Tag: sustainable travel

How Tourism can make Communities More Climate Resilient icebergs are at risk of melting

Climate change is not a future projection anymore. It belongs to the present, and tourism can be part of the solution. Learn about how tourism can make communities more climate resilient.

How Tourism can make Communities More Climate Resilient icebergs are at risk of melting

Rising sea levels, floods, biodiversity loss, tropical storms, and droughts are extreme weather events the world is experiencing nearly every day. Earth’s climate is undeniably changing and putting communities around the world at high risk. The past decade set a tragic record of being the warmest measured, and the average temperature increased by 1.2 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. The effects of this change are becoming more visible as glaciers are melting causing sea levels to increase and natural catastrophes to take place more frequently. Although more efforts and investments are being done to decarbonize, global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase over the past few years, requiring more drastic and urgent actions for nations to become climate resilient. However, tourism can make communities more climate resilient

The effects of the changing climate can be observed worldwide, including in many popular tourism destinations. Some examples are Caribbean islands are increasingly in danger because of higher sea levels and tropical storms, horrible droughts in Africa are intensifying, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is losing its precious coral reefs thus risking its status as a UNESCO World Heritage SIte. 

The tourism industry depends on the quality of clear beaches, cities and nature to attract visitors. The tourism industry is at high risk from climate change. Unfortunately, the countries that are most dependent on tourism as a means for economic development are facing the greatest threats and challenges, with Small Island Development States (SIDS) being one of the most endangered regions.  

Nevertheless, the relationship between tourism and climate change is complex. Research shows tourism is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, mostly due to transportation. With the massive growth in tourism arrivals, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasing long-distance trips, this development has persisted and is expected to increase even further. Thus, tourism is at risk due to the changing climate, but also contributes to the negative impacts on the environment, natural habitats and biodiversity. 

The communities dependent on tourism incomes conversely need the money for their survival while living with the negative impacts caused by the tourism industry. Thus, with climate change worsening, the need to become more climate resilient must be the ultimate goal for destinations to secure their precious environment and communities’ livelihood for the future. 

How tourism can make communities more climate resilient

The tourism sector has immense potential to be a role model in carrying out climate resilient initiatives. Fortunately, tourism is more than a mere industry – it is a dense network of interrelated stakeholders always open to collaborating to solve complex issues, such as climate change. By joining together and working side-by-side, tourism actors can mitigate their environmental footprints and help local communities and their respective natural areas. Ultimately, performing sustainable practices and spreading responsible knowledge will not only safeguard biodiversity, regulate the climate, and ensure life on Earth, but will also help communities – shaping them to be more climate resilient.

At Solimar International, we have always acknowledged that, when done properly, tourism can be a force for good. Sustainable tourism contributes to economically sustainable growth, while also sharing knowledge to empower communities and preserve their natural resources. After all, by striving to improve the destination and bringing it closer to its pure and untouched state, our conception of tourism goes beyond “sustainability” i.e. merely keeping the status quo. At Solimar, we are moving towards the regenerative tourism movement, recognizing that tourism should adopt an active role in making destinations better than they were found. Undeniably, climate change must be tackled now if we wish to guarantee the continuance of the tourism sector, attain the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030, and replenish the Earth.

How can tourism stakeholders increase climate change resilience? 

Integrating climate resilient initiatives into development strategies is necessary to prepare destinations and communities to brace for future disasters and climate change. There are plenty of ways to regenerate destinations, from investments for innovation and research, to design and planning. The World Bank Resilient Tourism Framework is a great guiding method to do so, illustrating five steps to build effective industry resilience.

 

Source: World Bank. 2020. Resilient Tourism: Competitiveness in the Face of Disasters. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Source: World Bank. 2020. Resilient Tourism: Competitiveness in the Face of Disasters. Washington, DC: World Bank.

More specifically, there are numerous industry-led and destination management examples of measures that prove that many in our sector have already been doing great work. Here are examples of regenerative tourism actions, which any tourism stakeholder can take inspiration:

1. Coral reconstruction and mangrove restoration efforts to regenerative destinations

These actions, as well as beach and oceans clean-up actions, are perfect examples of how the lodging sector, tour operators, DMOs, and local businesses can increase the protection of natural resources through conservation initiatives. Coral reefs and mangroves form part of our biodiversity, attract tourists, and most importantly, protect us against waves and storm surges. Check out how the Hilton Hotel is working towards environmental sustainability in Seychelles here.

How can tourism make communities more climate resilient? Source: Coral Restoration Foundation. Coral Reconstruction initiatives.
Source- Coral Restoration Foundation. Coral Reconstruction initiatives.

