Category: Blog

Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge in Cornish, NH

What is a DMO, and how is it used to develop a community into a tourist destination?

To begin examining the success of Discover Sugar River Region as a Destination Management Organization (DMO), we must first discuss what a DMO is and how it can be used as a community catalyst.

Destination Management Organization: It is an organization responsible for promoting a specific destination, such as a city, region, or country, to attract tourists, businesses, and investment.

They typically engage in marketing, advertising, and promotional activities to showcase the attractions and amenities of their respective destinations to potential tourists. In many cases, it can be used to bring awareness to unknown destination, thus acting as a community catalyst.

Discover Sugar River Region DMO Logo
Discover Sugar River Region DMO Logo

Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) serve as catalysts for community development through various means:

  • Economic Boost: DMOs stimulate economic development by promoting tourism, which generates revenue. This influx of funds fosters business growth, job creation, and overall prosperity.
  • Enhanced Image: DMOs strategically market and brand the destination, enhancing its appeal to tourists, investors, and residents. By positioning the destination as unique and attractive, DMOs increase its competitiveness and attract further investment.
  • Infrastructure Improvement: The increased tourism facilitated by DMOs often leads to infrastructure enhancements, benefiting visitors and locals.
  • Cultural Preservation: DMOs preserve the destination’s cultural heritage and natural assets, fostering local pride and identity.
  • Community Engagement: DMOs engage stakeholders, including government agencies, businesses, and residents, in tourism planning and decision-making.
  • Sustainable Practices: DMOs advocate for responsible tourism policies and support sustainable initiatives to minimize negative impacts on the environment and communities. By promoting sustainable practices, DMOs contribute to the destination’s long-term viability.
  • Infrastructure Development: DMOs may collaborate with local authorities and businesses to improve infrastructure such as accommodations, and public facilities. These improvements not only enhance the visitor experience but also benefit residents by providing better services and amenities.
  • Education and Training: DMOs may offer training and educational programs to local residents, equipping them with the skills needed to participate in the tourism industry. This can create employment opportunities and empower individuals to take advantage of the economic benefits of tourism.

Unique Communities in the Sugar River Region in Sullivan County, New Hampshire

The Sugar River region in New Hampshire is located primarily in the western part of the state and covers 527 sq. miles in Sullivan County, New Hampshire. The Sugar River itself flows through this region, starting in the towns of Sunapee and Croydon. It winds its way through communities such as Newport and Claremont.

Map of Sullivan County, New Hampshire (Sugar River Region)
Map of Sullivan County, New Hampshire

This area is known for its picturesque landscapes, outdoor recreational opportunities, and historic towns. The Sugar River Rail Trail, a popular recreational trail, follows the path of the former Claremont and Concord Railroad along the Sugar River. It provides opportunities for walking, biking, and other outdoor activities.

 In addition, snow sport activities are popular in the winter months including cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and skiing/snowboarding. Mount Sunapee Resort is a 233-acre skiing destination with a wide variety of terrain for the entire family.

The Sugar River region in New Hampshire offers a mix of rural charm, outdoor adventure, and historical significance, making it a popular destination for visitors and residents alike. Furthermore, communities in the region include: Acworth, Charlestown, Claremont, Cornish, Croydon, Goshen, Grantham, Langdon, Lempster, Newport, Plainfield, Springfield, Sunapee, Unity, and Washington.

Transformation of a Region of New Hampshire Through Collaborative Community Effort

The Mission: Discover Sugar River Region as a Destination Management Organization develops, promotes, and sustains our regional assets to create a thriving visitor economy, improve quality of life for all who live and visit here and becoming a community catalyst.

The Vision: The Sugar River Region provided residents and visitors with an authentic New Hampshire experience through a diverse array of recreational, cultural, economic, and agricultural opportunities.

Sullivan County is one of the least visited areas of New Hampshire, so the goal of the Destination Management Organization is to be that community catalyst. In its first year, Discover Sugar River Region aims to solidify its brand identity, establish key performance indicators, and set long-term objectives while executing initial marketing strategies, materials, and approaches as detailed in this plan.

Through partnerships and active involvement within the community, the organization endeavors to enhance recognition of the destination and its exceptional tourism offerings by employing narrative-driven campaigns and collaborative promotional efforts within the constraints of a budget.

Creating strategic organizational objectives in Destination Management Organizations and positioning a brand as a catalyst in the tourism industry:

The overall objectives of a destination marketing strategy are to:

  • define the brand positioning and guiding principles 
  • create strategic goals
  • identify the target audience
  • outline tactics to deploy

For Discover Sugar River Region, there is a geographic focus in their marketing strategy with the hopes of targeting visitors a short drive distance away (including Vermont, Massachusetts, southwest Main, and east central New York). Other targets are long drive/coach bus roach trippers to New England. Amtrak travelers on the Vermonter represent a potential market as well. 

The goal of the project is to target people in the tourism market seeking family fun, local creativity (art enthusiasts, specifically). As well as outdoor adventurers, history, and seasonal travel.

Social media is being employed as an important tool in the marketing process. Local businesses, resorts, and events can be broadcast to the public and reach new people. The DMO can help curate its brand through social media such as Instagram, Facebook, and its website.

Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge in Cornish, NH
The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge spanning the Connecticut River

The Arts as a Catalyst used by Destination Management Organizations

A study done by Americans for the Arts looked at the Economic and Social Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and their audiences in Sullivan County, NH. They conducted a survey in 373 diverse regions of the county, Sullivan County being one of them. 

The survey asked how much “Audiences Demonstrate Appreciation for the Impact of Arts and Culture”

  • 79.1% said this venue of facility is an important pillar for me within my community
  • 85.4% said “I would feel a great sense of loss if this activity or venue were no longer available”
  • 89.0% said “This activity or venue is inspiring a sense of pride in this neighborhood or community”
  • 86/9% said “My attendance is my way of ensuring that this activity or venue is preserved for future generations”

Based on this survey, the residents of the Sugar River Region value the arts and its impact. The study showed the economic and social impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry. Surprisingly, in Sullivan County, the sector generates $10.2 million in overall economic activity during 2022.

Arts and culture strengthen the visitor economy, with 41.9% of attendees who are nonlocal visitors spending $37.71. 78.9% of nonlocal visitors stated that their primary purpose of visiting the region was to attend an art-related event.

So, Discover River Region aims to continue supporting the development of the arts in the region further, as it is one of the main economic drivers.

