According to zoologist Desmond Morris in his controversial bestseller, „The Naked Ape“, older people are characterized by a heightened interest in animal preservation and conservation. Their interest is focused on those species that are in danger of extermination, e.g. bees, elephants, tigers and grey partridges. This emotional concern to save species from extinction reflects their desire to extend their own survival.
This is an innate human desire which the coach and group travel sector in particular should pay more attention to as it concerns its core customer segment. It presents a unique business opportunity to maintain existing clients while at the same time attracting a new generation of potentially concerned customers. It contains within it the seeds of a sustainable approach to group tourism development and to memorable trip delivery - engaging customers and tour operator staff as it does with pro-active involvement and more meaningful holiday and destination experiences.
In an earlier blog post I wrote about how hotels in co-operation with wholesalers and tour operators, for example, could effect sustainable local environment enhancements by planting native flowers, trees and shrubs instead of foreign species as a CO2 travel offset measure. Such an approach supports and enriches native fauna, songbirds and bees in particular. Imagine hotel guests awakening to the sound of songbirds twittering in the morning twilight and to the flavour of locally produced jams and honeys on their breakfast toast and freshly-baked bread.
Photo: "Nile Geese on the River Nidda" © Dr. Patrick Patridge
Annual reports on species and wildlife conservation are useful starting points in seeking appropriate sustainable initiatives which merit support, e.g. the Artenschutz Bericht 2015 in Germany or the State of Nature Report 2016 in the UK which, for example, brings together data and expertise from over 50 organisations, providing an update on how wildlife is faring across the UK and its seas, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.
International organisations such as the Species Survival Network, World Wildlife Fund and Endangered Species International - offer valuable advice to tour operators and holidaymakers and list measures that can be taken both in advance of a tour and on the ground locally during a trip to ensure that group tours are wildlife- and nature-friendly, e.g. on foodstuffs and souvenirs which should not be offered, bought or consumed, e.g. whale meat, puffin flesh, shark fins, coral and ivory.
Co-operation with a national wildlife conservation organisation in tourism destinations, e.g. Bird Watch Ireland - the largest independent conservation organisation in Ireland, is also a medium- to long-term option for sustainable tour operator engagement . Customers may also participate in all-important bird counts at certain times of the year – a hands-on, educational and memorable highlight, indeed, of any round-trip to the Emerald Isle.
Such occasions are also valuable press and social media promotion opportunities. Bird species now under greatest threat in Ireland include the Buzzard, the Curlew, the Corncrake, Barn Owl, the Kestrel and the Yellowhammer.
In Kent – the Garden of England – the Brogdale Collections, home to the UK national fruit collection - - offer not only guided group tours, festivals and events but also group courses, fresh fruit products, local ciders and Kentish wines. Participation and support, in this instance, could involve not only tour group visits and tree-planting occasions but also pro capita and company financial contributions per tour in support of this worthy charitable enterprise.
The benefit for customers here is that they cannot only see but they can also taste the results of their collective contributions and / or efforts both during and after their visits. The association with such initiatives helps reinforce customer identification with broader species and wildlife conservation themes while at the same time enhancing customer loyalty to tour operators and tourism destination brands.
The added bonus in the case of the Brogdale Collections and similar initiatives such as the Pomoretum in Triesdorf, Germany, is that the healthy, organic and delicious products may also be offered as highlights during consumer fairs, trade exhibitions and other promotions.
The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood
The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood is a poem by the US born Richard Fariña, set to the Irish air 'My Lagan Love' around 1966. Most prominently sung by Fairport Convention and Sandy Denny, the song laments the loss of the simple beauties and joys of nature caused through man's destruction.