Establishing Best-practice Environmental Management: Lessons from the Australian Tour-boat Industry
The environmental impacts of tour-boat operations are generally difficult to control through existing legislation and regulation alone. Policing the relevant provisions at a large scale usually becomes too costly to justify their expense in relation to their likely magnitude of impact As an alternative to legislation and regulations imposed by government and management authorities, industry self-regulation has been promoted in Australia to minimize tour-boat-related impacts The initial aims of this study were: (i) to assess the current level of use of formal, non-legislative environmental-management guidelines by Australian tour-boat operators (thereby allowing the identification of best practice in environmental-management measures); (ii) to try to establish what factors influence the level of compliance of tour-boat operators to formal, non-legislative environmental-management guidelines; and (iii) to gain an insight into the effect of the Australian tour-boat industry on the environment The methodology used was: (i) survey questionnaires administered during face-to-face personal interviews; and (ii) individual in situ boat audits carried out incognito. However, after almost 120 days in the field, nearly 1000 phone calls and investing considerable funds to become available to the operators, only 47 interviews and 32 individual boat audits were completed. The problem pivotal to the study was the tour-boat operators. Most were generally very unwilling to cooperate in the survey for many reasons, including: survey fatigue; being too busy during the survey period; and a belief that they should not be answering the questionnaire -mostly because they could not see themselves as part of the tourism industry Even when the operators did agree to participate in the survey, the majority were somewhat defensive and hostile. Given this type of response, it would seem unlikely that industry self-regulation as it is currently implemented and promoted will be effective for the larger tour-boat operator industry sector Inefficient or poor investment is seen as one of the major impediments to the successful implementation and adoption of industry self-regulation measures and hence the adoption of best-practice measures for environmental management.
Nature-based Tourism, Environment and Land Management