October 25, 2022
How Can We Help Sustainable Tourism?
When visitors travel to new places, they enjoy every moment of watching marvels in World Heritage Sites, basilicas, famous hotels, art galleries, and unique gothic structures. Isn’t Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, or Cologne Cathedral, which was left unfinished for 350 years in Germany, a true wonder to experience in a lifetime? Some of these attractions have been here for hundreds or thousands of years, but the truth is that they might not be there for the next generations. The Mongols protected the Buddhas of Bamiyan for hundreds of years but the revered statutes are no longer there. Forests and biodiversity are also on a steady decline, which brings us to the big question, "how can we help sustainable tourism?” This post takes a closer look at the travel industry to identify the best strategies that we can employ to help it.
What is Sustainable Tourism?
According to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), sustainable tourism is a form of tourism that factors in the current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts, meeting the needs of professionals, visitors, communities, and the environment. In particular, sustainable tourism focuses on three core areas. These are:
- Optimising the use of environmental resources, which forms a crucial part of maintaining ecological processes, tourism development, and biodiversity conservation.
- Identifying and respecting the socio-cultural authenticity of local communities and supporting their traditional values. Furthermore, sustainable tourism should target contributing towards their intercultural knowledge and tolerance.
- Facilitating long-term economic operations, while ensuring that all social and economic benefits flow to all stakeholders, including hotels, staff, and communities.
This definition shows that green travel is not a one-party thing. Rather, all parties should be involved, and the benefits have to trickle to everyone. Note that some benefits will be direct and indirect.
Benefits that Come from Sustainable Tourism
- Helps to protect endangered animals from getting extinct.
- Useful in protecting natural landscapes and environments.
- Cutting down pollution from both businesses and individuals.
- Comes in handy in sharing knowledge between different parties.
- Promoting good health for both people and animals.
- Identifies and preserves useful traditions.
- Promotes cohesion between communities and businesses at the local and international levels.
The Best Strategies for Promoting Sustainable Tourism
The benefits we have looked at above are only a few of what you should anticipate from sustainable tourism. The list can be way longer, but only if we act responsibly. So, here are some of the best strategies and actions that we can use to promote sustainable tourism.
Avoiding or Reducing the Use of Plastics
About 8 million metric tonnes of plastic find their way into the oceans every year. This is approximately one truck-full of plastic waste being tossed into oceans every minute. Plastics come from packaging containers, grocery bags, water bottles, gloves, and take-out containers. Once in the environment, plastics take a long time to degrade, chock the drainage systems, damage the fish spawning grounds, and block the digestive systems of animals.
To address the problem, hotels, industrial facilities, and governments have been looking for alternatives to replace plastics. One of the methods preferred by green hotels is using refillable bottles in their facilities. They also use continuous flow taps for products like shampoos in the guest rooms. In the dining rooms, washable utensils can help to reduce the need for disposable plastics.
Only Visit Green Hotels
For sustainability to yield more results, travellers should target identifying and only using green hotels. These are hotels that go out of their way to ensure that they have positive environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts. You can identify these hotels by checking their operations. Here are some indicators that show you are working with a green hotel:
- A hotel that supports local communities to preserve their identities and live in peace.
- It has its sustainability reports prepared accurately and published for all stakeholders to read.
- The hotel has installed good strategies to cut down energy use. One of the best ways is by installing proven and sustainable energy-saving solutions such as CONTINEWM which is designed to reduce the energy consumption of AC units by 25% on average.
- Discourages harmful practices such as child labour and human trafficking.
- It uses the best practices for staff motivation and development.
Cut Down Travel Carbon Footprint
The problem of global warming has become a major challenge for all. According to UNEP, every person must put effort into cutting down their carbon footprint to counter global warming. However, businesses such as resorts and hotels have a bigger role in helping to cut down travel carbon footprint because of their extensive operations. Hotels that help to reduce carbon footprint employ the following strategies:
- Use clean energy sources, such as solar and wind energy.