2. Investing in more resistant materials or shifting to more inland construction

Recent hurricanes in the Caribbean have demonstrated how higher sea levels and storms are increasingly threatening these delicate island ecosystems. Instead of building and designing the usual seaside infrastructures, it is time to rethink the business models and take into consideration damaging hazards and sea-level rise.

Source: Johnny Milano, The New York Times. The ‘Sand Palace’ in Mexico Beach, FL.
Source: Johnny Milano, The New York Times. The ‘Sand Palace’ in Mexico Beach, FL.

3. Decarbonize to level zero

Tourism must decarbonize to level zero to meet pledges made in the Paris Agreement, and reducing carbon emissions needs to become a strategic priority in the whole sector. With increasing technological advances and social innovation, alternative energy-efficient systems have become a reality and integrated into ecotourism and reduce ecological footprint.  The Future of Tourism Coalition has recently held an interesting webinar about preparing a climate action plan and measuring your carbon footprints.

4. Local sourcing, local sourcing, local sourcing.

Thinking local is key to increasing climate resilience. Not only tourists will find more authenticity in their experiences, but communities will also be brought to the forefront through the supply chain of any business (food, workers, products, traditions, and heritage). Moreover, this inevitably reduces carbon footprint and gives more opportunities to embrace the sustainable circle economy, provide support, training, and education.

5. Eliminate seasonality dependence

As tourism jobs are usually low-paid, efforts to get rid of seasonality dependence is one example to sustain the economy and empower the communities by providing long-lasting jobs instead of the usual limited seasonal contracts.

Do not forget that tourism would not exist without the extremely rich biodiversity we live in and depend upon. Climate change is everyone’s problem – and tourism can also be part of the solution. 

Solimar International has led several similar projects that are designed to help tourism businesses and institutions lower their environmental footprints and meet sustainability standards. In the project of the Sustainable Island Platform our goal is supporting innovative development for island territories with a focus on the blue economy and circular economy. Making those threatened communities less vulnerable to climate change is the aim that we follow while increasing the visibility of innovative business strategies that can help communities secure their livelihoods. If you think your business or destination also needs such support, contact us to find out how our expert team can help you.

The Sustainable Island Platform project
The Sustainable Island Platform project

Written by Lena Eckert and Amélie Keller

local fresh vegetable market indonesia community tourism ethical travel

As more destinations continue to open up for tourism, it is time to redefine ethical travel

After a long, chaotic year and a half of uncertainty, travelers have started to go on vacations and plan trips to get out of their home offices and enjoy something new. With domestic tourism numbers expected to reach record highs worldwide, there is a real concern about negative environmental and social impacts of tourism. The ethical travel question has never been more timely.

Exhaustion of local natural resources, water pollution, and general overconsumption are just some of the potential consequences of tourism’s renewal that destinations face. This puts extra pressure on local communities, especially in regions where resources are already scarce. Increased tourism also concerns the environment, as it affects biodiversity and various natural attributes of a destination, and at times even causes the loss of natural habitats. 

Sustainable tourism and regenerative tourism practices can be the way forward for ethical travelers. These concepts aim to achieve a balance between humans, nature, and the environment, to reduce tourism’s environmental impacts and harness its economic benefits in an egalitarian way. Focusing on reducing the negative impacts of tourism and building resilient surroundings can lead to having positive impacts for the local communities, celebrating cultures, conserving natural heritage, and cherishing ecosystems.

Here are 10 travel tips of how you can contribute to the sustainable development of tourism and travel responsibly:

  1. Ethical Travel Means Staying & Eating Locally

You probably go on vacations to get away from the usual surroundings and explore new destinations, cultures, people and create new memories. What better way is there than to fully immerse in a local lifestyle and travel locally? 

To do that, choose locally managed accommodations and restaurants. Staying at smaller and eco friendly hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and family houses managed by the local people is an amazing way to support local economies. Another reason for choosing smaller accommodations is that emissions from big hotels are usually highest in the big resorts and luxury hotels while smaller lodgings manage to save energy and be more sustainable.

Choosing local restaurants and cafes over big chain restaurants is also a wonderful way to gain a local experience while ensuring that the money you spend goes directly to the community. This will eventually support job creation and generate income for local community members. 

Solimar International is a huge advocate of responsible community-based tourism and sustainable travel. CBT practices also extend beyond the destination community. Visitor experience and community member well-being are equal parts of the sustainable development of the destination. 

