Added value The VISIT Image campaign  

About this Publication
Foreword
Europe
The European Union
Destinations
Table: core set of indicators
Eco-labelling tourism
The tourism market
The VISIT approach
The VISIT Standard
The VISIT eco-labels
The VISIT message
Easy access to eco-labelled products
The VISIT Association
Outlook 2010
Word of thanks

 

The VISIT message




Added value for the visitor and the environment

In raising the image of eco-labels and underlying products a proper communication to the consumer is essential. In-depth consumer (panel) research has shown that – although consumers are aware of the potential envir­onmental implications of their holiday – environmental issues are of only minor importance for most consumers during the holiday decision making pro­cess. Psychologically a holiday is perceived as “individual freedom in an intact world” (ECEAT projects). During their holiday, people would like to forget personal and collective problems and their own limitations.

This psychology is used when selling tourism products to consumers. Within product descriptions, images and brochure design, the concept of “complete freedom in a world, which still is as it should be” is communicated. Therefore, from a marketing perspective the reference to a “damaged” environment or to an expected “correct” behaviour can be easily counter productive. Selling environmentally-friendly or responsible products should therefore never be primarily focused on “moral” aspects only, e.g. “by buying this pro­duct you contribute to the social well being of the poor local po­pulation” or “by booking this trip you support the struggle against the destruction of nature”.

However, as consumers are attracted to destinations with an image of an unspoilt environment, they do feel disrupted and irritated if their holiday destination is not “intact” (waste, dirty bathing water, noise, bad treatment of local employees, damaging local environment). It is therefore increasingly important that tourism marketers do not only promote the image of an ideal world, but that they can also guarantee this to the consumer. Eco-labels help to provide such a guarantee. Such an “added value” can make the difference in a highly competitive tourism market. Consumers should realise that an intact environment is not assumed, but should be taken into account when choosing a destination for a holiday.

The VISIT awareness and image campaign

t is essential to inform tourists in a positive way by linking the environmental quality with the quality of the product and the experience. Environmental quality should be connected with positive feelings and experiences, such as: small-scale, quality service, personal relations, traditions, intact and protected nature, rest, modern lifestyle and healthy (organic) & local food.
Quality and environment are naturally two sides of the same coin: eco-labelled products provide good quality service and quality products should respect the environment:
eco-labelled products are “Quality Plus” products.

Based on this understanding of consumer perception the VISIT initiative has developed its communication strategy for environmental quality in tourism. In 2002, the UN Year of eco-tourism, the VISIT image campaign was launched under the motto:

„Caring for the Environment …
…is caring for the Visitor“

This slogan connects environmental quality with the quality of the product and experiences. The pictures combine the “visitor” with the “environmental quality”, the short text raises awareness and can easily be understood and accepted. Published in many languages the slogan contri­butes to raise the overall awareness of the issues and the image of eco-labels complying with the VISIT standard. Thus, it is complementary to individual promotional activities on a national level, or with focus on specific target groups.
This campaign will be carried on after the end of the LIFE project.