Managing Impacts of Tourism When Authentic Storytelling is Not Enough

Hilary Lewkowitz | May 21, 2019


Authentic storytelling and strategic distribution can play a critical role in targeting travelers that spend more and minimize their impacts. However, a responsible travel narrative is not enough to combat potential impacts of tourism. In order to ensure sustainable tourism development, marketing strategy needs to be balanced with destination management, policies and best practices.

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At GLP Films, we strive to improve our storytelling and marketing strategies to push the travel industry forward. When we launched the Raja Ampat video on Youtube, it quickly gained traction with over 80,000 organic video views and also sparked an engaging discussion with over 90 comments. Some audience members voiced their legitimate concerns over the growing popularity and vulnerability of this region, and their desire to protect it. When concerns surfaced such as “this video is contributing to the demise of this beautiful area…” or “please keep it expensive…it will be flooded with garbage,” we took these comments to heart.

Team GLP had a discussion about what we can do to improve our content and strategy to ensure sustainable tourism is at the forefront of all client campaigns. For the Raja Ampat video, we worked with SeaTrek Sailing Adventures to target the responsible traveler and focus on authentic low-impact experiences. After hearing this YouTube dialogue, we realized we can do better by including strategic messaging in our campaigns to better educate and encourage responsible travel. Here’s our revamped strategy to ensure our marketing supports sustainable tourism development:


1. Partner with destinations, tour operators and accommodations that are committed to sustainable tourism development

In the case of Raja Ampat, we worked with a tour operator and destination with existing sustainable tourism policies and best practices. SeaTrek Sailing Adventures specializes in small ship cruises on the traditional Pinisi Boat with immersive educational experiences and an extensive list of sustainability initiatives. Raja Ampat is a Marine Protected Area with an entry fee to access Raja Ampat Marine Park. Large cruise ships were recently banned from the fragile island port of Amborek. In addition, the government has a sustainable tourism development policy.

Related Content: Watch the Webinar on Sustainable Tourism Marketing Strategies 

Do your research and travel responsibly. Make sure you choose tour operators and accommodations that minimize their environmental impact, gives back to local communities and respects local culture. For more tips, visit:
— GLP Films

2. Identify marketing strategies and strategic messaging based on the destination

Every travel destination experiences unique challenges. Raja Ampat is an emerging destination where tourism revolves around the archipelago’s fragile marine ecosystem. In this case, strategic messaging should educate and equip travelers with sustainable travel resources, and contain the following statement integrated into the video and campaign content.


3. Target travel markets that trend towards responsible travel behavior

We targeted the North America adventure travel market for our marketing campaign with SeaTrek Sailing Adventures. According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, 67% of adventure traveler trip costs remain in the region. Also, adventure travelers tend to be more interested in authentic local experiences and more likely to travel responsibly.

Related Content: Attracting the High Value Traveler


4. Storytelling that shows authentic experiences that minimize impacts to the environment and culture, and maximize benefits to local community

Research shows that storytelling elicits an emotional response that is more likely to influence behavior. So, authentic storytelling can be used as a tool to attract responsible travelers by showing a compelling story that emulates an experience this travel demographic finds valuable.

Related Content: Storytelling and Content Marketing Strategies for the Travel Industry


It takes creativity and innovation from the entire industry to ensure travel is sustainable. GLP Films is committed to adapting content marketing strategies to ensure we are doing our part to move the industry forward. We are constantly inspired by the forward thinking of industry leaders. What is your commitment to improve sustainable tourism?