The need for sustainable tourism marketing mix in Indonesia?

tourismThe subject of sustainable tourism has become a global trend, and studies on sustainable tourism marketing (STM) in the past ten years have increased rapidly and consistently. Generally, this study departs from the supply-based approach; and followed by the demand-based approach on the later. Often the phenomenon of STM research is overlapping with sustainable tourist behavior, green marketing, economic sustainability, socially responsible marketing, and corporate social responsible marketing. In recent years, especially since 2010, the study of STM began to mention sustainable tourism marketing mix (STMM) as an effective marketing strategy in achieving organizational goals. However, the review of STMM is not well developed, even though we comprehend that professional marketers widely use the marketing mix concept, and sustainable tourism is already a mature concept and in line with global demands of the present and the future. Based on Google Scholar’s, the keyword “sustainable tourism marketing” produced 377 articles, “sustainable marketing mix” produced 75 articles, and the search for “sustainable tourism marketing mix” appeared in eight articles. If we look at the publication timeline, the first publication of STM was mentioned in 1994, SMM was in 1999, and for the STMM, the first article published in 2009. Notably, eight writings of STMM were published in the period 2009 to 2014, while from 2015 to the present is absence.

Reviewing the STMM research, Pomering was one of the people who first adopted and published the term. He departed from a question “Sustainable tourism marketing what should be in the mix?” then proceeded to propose an STMM model generated from inductive research from the addition of marketing mix elements that were cross-tabulated with the sustainability imperatives of the Population, Planet, and Profit also known as a Triple Bottom Line concept. In 2017 his latest publication on STMM discussed how all the construct elements of STMM influence the formation of value for the customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Of all the studies published, none of the empirical evidentiary efforts related to the STMM concept were found. So far he only discussed STMM at the level of concept strengthening. Several other researchers who study STMM just publish articles in journals whose reputation is doubtful. This conditions can be seen by the absence of a framework of thought, specific research methods, problem formulation, and even the tendency to do plagiarism from the results of previous writing. However, two other researchers raised STMM with a slightly different theme. Smyrnov tried to mention STMM in the context of his geography approach which irrelevant with our purpose, while Meler and Magaš superficially review STMM relating to the behavior and the need for the implementation of new policies and strategies in the context of the discussion of sustainable marketing for sustainable development.

Unfortunately, the STMM study has not been empirically done. This condition will only put STMM as a concept that has not been tested in practice. A concept should be built, tested and implemented to prove its accuracy. Therefore, the researchers believe that the STMM test will undoubtedly be able to fill this gap of knowledge. As mentioned, this STMM will form value for the customers, clients, partners, and society at large so a study of how causality between each element and as a whole-systems of STMM toward perceived value is relevant to sustainable marketing strategy today. Which constructs have the most significant impact, are the constructs adequate, or are they lacking so that they need to be added or merged/reduced, how are they related, and how are their adoption and implementation in marketing strategies in the daily marketing life.

On the other hand, Indonesia’s tourism is currently prioritizing and focusing on as a sustainable tourist destination (STD). Ironically, Indonesia’s tourism competitiveness for the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Travel Environment and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) is still low. Furthermore, Indonesia’s destinations as STD considered insignificant as presented by several influential publications. This presence is in contrast to the positioning of the government which places sustainable tourism as a priority. So an empirical study on how STMM and its causality with perceived values in Indonesia are very suitable to be carried out, to get a more precise picture of what the government should do in improving its marketing strategy performance. (ay)

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