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Are Tourism Pledges PR Stunts or Conservation Powerhouses?

July 31, 2019
Timeshare Travel Vacation

In recent years, the negative effects of "Instagram Tourism" have become a major issue for tourist destinations. So much so that Jackson Hole recently launched their "Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild" campaign. The tourism pledge is a concept that arose from the early days of over-tourism and has become a valuable tool to entice visitors to adhere to common courtesy and environmental consciousness while enjoying their timeshare vacation in the great outdoors. For example, Hawaii, one of the most popular timeshare destinations, asks visitors to sign the Pono Pledge to be safe, responsible and respectful to each other and the environment while enjoying the bounty of the island of Hawai'i.

So what is a tourism pledge and how does it work? A tourism pledge is an educational document alerting timeshare travelers about the conservation needs of a destination and requesting their commitment to help protect the local environment. One of the most successful tourism pledges was conducted by the tiny nation of Palau in 2017. Palau took the unprecedented step to change its immigration law to enforce a passport stamp which all tourists must sign in order to be granted entry into the country. Additionally, the arrivals form, an in-flight video, and a brochure tucked in traveler's passports all explain the nation's conservation code and the consequences of failing to follow these guidelines. Studies have shown, not only is this pledge affecting the impact of tourists on the environment, it has also established Palau as a preferred destination for people who value conservation.

In the American West the Pledge for The Wild was recently launched as an attempt to bring similar success to the popular timeshare vacation destinations of Bend, Bozeman, Flagstaff, Lake Tahoe and Steamboat Springs. Unlike the Palau Pledge, Pledge for the Wild isn't mandatory and asks travelers to utilize a text-to-donate channel that funnels donations to local environmental nonprofits. The suggested donation is just $1 for every hour spent in a wild area, making it an easy and affordable way for visitors to ensure they have a positive impact on the areas they are enjoying.

It might be easy to dismiss such pledges as a PR stunt but in reality, these pledges can have a significant effect in attracting the kind of high-value, conscientious timeshare travelers that destinations are eager to host. By explaining the negative effects of tourism they seek to appeal to the hearts and minds of vacationers, making it more difficult to consider dropping an empty water bottle on a trail, or feeding local wildlife. On your next timeshare vacation, check out the destination's visitors bureau website to see if they have a pledge that champions nature.

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