With the decline of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the tourism and hospitality industry pick up steam once again. Love for travel  is a major part of our human culture, allowing us to discover, explore and is seen as a good thing. 

However, over the past 30 years, there has been a steady increase of awareness of our planet, specifically climate change and how we as humans are affecting our planet. Many organisations and companies are taking huge strides to reduce the damage they may cause.

According to a 2018 study conducted by Nature Climate Change suggested that tourism accounts for nearly 10% of all global greenhouse gas emissions – which is reasonably large considering how many industries exist today. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the concept of sustainable tourism, discuss its goals, the pros and cons and ultimately, how it can help your business. 

What Is Sustainable Tourism, Actually?

According to the United Nations, sustainable tourism is defined as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities” Truly sustainable and subsequently, responsible tourism, should make destinations better for people to live there as well.

The main goals of sustainable tourism according to the United Nations include:

  • Economic Viability
  • Local Prosperity
  • Employment Quality
  • Social Equity
  • Visitor Fulfillment
  • Local Control
  • Community Wellbeing 
  • Cultural Richness
  • Physical Integrity
  • Biological Diversity
  • Resource Efficiency
  • Environmental Purity

Why You Should Care About Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable tourism is on the rise, and we’re seeing that it’s not only benefiting the environment, but it has the potential to help businesses as well. Studies have shown that both Millennials and Gen Z are more risk-averse and are less likely to spend money. However, when they do spend money, they prefer to spend money with companies with brands that are more sustainable and brands that have ethical business standards.  

But they are also much more likely to influence others to make sustainability-first buying decisions. This can be seen in Generation X, as from 2019 to 2021, spending on sustainable brands and products increased by 24%. To add, it is estimated that 70% of global travellers are more likely to book accommodation if it’s eco-friendly and 55% of travellers want to book more sustainable travel in the future. 

Sustainable practices can lead to cost savings for hotels in the long run, by reducing energy and water bills, and minimising waste disposal costs.

Key Trends in Sustainable Tourism

  • Ecotourism: This type of tourism focuses on experiencing and preserving natural environments, promoting conservation efforts, and educating travellers on the importance of sustainable practices.
  • Community-based tourism: This model involves working with local communities to develop tourism activities that benefit both the visitors and the host communities. It aims to promote local cultures, provide economic opportunities, and encourage social empowerment.
  • Slow tourism: This trend involves slowing down the travel experience, allowing travellers to immerse themselves in the local culture and environment. It emphasizes quality over quantity and encourages responsible and sustainable travel practices.
  • Carbon-neutral tourism: This trend aims to reduce the carbon footprint of tourism by implementing sustainable practices such as renewable energy sources, waste reduction, and offsetting carbon emissions.
  • Sustainable accommodation: This trend promotes eco-friendly lodging options, such as green hotels, eco-lodges, and sustainable resorts. These accommodations incorporate environmentally-friendly practices and technologies to minimize their impact on the environment.

Examples of Sustainable Tourism

Crystalbrook Collection Hotels – Australia

Crystalbrook Collection hotels are  setting a remarkable standard in the hospitality industry. With a focus on environmental consciousness, these hotels are prioritising reducing their ecological footprint. They implement eco-friendly practices throughout their properties, including waste reduction, recycling programs, and energy-efficient technologies. Moreover, their dedication to local communities and indigenous partnerships ensures a socially and culturally sustainable approach. Crystalbrook Collection hotels seamlessly blend luxury and sustainability, creating an exceptional guest experience that leaves a positive impact on the planet.

Pro-Invest Group – Australia

Pro-invest Group is a leading private equity investment firm that specialises in sustainable investments in the hotel sector. They are committed to reducing the environmental impact of their hotels and promoting sustainable tourism practices. Their properties incorporate energy-efficient technologies, renewable energy sources, and water-saving measures, all of which significantly reduce their carbon footprint.  Pro-invest Group’s sustainability efforts demonstrate their commitment to environmental responsibility and showcase the potential for a more sustainable future in the hospitality industry.

Self-Sustainable ‘Azurmendi’ Restaurant – Spain

Located in Bilbao, Spain, Azurmendi is a renowned restaurant that boasts a prestigious three Michelin star rating, attesting to the exceptional quality of its cuisine. Yet, what sets this restaurant apart is its unwavering commitment to sustainability, ensuring that visitors can relish in the culinary delights while simultaneously engaging in sustainable tourism practices. The restaurant implements a range of eco-friendly initiatives, such as utilizing geothermal and solar energy to power its operations and sourcing vegetables from its own garden for its menu. Additionally, organic waste from the restaurant is repurposed into compost and provided to local farmers.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, sustainable tourism is not just a buzzword, but a continually growing movement that is increasingly shaping the travel industry. Travelers are becoming more aware of the impact of their travel on the environment and local communities, and are seeking out sustainable tourism options that prioritise conservation, community engagement, and responsible practices. There is always an opportunity for the tourism industry to operate in a more sustainable and equitable way. By embracing the key trends in sustainable tourism, such as ecotourism, community-based tourism, slow tourism, carbon-neutral tourism, and sustainable accommodations, we can create a more resilient and responsible tourism industry that benefits the people, the planet and your business.