- Have installed reliable strategies for increasing the efficiency of different facilities. A good example is CONTINEWM, which helps to increase the efficiency of HVAC systems by reducing electrostatic charges.
- Works with local communities for supplies, especially local delicacies served to guests. If the food is sourced from abroad, a lot of emissions would be released by the vehicles used to transport them.
- The hotel should also have a comprehensive report on its efforts to cut down GHG emissions and reduce travel carbon footprint.
Partner with Other Organisations and Businesses Committed to Sustainable Tourism
To make a greater positive impact on sustainable tourism, it is crucial to partner with other organisations. The partnership can help to encourage others about the efforts being undertaken to make the planet a better place. Indeed, you might not be able to achieve much when working alone, but the effect will be immense after combining efforts. To support tourism, there are two awesome ways of working with other organisations and businesses.
- Partner with organisations that help to promote sustainable tourism: These organisations can help you understand the concept of sustainability, offer direct support and capacity building. Some of the best organisations to consider are Climate Fresk, the Global Reporting Initiative, and UNEP.
- Work with other businesses in the hotel supply chain. If you work so hard, perhaps to cut down carbon emissions, but suppliers are heavy polluters, the net effect on the environment will be negative. Therefore, you should work with them to ensure they work sustainably. Make sure to put emphasis on a lower travel carbon footprint.
The more organisations join hands and work towards a common goal, the greater the impact will be on sustainability. Remember that such partnerships should also be reviewed to ensure they strengthen your focus on sustainable tourism.
Respect and Support Local Communities
In the definition of sustainable tourism, the World Tourism Organisation gives a lot of emphasis on the local communities. For green hotels, the local communities come in handy in supporting them by acting as the immediate source of staff, food and other supplies. Your facility should identify the local communities and use the following tips to support them:
- Check the local events and cultures that are associated with the community and look for ways of supporting them. You can work with the local administration to see the calendar of traditional events and try to be part of their ceremonies.
- Appreciate the religion of the local communities. If they have holy sites or monuments, ensure to respect them. For example, some might require you to avoid taking guests to areas where only religious leaders are allowed to go. In other cases, it might mean taking off shoes, not taking photos, or only talking in a low voice.
- In addition to traditions and cultures, make sure to respect the local laws, policies and guidelines. These include rules for traffic, health, and other precautions. If your travel facility receives guests from other countries who might not be conversant with the local policies, guide them to enjoy every tourist facility without breaking the law.
Support Initiatives Developed to Enhance Biodiversity
Promoting biodiversity is one of the key areas of sustainable tourism. The problem of shrinking biological diversity is mainly caused by encroachment and damage to their natural habitats. Therefore, when you watch an elephant, Bengal tiger, or jaguar in the wilderness, know that action is needed urgently to safeguard it for future generations. Here are some actions that you can take to promote biodiversity and sustainable tourism:
- Support organisations that help to promote ecological conservation: These groups can be local communities or specialised units that work to help promote flora and fauna to flourish. Remember that you can achieve the same objective even when working with groups far from your location or country.
- Support organisations that promote forestry activities: Most of the animals that live in the forest only need to have their ecosystems restored to thrive. Therefore, you can check for groups that work on forestry projects, especially in restoring fragile ecosystems. This effort can make your green hotel to outshine competitors and attract more clients.
- Support policies on ecological diversity: Most countries have policies that discourage poaching, trade on wildlife products, and damage to forests. By helping develop such policies or their implementation, you are sure to advance sustainable tourism in the selected region.
Sustainability is very important for our planet, and is important for every person to get involved. As we have demonstrated in this post, there is so much that we can do to help make the planet a better place and promote sustainable tourism. For hotels, this focus is even more critical because being labelled one of the best green hotels might be all that you need to become more successful. Remember to always review the efforts for promoting sustainability and look for ways to make a greater impact.