Sustainable Innovation: Challenges in the Tourism Industry

Sustainable Innovation: Challenges in the Tourism Industry

Cristina Silva Araújo, António Carrizo Moreira
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2704-7.ch011
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Tourism is an industry, very focused on economic growth, with significant negative environmental and social impacts. Consequently, the tourism industry faces major challenges related to sustainability. Sustainable innovation is a tool that contributes not only to increased business competitiveness but can also play an important role in mitigating the negative impacts that such growth can generate. Recognizing the opportunity that this innovation can have in the tourism industry, this chapter analyzes the state of the art and systematizes the knowledge and evolution of the academic debate about this relationship between sustainable innovation and tourism from 1992 to 2018. This chapter indicates that sustainable tourism is focused on seven major areas of research and predominantly analyzed through quantitative methods. It is still an embryonic topic with scarce research done in several areas, such as the monitoring of its impacts, the effects felt by the communities of tourist destinations, and the impacts that sustainable innovation may have on other tourism subsectors.
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The world is rapidly changing and the growing environmental concerns are the result of careless development disregarding the environment (Hansen et al., 2000). The lack of concern for the environment has created negative outcomes, such as global warming, the deterioration of biodiversity, natural ecosystems and global warming (Schor, 2005; Tseng et al., 2013). It is important to stress that, current approaches to sustainability, such as efficiency improvements and cleaner production, on their own, do not underpin sustainability (Short, Bocken, Barlow, & Chertow, 2014). As such, sustainability needs to be included as a key driver for business innovation. As such, only if sustainable development goals are included in the process of innovation and are perceived as a source of competitive advantage businesses are going to actively embrace it instead of considering it as an obligation or burden (Nidumolu, Prahalad, & Rangaswami, 2009).

Innovation is considered an essential driving force for economic growth (European Commission, 1995; OECD, 2016) and is at the basis of businesses’ competitive advantages (Brandão & Costa, 2013). However, in spite of its traditional economic-based perspective, focused on the acquisition and production of wealth (Smerecnik & Andersen, 2011), innovation does not automatically lead to the progress and well-being of society (Vollenbroek, 2002). Innovation needs to be targeted to a sustainable and balanced development that involves not only an economic dimension, but also the environmental and social dimension encompassing broad societal concerns without neglecting economic sustainability (Vollenbroek, 2002; Brezonec, 2013). As such, sustainable innovation can help mitigate the negative social and environmental impacts that a simplistic economic view entails (Barbieri, Vasconcelos, Andreassi, & Vasconcelos, 2010).

Tourism, one of the world’s fastest growing industries (Hallenga-Brink & Brezet, 2005) has been geared essentially towards economic growth (e.g., Faché, 2000; Knowles et al., 1999). This feature has contributed to create significant negative impacts both on the environment and on the community (Chou et al., 2012; Dibra, 2015; González & León, 2001; Horng et al., 2017; OCDE, 2013). As such, sustainable innovation can be used to identify ways to ensure and maximize positive economic benefits (Bramwell & Lane, 2012; OCDE; 2013) and mitigate negative ecological and social impacts (Liburd et al., 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Systematic Literature Review: A specific type of literature review that uses systematic methods to collect content, secondary data and research methods that critically appraise research studies, and synthesize findings qualitatively or quantitatively. Systematic literature reviews (SLRs) are normally based as the result of research questions that seek to identify and synthesize studies that directly relate to the systematic review question. SLRs are designed to provide a complete, exhaustive summary of current evidence relevant to the research questions formulated.

Sustainable Development: The organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural ecosystems and resources that both the economy and society depend. As such, it can be defined as the development that meets the needs of the present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Tourism: Involves the commercial provision and the demand of specific services. Tourism is a product of social arrangements involving the process of spending time away from home, normally involving recreation, pleasure, and relaxation – although in more recent times it also involves other activities as medial torism, academic tourism, industrial tourism, business tourism, pilgrimage, among others.

Green Consumer: The type of consumer that is concerned with individual environmental and social needs. It normally addresses the market in such a way that penalizes maximization of profits that disregards the maximization of the satisfaction of consumer needs, in accordance with the environment restrictions and regulations.

Sustainability: Composed of three pillars: economic, environmental, and social needs. Sustainability is concerned with the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It encourages businesses to be concerned with and frame their decision-making process with a long term orientation rather than short-term needs regading economic, environmental an social needs.

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