Ecolabelling, certification and accreditation : elements of a possible model for the ecotourism industry in southern and eastern Africa

Pina, Ralph Felix (2004-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Geography and Environmental Studies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2004.


The paper examines the evolution of ecolabelling/certification in tourism in the context of the evolution of the concepts of sustainable development and tourism, certification’s definitions, motivations, international practices and challenges, and focuses on its intended function as a voluntary market mechanism. Parallels are drawn with the African experience and consideration is given to the particular problems of certification in Africa as a member of the Third World. Evidence is examined, including a local tourist survey that points to certification’s ineffectiveness as a means to influence consumer choice, at least in its current form as a voluntary, selfregulatory tool. An attempt is also made to disprove its effectiveness as a source of competitive advantage for tourism companies by considering it within the framework of competitive strategy theory. It is concluded that certification is a poor market mechanism. Consequently, elements of a model for the effective use of ecolabelling as a tool in a suite of sustainability tools in tourism in Africa, are proposed.

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