Children drawing in a park
Children drawing in a park

Destination Management Organization Creating a Brand to be a Catalyst in Collaboration with the Community:

The Chairperson of the Board of Directors for DSRR and Chamber of Commerce, Elyse Crossman, hopes the DMO will help create a regional sense of identity and pride in the region. The area has long been overlooked in New Hampshire, and she hopes this will slowly change through their tourism development work.

Infographic explaining the various agencies involved in supporting DSRR
Infographic explaining the various agencies involved in supporting DSRR

The DMO is still in its early stages, so the extent of its success as a community catalyst is still to be determined; but Elyse Crossman has high hopes. One of the things Solimar brought to the process is helping everyone get to their vision of a shared identity. During the development, Elyse has seen a willingness to collaborate from local businesses that she has never seen before.

Developing a Sustainable Future for The Sugar River Region

Ultimately, the goal of Solimar’s work in the region is to set up a DMO that will run smoothly after the contract is finished. The project is off to a successful start, but there is still vital work to be done to ensure its long-term viability.

The Sugar River Region Project team to lay the foundation for the DMO to run smoothly into the future. Additionally, community engagement and collaboration are key to the success of this endeavor. The overall hope of the DMO is to increase the quality of life for residents of the region through economic stimulation. This will make the Sugar River Region a desirable destination to visit, work, and live.

Aerial photograph of Downtown Claremont, New Hampshire
Aerial photograph of Downtown Claremont, New Hampshire

Learn more about the Sugar River Region and all of the great things to see, do, and eat in the region HERE!

 

AI

Understanding the Role of AI in the Tourism Industry

In recent years, the tourism industry has witnessed a transformative shift in how travelers plan and book their trips, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technology that empowers machines to learn and autonomously make decisions. This technology is propelled by natural language processing, meaning that it does not need human assistance to interact with customers, as it can simulate human intelligence. For instance, AI can solve problems, identify similar patterns, make decisions, and learn from mistakes. Particularly, businesses in the tourism industry use AI to improve customer service and perform administrative tasks.

AI has changed the tousrim industry
Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels   

Tourism development is undoubtedly an ongoing process, but how has AI changed the tourism industry? How did tourism companies implement cutting-edge AI technology, and what is the outcome? Let’s delve further into this topic to investigate.

Key Features of Chatbots and Virtual Assistants 

An increasing number of companies are beginning to use chatbots and virtual assistants to allocate human resources effectively and optimize administrative tasks. Thus, it has been extensively adopted by multiple travel companies for online customer service, personal assistants, automotive voice assistants, and more. 

Essentially, a chatbot is a subset of virtual assistants that focuses on conversational interaction, while virtual assistants include a broader set of features and capabilities beyond chatbot communication.

Features of Chatbots and Virtual Assistants on Travel Platforms
Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels

Here are some tasks that chatbots and travel assistants can do:

  • Assist in booking flights, hotels, and accommodations
  • Provide real-time information on prices, availability, and promotions
  • Answer travel-related queries and offer destination recommendations
  • Streamline booking processes and handle reservation modifications
  • Deliver updates on travel itineraries
  • Offer customer support for concerns and unforeseen changes
  • Ensure a seamless communication channel for users throughout their journey
  • Contribute to simplifying and personalizing the travel experience on platforms

Implementing chatbots and virtual assistants in travel platforms is a versatile tool, offering assistance throughout the entire travel journey—from initial planning to post-trip feedback.

How AI Revolutionizing the Tourism Industry

As the tourism industry continues to evolve, the integration of AI introduces a conversational interface that allows travelers to learn about destinations, seek recommendations, and obtain real-time assistance during trip planning. In the past, preparing for a trip used to consume countless hours for the traveler. In our digital era, there is no more need for that, and AI has solved this problem.

Using AI in the tourism industry

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels

Let’s illustrate how AI has changed the booking process in the tourism industry:

  • Booking Affordable Flight Tickets

Consider a scenario where a traveler seeks to purchase flight tickets at the most reasonable price. By enlisting the assistance of an AI, the traveler can inquire about today’s flight prices, compare them with historical trends, and monitor any fluctuations. This empowers travelers to make informed decisions about when to book confidently and at the best price.

  • Hotel Selection 

Another situation is when a traveler asks an AI assistant to find a hotel in Paris for one week for a family of 3 people+2 dogs with the requirement that the location is in the city center, equipped with a pool, and pet-free. Rather than navigating through an overwhelming array of hotel descriptions, travelers can efficiently choose from a curated list generated by AI. Additionally, travelers can ask questions regarding the weather forecast, tourist attractions, etc. 

  • 24/7 Travel Assistance 

The AI assistant is available around the clock, allowing travelers to quickly resolve issues with their travel plans, saving time and avoiding long hotline waits.

Benefits of Implementating AI/ChatGPT in the Tourism Industry

More travel companies are integrating AI into their operations to provide a more intuitive and personalized experience. Booking.com, in particular, has recently incorporated the AI Trip Planner on its travel platform to enhance user interaction and deliver recommendations based on individual preferences.  

Another well-known travel company, Expedia, has launched its app powered by ChatGPT. Peter Kern, the Vice Chairman and CEO of Expedia Group, underscores the importance of this integration, stating, “Every great trip can be made or lost while planning and shopping.” By implementing ChatGPT, companies can make booking more informative and easier for travelers. This ensures that travel businesses no longer lose customers due to operational inefficiencies and workforce limitations.

Furthermore, integrating AI can significantly enhance companies’ online visibility cost-effectively. Instead of incurring expenses on hiring social media managers for content creation, businesses can seamlessly incorporate AI technology into their operations, potentially replacing traditional roles. This shift is crucial for small and medium enterprises and destination management organizations operating on limited marketing budgets. By leveraging AI in content generation, these entities can efficiently manage their online presence, ensuring a strategic and economical approach to marketing.

Drawbacks of AI in the Tourism Industry

While AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants have undeniably enhanced customer service in the tourism industry, they have notable drawbacks. For travelers lacking proficiency in technology or individuals with disabilities, these AI applications may create barriers, emphasizing the need to ensure accessibility and inclusivity for all travelers. Another drawback is that AI replaces human tasks with machines, such as chatbots, that assist customers. While this enhances efficiency, it also results in the displacement of human jobs. Achieving a balance between technological advancements and preserving the human touch in tourism is a challenge that requires careful consideration. 

Moreover, using AI in the travel industry raises valid data privacy and security concerns. AI systems gather and analyze extensive traveler data, encompassing personal details, travel habits, and preferences. This accumulation of sensitive information introduces a potential risk of data breaches or misuse. To address this concern, travel companies must prioritize robust cybersecurity measures and adopt transparent practices in handling data. By doing this, travel companies can protect their customers’ private information and build confidence in using AI in the travel industry.

