Travel, Enjoy, Respect. The time is now for True Sustainable Tourism

The following is An article on Sustainable Tourism by Helene Delcommune. 2017 is the year of International Sustainable Tourism. I am very proud to be part of the team assisting to make Helene’s dream a reality in this very beautiful par to the world. Stay tuned for more updates on Ti, Ti, Ta projects.

2017 has been declared `The International Year of Sustainable Tourism’ by the United Nations General Assembly. Sustainable tourism is about ensuring that the impact of tourism on the environment and local culture is minimal, while at the same time offering a positive experience for the locals, companies or hotel operators and the tourists themselves.

Environmental consciousness among consumers is rising, and is increasingly being reflected in the choices and preferences of travellers, making investment in sustainable tourism a worthwhile investment. Investment in greener and sustainable tourism can, in itself, also be a means of creating jobs and new skills, while improving the environment for the locals. From where I sit, I believe it is ‘the only’ way to go, a new and improved way of thinking to ensure a better future for the tourism industry as a whole.

There are three facets that can be explored:

Sustainable Tourism and the Environment. In a world where the conventional forms of energy are contributing generously to global concerns like the greenhouse effect and global warming, the need to innovate and employ alternate or unconventional energy sources is high on all agendas. With statistics showing that tourists consume far higher amounts of energy and water than locals per day, green energy sources in the industry is a must. Some of the most recent innovations include Waste-to-Energy and the use of Canadian wells to heat or cool rooms.

When it comes to construction in tourism there are several aspects which may be considered. Limiting the visual impact of the property on the surrounding environment, respecting the natural contours of the land as well as the use of local and recycled materials such as wood, stone, iron and steel in hotel development to name a few.  Recognition that water is a precious resource; waste water treatment plans, FDA approved coating for natural pools, zero chemicals use and natural treatment of pools, no second class water or drainage running into contact with natural rivers, use of eco showers and soaps and the list goes on. When it comes to landscaping of the surrounding grounds it would be essential to protect the endemic flora. Replanting/reforestation zones and the use of bio fertilisers should also be encouraged.

Operational best practices could include controlling food wastage, recycling and composting, giving preference to local produce and the widespread use of electric cars, amongst other things. In adopting such practices it is also essential to inform and educate the visitors on the hotel’s philosophy and why the various procedures are in place. If the guest feels involved and engaged through knowledge of the “why” things are being done I believe they will be very happy to be a part of this.

Sustainable Tourism and Society. There are endless benefits to gain from sustainable tourism from a social perspective. Local job creation at all levels is one of the most valuable. The demand for these new roles in turn enables the development of knowledge and skills locally. In addition to this, the hotel would be leading by example, encouraging an eco-responsible attitude in schools, with hotel clients and guests, hotel staff, local partners and suppliers.

Tourism is marked by the rich cultural heritage that many countries enjoy. Citizens and tourists find inspiration in the cultural, religious and historical inheritance. This inheritance must be safeguarded and enhanced for the purposes of tourism. Promoting local heritage, culture, folklore and local craft, supporting the local communities through commitments to give back to locals as well as promoting interaction with local inhabitants, has a multiplier effect in terms of positive impact and benefits.

The shift from Quantity to Quality. A realisation that it is not about numbers but high range tourism may actually provide better results! Between 2014 and 2015, in just one year, the percentage of consumers who were willing to pay more for sustainable brands jumped from 55% to 66%, according to the Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report. In addition, 73% of younger generations are more likely to pay more for sustainability compared to 51% of the Baby Boomer generation.

According to the World Tourism Organisation, tourism today is at the forefront of some of the world’s most ambitious and innovative clean energy and ECO solutions. These solutions in tourism are bringing the sector’s carbon emissions down, protecting local environments and communities, carrying modern energy services to the world’s poor, cutting costs for businesses and creating jobs and economic opportunities. But clearly more must be done. With the number of tourists increasing year on year, now is the time to commit to a more sustainable tourism sector and a sustainable future for all.

Hélène Delcommune is the Founder and Project Curator of Ti,Ti,Ta. Ti, Ti, Ta is a world leader in developing high-end leisure projects which are renowned for their unique, forward thinking and sustainable infrastructure which supports and enables local natural and ecological resources.

Hélène has 15 years worldwide experience in developing local sustainable maritime tourism. She has always been passionate about the protection of both natural and cultural heritage while enhancing local communities as well as the economy.

Sustainable tourism is such a hot topic in the hotel industry that you’ve undoubtedly got some opinions of your own on the subject. Do you have any simple tips we’ve missed that would help the hospitality industry operate more sustainably?  
Contact Robyn at Robyn.Pratt@lai-consulting.com