results in follow up spam emails
5. There is a lack of confidence and patience in systems which may ask irrelevent questions in relation to the businesses activities.
6. A unified approach is difficult to establish across a rapidly evolving tourism marketplace with its own specific characteristics dependent on the destination.
7. Benchmarking as a tool has a great deal to offer tourism businesses provided it closely meets their specific business footprint.

Overall the project has been an interesting development which has allowed the GTBS to trial a number of different data gathering and benchmaking methods in order to better define the needs and goals of benchmarking in tourism businesses. Our experience also demonstrated the need to focus benchmarking on simpler and more specific goals tied to particular tourism industries such as small guest houses in the UK rather than the larger goals such as the campsite activities which representted only a small part of the GTBS certification scheme.

The final report for the project as a whole is being completed by Syncera leisure and they are collating all the results from the online system together with details provided by the different partners. When this is available we will publish this on the VISIT21.net website.

Sept 2006