AI in the Tourism Marketing 

In today’s digital era, AI is a game-changer in tourism marketing. Predicting customer behavior and preferences is crucial, and AI emerges as a vital tool for personalizing data and fostering closer connections between customers and businesses. This underscores the widespread integration of AI across various industries. For instance, in the tourism industry, it can help to analyze extensive amounts of information, identify similar travel patterns and trends, and forecast the behaviors of future travelers. For example, AI can shortly analyze data from previous years provided by the World Tourism Organization, outlining peak tourist demand for the upcoming year in a specific destination.

The utilization of  AI is essential for tourism marketers, as it aids in attracting a specific audience, interacting more effectively with visitors, and optimizing ad budgets. It is noteworthy to mention that launching a tourist product requires in-depth knowledge, and with AI tools, this becomes possible. AI tools can track online tourist activity on social media, providing tourism marketers with valuable insights into public opinions.

how to use AI in tourism marketing
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Future of AI in Tourism 

future of AI in tourism
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels

Looking ahead, there is a promising outlook for the advancement of AI in trip planning. There is a future where AI swiftly rectifies bookings during changes or cancellations and proactively identifies issues before travelers even notice them, providing proactive solutions. This heightened level of seamless integration could involve consolidating travel, accommodation, and other bookings into a single payment system. In this scenario, if a flight experiences delays, the AI would automatically adjust the airport pickup schedule and notify the hotel, all without requiring any action from the traveler. 

The momentum of AI integration is rapidly increasing, bringing us closer to a future where hotels’ virtual butlers are aware of travelers’ preferences upon entering a room, and self-driving taxi cars and shuttles become commonplace. With automated processes like check-in and bag-drop and face-recognition technology at airports such as Amsterdam and London, there’s no need to face front desk agents or customs officers directly. This outlines a future where AI not only streamlines the travel experience but also foresees and tackles potential challenges, enhancing overall efficiency and creating a more seamless journey. 

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Picture related to tourism can aid destinations in addressing climate change

According to forecasts from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the global tourism sector is anticipated to witness a substantial increase, with projections indicating a surge to 1.8 billion tourists annually by 2030. This growth underscores the pivotal role of tourism destinations in driving economic progress. However, the sector’s expansion is poised to be significantly impacted by the effects of climate change, both directly and indirectly.

This is the sunset view from the badaban ecocottage
Sunset view from Badaban EcoCottage (Photo Credit: Greater Sundarbans Ecotourism Society)

Tourism can exert a substantial influence on the environment, contributing to pollution, waste generation, and harm to local ecosystems and biodiversity. Meanwhile, climate change introduces additional challenges such as flooding, land degradation, loss of natural habitats, saltwater intrusion, diminished food resources, and heightened storm intensity. Tourism businesses can be catalysts in either exacerbating climate change-induced challenges or champions in helping communities and destinations address these threats head-on.

The pressing issue of climate change in destinations, exacerbated by escalating greenhouse gas emissions and resultant global warming, will be a defining challenge for the tourism industry over the next several decades. Consequently, the tourism sector bears a significant responsibility to champion environmental preservation and adopt sustainable practices to effectively address the challenges posed by climate change in the realm of travel and tourism.

In this blog post, we will discuss the significance of tourism in helping destinations address climate change. Specifically, we will explore tourism for climate change adaptation and mitigation, its role in decreasing carbon emissions, its impact on local economies, and its potential for promoting environmental education and awareness.

Tourism Destinations for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation

Climate change presents escalating challenges to our planet. To effectively tackle this urgent issue, it is essential to implement two critical strategies: Climate Change Mitigation and Climate Change Adaptation.

Climate change mitigation endeavors to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, where the travel and tourism sectors play a pivotal role. The most important approach involves reducing energy consumption through enhanced energy efficiency measures and the adoption of renewable energy sources. Offsetting carbon emissions via carbon offset programs can also be an important strategy and one that has grown substantially in interest and scale over the past decade. However, it is important to note the significant criticism that carbon offset programs have received, and thus such programs must also come alongside significant and meaningful reductions in emissions from the source.

Numerous tourism enterprises are actively engaging in these initiatives. In regions like the Maldives, distant travel destinations, air travel significantly contributes to the tourism industry’s carbon footprint. Attaining Net Zero emissions poses a formidable challenge due to the complexity of eliminating carbon emissions. Nevertheless, some establishments in the Maldives, like Soneva Resorts, have implemented a successful mitigation strategy that targets both direct and indirect carbon emissions. Consequently, certain resorts strive for carbon neutrality by leveraging sustainable energy resources and participating in carbon offset programs.

Climate change adaptation, on the other hand, aims to fortify the resilience of societies, economies, and ecosystems against the existing impacts of climate change. Within the travel and tourism industries, efforts are directed towards safeguarding vulnerable ecosystems and enhancing adaptability. These efforts encompass activities such as coral reef restoration, ecosystem conservation, and sustainable tourism practices.

Many tourism establishments are embracing these adaptation strategies. As an illustration, they delve into pioneering coral restoration methods, such as the initiatives undertaken by Reefscapers. This organization collaborates with resorts to execute management and restoration strategies aimed at rejuvenating marine ecosystems and enhancing the appeal of tourist destinations. Additionally, these companies are actively involved in educating and supporting local communities to raise awareness and bolster resilience against climate change effects.

It is important to note that climate change adaptation and mitigation are two sides of the same climate coin: strategies must be advanced in both in order to secure a viable and just future for humanity. The travel and tourism sector actively contributes to addressing and alleviating climate change by employing diverse strategies. These include enhancing energy efficiency, implementing nature-based solutions initiatives to both absorb carbon and address societal challenges and promoting ecosystem conservation. Collaboration among tourism enterprises, local communities, and governmental bodies is deemed crucial in fostering effective climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

* (Check Climate Change and Tourism: How Destinations Are Responding to the Climate Crisis (Part 1 & Part 2) other Solimar pages as well)

 

Contributing to the Reduction of Carbon Footprints while Preserving Nature

Climate change exerts a diverse range of impacts on various destinations, spanning from heightened occurrences of extreme weather events to shifts in natural landscapes. Prominent tourist sites are contending with unprecedented challenges, with coastal tourism proving especially susceptible to the repercussions of climate change. The imminent menace of rising sea levels poses a direct threat to coastal regions. Essentially, escalating temperatures, adverse weather patterns, and increasing sea levels are gradually eroding the essence of historical landmarks and cultural assets. Nonetheless, tourist areas can undertake diverse initiatives to curb carbon emissions while conserving the environment.

