The Integration of Sustainable Tourism Practices by Tour Operators :

Author: Sibanda, Roselyn

The aim of the study was to assess the integration of sustainable tourism practices by tour operations in Victoria Falls. The problem which prompted this study was that due to the increase in the number of tour operators in Victoria Falls there is also a direct increase in the number of tourist arrivals in the area thereby increasing both the negative and positive impacts of tourism. Therefore the researcher saw a need to find out what Tour Operators were doing to mitigate these negative impacts and promote sustainable or responsible use of the resources that are precious to the Tourism business. The main objectives of the study were to discover the various sustainable initiatives and practices implemented by Tour Operators in their businesses and to find out the challenges faced by Tour Operators in the implementation of Sustainable Tourism practices. The study adopted an interpretivism paradigm which was more of qualitative in nature. The study objectives were met through the use of primary and secondary data which was collected through the use of questionnaires and structured interviews at selected Tour Operators in Victoria Falls. The major findings were that most Tour Operators defined Sustainable Tourism as an approach that seeks to minimize on the negative impacts on the economy, environment and cultural activities whilst maximizing positive impacts. However that results also showed that the majority of Tour Operators were not sure about a number of Sustainable Tourism issue such as whether sustainability is top priority for the tourism industry, if the tourism industry as a whole is negatively impacting the environment, whether customers prefer business that are making efforts to be sustainable, or if incentive programs should be developed to encourage businesses to become more sustainable. The study also revealed that Tour Operators were driven by all other factors surveyed such as social responsibility, competitiveness, public relations. Cost savings, moral obligation legal requirements and industry structure but not corporate. A number of challenges were faced by Tour Operators in their endeavor to implement Sustainable Tourism. It was concluded that Tour Operators understand what Sustainable Tourism is. However the fact that Tour Operators mentioned that they were not sure about the various issues on Sustainable Tourism shows that Tour Operators have knowledge of Sustainable Tourism but lack understanding about its application. The study also concluded that Tour Operators use most of the sustainable practices surveyed.