What are the various efforts being made to save nature and reduce carbon footprints?

1. Nature-based Solutions

Nature-based Solutions which is based on climate change
Nature-based Solutions (Credit: IUCN)

One first is Nature-based Solutions. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a global entity dedicated to nature conservation and sustainable natural resource management, has championed the concept of nature-based solutions. These solutions encompass actions that safeguard, sustainably manage, and restore nature while simultaneously addressing societal challenges. Nature-based solutions yield a plethora of benefits. They aid in climate change adaptation, mitigate disaster risks by offering protection against storm surges, combat coastal erosion, and even reduce insurance costs.  

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) play a key role in both mitigation and adaptation. When considering mitigation strategies, NbS offers significant potential for carbon capture and storage. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that by 2030, NbS could contribute 30-37% of the cost-effective mitigation required to limit warming to below 2°C. NbS can effectively combat the effects of climate change by sequestering and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through ecosystem preservation and restoration efforts.

When considering adaptation strategies, Natural-based Solutions (NbS) provide crucial support for enhancing resilience against climate-related risks. For instance, coastal ecosystems such as blue-green algae and coral reefs in the Maldives play a vital role in safeguarding communities against storm surges and coastal erosion, thereby mitigating the impacts of severe weather conditions. These ecosystems offer essential services that can aid in climate change adaptation.

Tourism enterprises can advance Nature-based Solutions by investing in them to reap economic benefits, enrich tourists’ experiences, address climate change risks, fulfill social obligations, and collaborate with local communities. This strategic approach not only promotes environmental preservation but also bolsters competitiveness.

Moreover, Nature-based Solutions contribute to improving air and water quality, reducing disease transmission associated with habitat loss, and nurturing educational and psychological well-being. Particularly in island locales, the adoption of natural moisture retention methods can amplify soil moisture absorption and decrease marine pathogens. By embracing them, the dual objectives of reducing carbon emissions, conserving nature, and supporting local communities are efficiently met.

In the Maldives under the USAID Climate Adaptation Project, Solimar International recently supported the Ministry of Tourism in creating the first Climate Action Plan for Tourism in the history of the country. This Action Plan outlines concrete steps for tourism businesses to both mitigate and adapt to climate change through strategies like incorporating community priorities, diversifying business revenue, and investing in NbS via innovative climate financing schemes. You can read the full Action Plan here. 

* (Read the 2022 White Paper by Solimar International on effective nature-based solutions in tourism.)

 

2.  Supporting and Diversifying Local Economies

Tourism plays a pivotal role in bolstering local economies, thereby contributing to greater economic resilience. However, tourism can also cause dependence on the industry and make destinations more vulnerable to shocks like climate change. Thus, the importance of diversifying local economies through tourism initiatives is key.  Encouraging the consumption of locally sourced goods and services can lead to tangible enhancements in local economies. This approach not only generates employment opportunities within communities but also elevates income levels, fostering sustainable development.

The Maldives is one such successful example of climate change adaptation through the integration of community needs and priorities.

This is the Islands of Horsburgh
The Islands of Horsburgh (Credit: The Horsburgh Atoll Tourism Alliance)

Based on the Maldives Tourism Climate Action Plan, the allure of the Maldives, characterized by its pristine beaches and vibrant coral reefs, faces threats from climate change. Presently, many resorts and guesthouses in the Maldives encounter challenges in sourcing local produce, often resorting to external markets for essentials like tuna or seafood. While this may seem financially prudent initially, these supply chains are susceptible to climate change-induced disruptions, leading to escalating costs over time.

However, by emphasizing community experiences and locally procured goods, the Maldives can effectively ensure local destination resilience while revitalizing its local economy. Interdependencies among food security, climate change, and biodiversity are evident in the Maldives. Local resorts in the Maldives have championed locally sourced products through initiatives like local contract farming in regions such as Addu Atoll. Collaborations like the one between Addu Atoll and the Addu Meedhoo Corporate Society have facilitated local food production. The Maldivian government has also pledged support by providing agricultural resources and requisite training to cultivate selected crops on 40 key agricultural islands.

This is the picture of the community and culture in the Maldives
Community and Culture in the Maldives (Credit: The Horsburgh Atoll Tourism Alliance)

Integrating permaculture projects can tangibly sequester carbon, leverage carbon markets, cater to hotel guests, or introduce value-added products for sale in hotel establishments or spas. These endeavors have curtailed food miles and hotel carbon emissions, conserved local culinary heritage, and agricultural customs, and created employment opportunities for marginalized groups.

Moreover, concerning fisheries in the Maldives, numerous companies have collaborated with local communities to supply proteins like fish from neighboring islands. By engaging local fishermen to establish new markets for previously exported marine products, these companies have mitigated carbon emissions, facilitated robust supply chains, and promoted sustainable fishing practices.

The tourism sector plays a pivotal role in rejuvenating local economies by nurturing enterprises and human resources while safeguarding the environment. Tourism enterprises can bolster local economies by offering employment to community members and preserving local culture and natural habitats. This concerted effort not only addresses climate change but also cultivates a sustainable tourism model, fostering the development of local communities.

 

* (Check the Maldives Tourism Climate Action Plan to find out what is being done under the USAID Climate Adaptation Project in the Maldives.) 

Promoting Environmental Education and Awareness in Tourism Destinations

Environmental education is crucial in enlightening travelers about the significance of environmental conservation and fostering a consciousness for sustainable travel practices. Tourism operators can cultivate awareness among travelers by integrating environmental education programs before or after their journeys and disseminating information on sustainable travel practices.

Fundamentally, tourism is a conduit for advancing environmental education and consciousness-raising efforts. By integrating components that educate travelers on local heritage, ecosystem preservation measures, and sustainable lifestyles, individuals can develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the global environment.

Let’s look at specific regions like the Horsburgh Atoll and the Bangladesh Sundarbans, where we witness exemplary cases of environmental stewardship and sustainable practices.

1. Horsburgh Atoll (Maldives) (Horsburgh Atoll Tourism Alliance)

This picture is about Horsburgh Atoll
Horsburgh Atoll (Credit: The Horsburgh Atoll Tourism Alliance)

The Horsburgh Atoll, nestled in the Maldives, represents a treasure trove combining natural splendor and historical significance. With a unique ecosystem and historical heritage, the atoll is safeguarded and nurtured through environmental education initiatives. Emphasizing sustainable tourism, Horsburgh ensures the conservation of the atoll’s beauty while promoting eco-friendly tourism activities and fostering awareness of sustainable practices within marine protected areas. Furthermore, visitors can engage with local communities, delving into their distinct traditions and craftsmanship, such as intricate woven mats, wood carvings, and traditional Maldivian lacquerworks. These immersive experiences not only enhance cultural understanding but also underscore the interconnectedness and vitality of ecosystems.

Under the USAID Climate Adaptation Project, Solimar has supported the creation of the first Destination Management Organization (DMO) in the Maldives: The Horsburgh Atoll Tourism Alliance (HATA). HATA is a dedicated group of local tourism stakeholders committed to ensuring that tourism in the Horsburgh Atoll contributes positively to community benefits, environmental awareness, and climate adaptation. United by a shared vision, HATA brings together local businesses, conservationists, and community leaders to promote sustainable tourism practices that protect the atoll’s unique ecosystem while enhancing the livelihoods of its inhabitants. By enabling local communities to manage tourism on their terms and ensuring tourism is a force for the environmental education of future visitors, this model ensures that locally relevant solutions can be designed and funded to support climate adaptation efforts. 

* (Check Maldives’ first DMO, The Horsburgh Atoll Tourism Alliance to discover the enchanting Horsburgh Atoll in the Maldives)

2. Bangladesh Sundarbans (Greater Sundarbans EcoTourism Society)

This picture is discovering the Sundarban forests
Discovering the Sundarbans (Credit: Greater Sundarbans EcoTourism Society)

The Sundarbans region prioritizes alternative income sources to forest resource harvesting and ecosystem restoration endeavors. Exploring the forest, engaging with the local communities, and partaking in guided nature tours like forest hikes and boat trips are more popular among the activities available, all while lodging in environmentally-conscious accommodations. Through active participation in ecosystem revitalization projects, like planting native mangrove saplings, tourists directly contribute to enhancing the local ecosystem and partake in activities with positive impacts. Environmental education and awareness are fostered through immersive nature and cultural expeditions, providing interpretive knowledge on herbal plants, wildlife, and forest traditions during guided forest treks. Cultural walking tours enable visitors to explore local landmarks, temples, and cultural performances, including traditional dances and songs, thereby immersing them in the rich tapestry of Bangladesh’s coastal culture. 

The Munda people, an ethnic community inhabiting the Sundarbans mangrove forest region, maintain a profound bond with their natural surroundings and cultural legacy. Despite such virtues, this community faces obstacles such as restricted access to microfinance, benefits, and jobs, impeding their ability to adapt. In coastal Bangladesh, grappling with the effects of climate change, they encounter difficulties obtaining resources and livelihood opportunities. These challenges are often intensified during disasters such as cyclones, tidal surges, etc., that reduce agricultural and other production. Additionally, initiatives to aid them encounter financial limitations, impacting their capacity to maintain their livelihoods and access government support.

However, by engaging with this community, opportunities exist to introduce educational initiatives, and resource and capacity development projects that can facilitate community advancement. Moreover, endorsing sustainable business practices that capitalize on their distinctive local ecological knowledge, expertise, and traditions, along with partaking in Munda festivals and cultural gatherings, can bolster appreciation for their ethos and heritage. This approach nurtures mutual respect, opens avenues for their seamless integration within the broader local community, and reduces racial gaps. Consequently, visitors will be able to discover a cottage managed by the Munda community and learn about The Greater Sundarbans EcoTourism Society’s contribution to branding these cottages. This initiative aims to provide tourists with a genuine indigenous experience, promoting a better understanding of the interconnected relationship between local communities and their surroundings.

In tackling the challenges posed by climate change, the tourism sector can significantly contribute by empowering marginalized groups who often encounter social marginalization. By involving these communities, they can secure livelihoods and actively participate in climate resilience endeavors, thus improving their living standard. The pivotal role of the Greater Sundarbans region in supporting these endeavors cannot be understated.

* (Check out the Bangladesh Ecotourism and Conservation Alliance website  to discover more about the USAID Ecotourism Activity project in and around the Sundarbans Reserved Forest through the development, management, and marketing of sustainable tourism)

This picuture is the Sundarban Tiger in the forest.
The Sundarban Tiger (Photo Credit: Vignesh, Pexels)

Underscoring the significance of sustainable development through environmental education is imperative to strike a harmonious balance between local economic progress and environmental conservation. These initiatives play a pivotal role in fostering the sustainable growth of local communities and offering travelers a glimpse into the region’s distinctive culture and natural allure. By championing climate change awareness, preserving indigenous ecosystems and cultures, and providing immersive encounters, these endeavors significantly enrich the travel experience. 

 

 

This picture is the Badaban EcoCottages
Badaban EcoCottages (Photo Credit: Greater Sundarbans EcoTourism Society)

Another example of how locally relevant solutions can empower climate change mitigation and adaptation is the Sundarbans EcoVillages situated in the Sundarbans region of Bangladesh. The Sundarbans EcoVillages comprise multiple villages or communities rather than a singular location. This initiative revolves around community-based tourism, empowering residents to generate diverse sources of income from tourism activities instead of depending on unsustainable resource extraction from the Sundarbans for their livelihoods. By establishing eco-tourism initiatives rooted in community values, the region has transformed into a destination encouraging community involvement, enabling visitors to deeply engage with the Sundarbans’ ecological and cultural marvels for extended durations.

Moreover, the communities serve as a hub for unique encounters, educational interactions, and cultural immersion, fostering a profound bond between the community and the natural environment. This community-based tourism concept actively promotes rural advancement and biodiversity conservation, offering guests various programs to rejuvenate the ecosystem. For instance, visitors can aid in ecosystem conservation by purchasing local artworks or engaging in a tree-planting initiative to cultivate mangroves around the EcoVillages.

These endeavors not only empower travelers to diminish their carbon footprint but also yield a positive impact in combating climate change, including mitigating global warming.

 

Conclusion: The Crucial Role of Tourism in Combating Climate Change

This picture is the Spotted deer in Sundarbans national park in Bangladesh
Spotted deer in the Sundarbans (Photo Credit: nicolasdecorte, istock)

In conclusion, the tourism sector holds significant potential in the fight against climate change. By emphasizing sustainable travel, reducing carbon footprints, backing local economies, and fostering environmental awareness, tourism enterprises actively contribute to environmental protection and climate change mitigation.

Also, tourism plays a pivotal role in climate change mitigation by bolstering local economies, preserving ecosystems, advocating environmental education, and endorsing sustainable tourism practices. The tourism industry can effectively combat climate change by championing positive environmental impacts while fostering community and environmental well-being.

Nonetheless, the sustainable future of tourism hinges on a collaborative effort between travelers and industry stakeholders. By opting for eco-friendly accommodations, embracing low-impact transportation, and making sustainable travel decisions, individuals can aid in building resilient destinations. Prioritizing community welfare and minimizing carbon emissions are crucial to achieving sustainable development goals.

The dynamic tourism landscape necessitates a transition towards responsible and environmentally conscious travel practices. Embracing sustainability, fortifying destination resilience, and enriching traveler education are key elements in safeguarding the future of the tourism sector. Today’s decisions will shape tomorrow’s travel experiences as we confront the challenges of climate change.

By comprehending the intricate interplay between climate change and tourism, we envision a future where exploration and conservation coexist, fostering widespread appreciation for the Earth’s natural wonders. 

We must all work together to protect the future of our planet.

benefits of sustainable certification in the tourism industry

Sustainable Tourism Certification: Steps and Benefits

In this modern era, where responsible travel is becoming more popular, the way we travel is changing significantly. Travelers are increasingly looking for authentic experiences that not only satisfy their desire to explore but also have a positive impact on the places they visit. This shift in traveler behavior is closely linked to the growing awareness of global environmental and social issues.  Explore the role of sustainable tourism certifications.

What Are the Key Modern Travel Trends in the Evolving Tourism Landscape?

According to the research of Expedia Group Media Solutions, today’s travelers are making increasingly mindful choices, with 90% actively seeking sustainable options when they embark on their journeys. These conscientous decisions encompass visiting local cultural or historical sites (46%), opting for environmentally friendly transportation options (43%), and venturing into smaller, lesser-known destinations (41%). Notably, travelers are willing to go the extra mile for sustainability, with over half expressing a readiness to pay more for sustainable transportation, activities, or lodging.

This growing interest in sustainable travel leads us to the concept of sustainable certifications. As travelers become more conscientious about their impact on the environment and local communities, they seek businesses and destinations that hold recognized sustainability certifications, which serve as indicators of a business’s dedication to environmental stewardship, community involvement, and ethical conduct, offering travelers the confidence that their choices align harmoniously with their personal values.

Community Engagement, Ethical Practices, Sustainable Management.
Choosing sustainable tourism companies is a way to be a responsible traveler (Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyanto)

What Does Sustainable Certification Mean in the Context of Responsible Tourism?

The essence of sustainable certification lies in a commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. Obtaining such certification necessitates adherence to well-defined standards and requirements that comprehensively cover aspects of environmental, social, and economic sustainability. This process is carried out by a reputable third-party organization recognized for its credibility in assessing and certifying sustainability practices within the tourism industry.

What Are the Essential Criteria for Achieving Sustainable Certification in the Tourism Industry?

The specific criteria for sustainable certification can vary widely depending on the organization or body that administers the program. However, common areas of focus for sustainable tourism certifications often include:

  • Environmental Conservation: Ensuring that businesses or destinations minimize their negative impact on the environment, including efforts to reduce energy consumption, manage waste responsibly, and protect natural resources.
  • Social Responsibility: Promoting ethical practices, fair labor conditions, respect for local cultures and communities, and engagement with and support for the well-being of local residents.
  • Economic Sustainability: Encouraging economic benefits for local communities, including job creation, support for local businesses, and contributions to the local economy.
  • Cultural Preservation: Promoting the preservation and celebration of cultural heritage, traditions, and practices within the destination.
  • Sustainable Management: Encouraging responsible management and planning of tourism activities to ensure long-term sustainability.
  • Consumer Education: Providing travelers with information and guidance on sustainable practices and responsible tourism choices.
 Certification Bodies, Environmental Conservation. Tourism certifications. Leading sustainable tourism orgaizations.
Top 10 leading organizations providing sustainable tourism certifications (Photo Credit: Tara Winstead)

These criteria are designed to be straightforward guidelines that consider what we’ve learned over time about how to protect the environment, support local communities, and make tourism more responsible. They provide a clear roadmap for businesses and destinations to follow in order to be more eco-friendly and socially responsible in the world of travel.

Exploring the Leading Organizations Offering Sustainable Certification in the Tourism Sector

Many different organizations offer sustainable certifications to interested parties. They create their own certification rules and focus on specific types of businesses. This process can take a while and can be costly because they need to make sure the standards match the unique needs of each group they’re certifying.The list below features the leading certification bodies in the tourism space:

  1. Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC): GSTC is a global organization that has developed criteria for sustainable tourism. They offer GSTC-recognized standards and certification programs for accommodations, tour operators, and destinations.
  2. Rainforest Alliance: Rainforest Alliance has established criteria for sustainable tourism certification, with a focus on conserving biodiversity, promoting community well-being, and reducing environmental impacts.
  3. EarthCheck: EarthCheck provides criteria and certification for environmental and sustainability performance in the tourism industry, helping businesses and destinations measure and improve their sustainability efforts.
  4. Green Key: Green Key offers criteria for certification of eco-friendly accommodation and restaurants, focusing on environmental management and responsible business practices.
  5. Travelife: Travelife provides criteria for sustainable practices in tour operators, travel agencies, and accommodations, covering environmental, social, and economic aspects.
  6. Fair Trade Tourism: Fair Trade Tourism has established criteria for ethical and responsible tourism, focusing on fair wages, community engagement, and cultural preservation.
  7. Biosphere Tourism: Biosphere Tourism offers criteria for sustainable tourism certifications, emphasizing sustainability in the tourism industry’s various sectors.
  8. QualityCoast: QualityCoast provides criteria for coastal and marine tourism destinations, focusing on environmental and cultural sustainability along coastal areas.
  9. TourCert: TourCert offers criteria and certification for sustainability in the tourism sector, promoting ethical business practices and social responsibility.
  10. Fair Trade Federation: While primarily focused on fair trade, the Fair Trade Federation also offers criteria related to ethical and sustainable practices within the tourism industry.

Who Qualifies for Sustainable Certification in the Diverse Tourism Industry?

Sustainable Certifications, Sustainable Travel Trends, Responsible Tourism. Tourism entities.
Tourism entities meeting sustainability certification criteria and standards (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

Sustainability certification in tourism can be awarded to a wide range of entities involved in the tourism industry. This includes accommodation such as hotels, resorts, and lodges, as well as tour operators, travel agencies, transportation providers (like airlines or car rental companies), and even destinations themselves. Essentially, any entity within the tourism sector that meets the specific criteria and standards set by a recognized certification body can be a recipient of sustainability certification. 

As we have mentioned, certification bodies often tailor their criteria to specific target groups. For example, Green Key primarily focuses on certifying eco-friendly accommodations and restaurants, while Travelife extends its certification standards to cover tour operators, travel agencies, and accommodations. The mentioned approach ensures that sustainability standards are precisely adapted to meet the unique needs and priorities of various sectors within the tourism industry.

What are the benefits of the Sustainability Certification in the Tourism Industry?

Sustainable certification plays a pivotal role in benefiting organizations or destinations within the tourism sector in several ways. The potential advantages are distributed among the company, communities, nature, and travelers. These benefits are outlined below.

  1. Environmental Conservation: Certification encourages businesses to adopt eco-friendly practices, such as energy efficiency, waste reduction, and wildlife protection, contributing to preserving natural resources and biodiversity.
  2. Community Engagement: Businesses with sustainability certifications often prioritize local communities by creating job opportunities, supporting local economies, and involving residents in tourism-related activities.
  3. Ethical Practices: Certifications promote ethical conduct by encouraging businesses to respect human rights, support fair labor practices, and engage in responsible supply chain management.
  4. Consumer Trust: Certifications provide travelers with confidence that they are supporting responsible tourism, leading to increased trust in businesses and destinations displaying these credentials
  5. Market Competitiveness: Certified businesses gain a competitive edge in the market, as they appeal to a growing segment of travelers who prioritize sustainability.
  6. Cost Savings: Sustainable practices often lead to cost savings through reduced energy consumption, waste management, and improved efficiency.
  7. Positive Brand Image: Businesses with sustainability certifications build a positive brand image associated with responsible and ethical tourism.
  8. Regulatory Compliance: Certifications help businesses meet and exceed environmental and social regulations, reducing the risk of legal issues.
  9. Long-Term Viability: Sustainable practices, encouraged by certifications, enhance the long-term viability of tourism destinations by preserving natural and cultural assets.
  10. Global Recognition: Many sustainability certifications are internationally recognized, allowing businesses and destinations to attract a diverse range of travelers worldwide.

These benefits not only contribute to the overall sustainability of the tourism industry but also resonate with travelers who seek responsible and mindful travel experiences. They can make more informed choices, ensuring that their travel aligns with ethical and environmentally friendly values. This enables them to enjoy travel experiences that positively impact the destinations they visit, fostering a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

How to Begin the Sustainability Certification Process?

 Sustainable Management, Tourism Industry, Sustainable Tourism Initiatives, Community Engagement, Ethical Practices.
Discover the process of obtaining sustainable tourism certifications (Photo Credit: Handmrts)

Initiating the sustainable certification process begins with readiness, a willingness to engage in a long-term commitment, and envisioning a clear future for the organization within the tourism industry. The steps can follow a structured and coherent sequence.

Step 1: Conduct thorough market research to identify a certification body that aligns perfectly with your organization’s needs and interests. For instance, if you are a travel agency, seek a certification body with well-developed sustainability criteria tailored specifically for travel agencies or tour operators.

Step 2: Initiate contact with the chosen certification body. Typically, they assign a dedicated representative who is keen on expanding their community. Often, they offer a 30-minute informative online meeting introducing certification criteria, duration, pricing, potential benefits, acknowledgments, and more.

Step 3: Many certification bodies provide a coaching system. As a beginner organization, you’ll have a personal coach who guides you through the steps. They’ll assist in baseline assessment, creating a sustainability policy, action plan, and other essential documents. The certification process often occurs online or through specific forms that need to be completed.

Step 4: Upon successfully completing all the required tasks and taking responsibility for future agreed-upon actions, your company will receive the certification and a badge that can be proudly displayed online.

Step 5: This step is an ongoing process that involves continually working on sustainable initiatives, integrating sustainability guidelines into your company’s operations or the life of the destination, and monitoring progress.

Step 6: After achieving initial certification, consider exploring advanced levels or additional certifications within the sustainability framework to further enhance your commitment and impact.

Step 7: Maintain a strong relationship with the certification body. Engage in regular updates, workshops, and collaborative efforts to stay informed about the latest sustainability trends and practices.

Step 8: Share your sustainability journey and successes with your customers, partners, and the wider community to inspire others and create a ripple effect of positive change in the tourism industry.

What occurs after the completion of sustainable certification?

Typically, after receiving sustainable certification, awarded companies or destinations embark on an active marketing campaign aimed at disseminating their achievements and alignment with sustainability criteria to as many people as possible. In a best-case scenario, this effort attracts the interest of responsible travelers, leads to numerous partnership proposals, and contributes to an overall enhancement of the organization or destination’s reputation.

Summing up the Impact of Sustainable Certification in Tourism

In conclusion, sustainable tourism certification is a pivotal tool in the modern travel landscape. Travelers increasingly prioritize responsible and mindful experiences, while businesses and destinations strive to meet these expectations. Sustainable certification bridges this gap, providing a clear path toward eco-friendly, socially responsible, and economically sustainable practices. It benefits not only organizations but also communities, nature, and travelers alike. Embracing sustainability in tourism not only safeguards our planet but also ensures that travel remains a force for good, leaving positive footprints on the places we explore.

Do you represent the destination of a tourism organization interested in being certified as sustainable? Solimar can help you to choose a certification program that suits your future sustainability goals. Contact us to learn more.

What is greenwashing?

What does greenwashing mean? 

Consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental and social impacts of the businesses they support. This trend is on the rise across industries, and travel is no exception. According to American Express’ 2023 Global Travel Trends Report, 76% of respondents are interested in minimizing the environmental impact of their trips, and 69% would spend more during a vacation if they knew it supported the local community. While this is a positive and promising trend, it can also incentivize businesses to design their marketing in a way that appeals to this key demographic without necessarily aligning their operations. 

Greenwashing definition: At its core, greenwashing is all about misdirection. It occurs when businesses apply a “green sheen” to their services with language they know will satisfy search engines and appeal to conscientious consumers without actually doing the work to drive positive environmental or social outcomes. 

Greenwashing example: A DMO uses vague or ambiguous language like “eco-friendly” or “sustainable” without clarifying what those terms actually mean in the context of the services it provides and the destination it serves.

Greenwashing can also show up in the imagery a business uses in its marketing materials. Photos and graphics play an important role in sustainability messaging and can misleading consumers if they don’t align closely with the claims being made. 

Greenwashing example: A hotel relies on non-renewable energy sources for heating and cooling but includes a photo of solar panels on its website to convey a more sustainable approach to energy fulfillment. 

How to identify genuine sustainable tourism practices 

It’s one thing to understand how to avoid greenwashing in travel, and another to understand how you can break through the noise to identify meaningful sustainable tourism practices to celebrate the companies, brands, and destinations that are deploying them. Asking the following three questions can help gauge whether an organization is culpable of greenwashing or implementing tourism practices that genuinely preserve natural and cultural resources. 

1. Are sustainability goals material to the organization’s operations and supported by a clear roadmap? 

When seeking out genuine sustainable tourism practices, you can start by looking for an environmental policy and a commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion (bonus points if the organization has set measurable goals for carbon reduction, biodiversity, or conservation). It’s worth noting that while these policies are crucial, the process of implementing them can be time and resource-intensive, particularly for small businesses. 

Additional signs that an organization is on the right track in its sustainability journey include commitments toward: 

  • Localizing its supply chain (i.e., sourcing local food and beverages) 
  • Eliminating single-use plastics (think key cards and toiletries)
  • Using renewable energy sources
  • Managing waste and water efficiently
  • Employing locals and outlining a progressive path for career development 
  • Advocating for animal and child welfare
Supporting sustainable agriculture and local farmers in Vietnam
Learning about and choosing locally-sourced foods can be a fun and effective way to reinforce sustainable tourism practices and support local farmers (Photo Credit: Laura Rankin)

Learning about and choosing locally sourced foods can be a fun and effective way to reinforce sustainable tourism practices and support local farmers.

If these types of commitments aren’t readily available via a company’s public-facing channels, don’t be afraid to respectfully ask about sustainability standards and the steps being taken to drive positive social and environmental action before, during, and after your trip. 

Some examples of the types of questions you can ask to better understand a company’s commitment to sustainability include: 

  • Are you taking steps to measure and reduce your carbon footprint? 
  • How do you manage food waste? 
  • Do you monitor and control energy use, especially heat and air conditioning? 
  • Do you reinvest profits back to serve the local community?
  • What are your key sustainability metrics? 
  • What are your sustainability goals for the future?  

Becoming carbon neutral by 2030 is an admirable goal, but it doesn’t really mean anything without a clear roadmap that details the strategies and metrics involved in achieving it. Genuine sustainability commitments require a detailed action plan as well as public-facing information on any progress made to date. 

Key takeaway:

Companies with genuine sustainable tourism practices go beyond talking the talk to walk the walk. Their marketing is in lockstep with their operations, and this is evident in the clear roadmaps they’ve laid out to achieve their sustainability goals. 

2. Are sustainability claims transparent and backed by data? 

Sustainability claims should be backed by concrete data whenever possible, and this quantitative information should be presented in a way that’s transparent and publicly available. Combining specific figures and evidence with written communications and marketing materials such as links, infographics, and statistics adds depth and credibility to messaging. 

Example: Rather than claiming to be “carbon friendly” and calling it a day, a tour operator ought to support the claim with data on emissions reduction over time in a way that is digestible and helps consumers understand the true impact behind the efforts being taken. 

Further, engaging expert auditors to validate sustainability data and reports can fortify credibility and demonstrate a commitment to integrity and transparency. Given the rise of greenwashing in an already saturated tourism market, it’s more important than ever to establish accountability and trust between companies and consumers. 

Key takeaway:

A vital step to avoid greenwashing is to ensure sustainability claims are backed by trustworthy and transparent data. This data must go beyond the individual organization to consider the entire value chain. 

3. Are sustainability claims reinforced by credible third-party certifications and standards? 

Established third-party certifications and standards that are backed by rigorous assessments and criteria can help to bolster the credibility of an organization’s sustainability claims. 

A few examples of credible sustainable tourism certifications and frameworks are: 

  • Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC): The world’s leading accreditation platform for sustainable travel companies
  • B Corp: Provides third-party validation of a company’s practices around social, ethical, and environmental impact and aggregates it into one overall score determined by the size and scale of its operations
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 17 interconnected goals established by the UN to transform the world by promoting prosperity while protecting the planet, reflecting the notion that ending global poverty requires a multifaceted approach
  • Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi): Drives ambitious climate action in the private sector by enabling organizations to set science-based emissions reduction targets and a clearly-defined path to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals

There are plenty of sustainability certifications and standards that exist on global, national, and regional levels. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know how to start navigating this space, you can begin by identifying what’s important to you. 

Example: If you’re passionate about ocean conservation, you can search for destinations and experiences that align with SDG 14: Life Below Water. 

View overlooking the Gulf of Thailand
Scuba diving is one example of a popular activity that provides travelers the opportunity to support businesses that are making strides to conserve and regenerate marine environments (Photo Credit: Laura Rankin)

Scuba diving is one example of a popular activity that provides travelers the opportunity to support businesses that are making strides to conserve and regenerate marine environments. 

It’s important to note that while certifications can help build trust between brands and consumers, they have their limitations and are certainly not an end-all. Certifications can be rigorous and expensive, and it’s important to consider whether an organization has the means to meet third-party standards. In some cases, a small business may be operating sustainably, but lack the capital required to secure certification. 

Key takeaway:

Certification can provide a framework for sustainable practices and a benchmarking tool for tourism businesses. However, it also requires significant investment, limits innovation, and is just one piece of the whole sustainability puzzle. 

Sustainable Tourism
Choosing organizations that are working to drive positive impact and being transparent about their journeys is voting for a regenerative tourism future (Photo Credit: Kyle Cleveland)

Support sustainable practices to influence the future of tourism 

Choosing brands, tour operators, and destinations that are working to drive positive impact for people and the planet and being transparent about their sustainability journeys is voting for a more regenerative tourism future.

When it comes to sustainable tourism, it’s important to stay curious, look at the whole picture, and understand that there’s no silver bullet solution. At the end of the day, it’s essential that brands, companies, and destinations are transparent about their hopes and plans – even if they’re just beginning their sustainability journeys. 

Traveling should be joyful, and it should also remind us that our planet is beautiful, delicate, and interconnected. Looking to credible sources, executing due diligence, and asking respectful questions can help you spot genuine sustainable tourism practices and contribute to the co-creation of a regenerative tourism future. 

Want to learn more about tourism for sustainable development? Get in touch, and be sure to follow along with us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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