  1. Shop Locally to Support Artisans, Artists, Farmers, and More!

The next thing you can do is go to local food markets, small clothing shops, purchase souvenirs from vendors and buy products that are produced locally. This will support the community and give you a chance to buy something unique to this place. Going to local markets is also a wonderful way to explore the culture, meet the people living in the area, and have a better sense of life in the destination.

local women explore fish market

Copyright: Tbel Abuselidze

  1. Choose ‘Slow Travel’ 

There are only so many times travelers go to the same destinations, so people try to pack as many things in the itinerary as possible. This usually results in rushing from one place to another, aiming to simply tick off boxes on the bucket list. This is unethical travel.

Instead, what you might do is slow down and experience the destination, opting for one longer vacation instead of taking multiple shorter trips. Immerse yourself in the destination, enjoy the green spaces, take your time with culture and community, build deeper connections, and explore the destination’s uniqueness. This will reduce the pressure from top tourist attractions, help the local economy, benefit small businesses and help reduce your carbon footprint (especially regarding air travel!). Ethical travel is synonymous with slow travel.  

  1. Participate in Local Activities and Festivals to Engage with the Local Community

There is no better way for an ethical traveler to explore a destination than to spend time with the local community. This helps you understand the culture, traditions, and history on the deepest level while also helping support the local economy and development. Join local cooking classes, buy locally produced hand-crafted souvenirs, attend local festivals, spend the day with people, stroll around the cities, and check out small coffee houses and lesser-known museums. Trust us, you will be amazed by such a travel experience!
community tourism breadmaking

  1. Opt-in to Reusing Hotel Towels and Sheets

More and more hotels try to lessen their carbon footprint by integrating more sustainable ways into their business processes through utilizing clean energy, introducing food waste management systems, recycling, and building local supply chains. However, water and energy use is still quite significant. 

As a traveler, you can save energy and resources like water and electricity by passing on daily washing of sheets and towels. You can also save some energy by turning off the lights, TV, and other electronics when not needed, turning off the AC when leaving the hotel room, and taking shorter showers. 

  1. Be considerate about your food and water consumption

Some destinations suffer from scarce resources more than others. This is why it is so important to be mindful of your food and water consumption during your travels. 

Large resorts in developing countries habitually use enormous amounts of water and food to satisfy the needs of their guests. This creates a shortage for the local community, as well as increased prices on the materials. For example, one average golf course in a tropical country uses around the same amount of water as 60,000 rural villagers. Terrible, right?

Additionally, try to keep food and water from being wasted. Food production from the farm to the table requires huge energy and contributes to your carbon footprint. It is said that food production is responsible for around one-quarter of the carbon emissions in the world. When this food is wasted, all the efforts and negative impacts on our environment are lost for nothing and create further problems for landfills. Fresh water and food are scarce resources – being aware of our consumption can help foster a more sustainable world.

  1. Eat less (red) meat

Evidence shows that moving towards a more plant-based diet is healthier. The water footprint, water pollution, water scarcity, and GHG emissions are all the results of livestock production. Agriculture overexploits resources that result in loss of biodiversity and natural habitat, and is a significant contributor to climate change. 

Choosing to switch to a more plant-based diet, sustainably caught fish, and non-red meat can be a far better option. It can also give you a chance to taste different varieties of meat, unique vegetarian or vegan alternatives, and enjoy your environmentally-friendly meal during your travels. 

local fresh vegetable market indonesia community tourism

Copyright: Alex Hudson

  1. Say No to Plastic 

It is common knowledge that plastic use is damaging our environment and harming the earth. More and more people are switching to alternatives and reducing plastic use in their everyday lives. However, while traveling many of us forget about our habits, and switch to ‘one-time’ mindsets. The plastic used during travel is as harmful for our surroundings as it is used at home. 

The tourism industry generates a huge amount of single-use plastics which is a problem not only for the environment, but also for local disposal systems as well. Plastic bottles are one of the most common plastic items tourists tend to use frequently. So, the next time you pack, remember to take a reusable water bottle with you, a tote bag, reusable cups, and maybe even a metal straw.

water bottle, responsible tourism sustainable recycle

Copyright: Bluewater Sweden

  1. Separate Your Trash and Recycle Where Possible

Tourists can be responsible for twice as much solid waste per capita as residents. This puts an impossibly huge burden on local waste management systems which were initially not built for such a capacity. As a consequence, landfills and sewage plants start to overflow. 

Additionally, improper disposal of trash is causing problems with recycling. All this makes the destinations less attractive and the areas too polluted for residents to live in a healthy environment. Being cautious about the trash you produce during your travel and always opting for recycling can help ease the waste management process for the local communities. 

  1. Fly less, walk, and bike instead of driving

Most of the time flying is to blame for the huge amount of carbon emissions and is one of the biggest polluters in the tourism industry. Airline companies all over the world are trying to develop more sustainable ways of flying, but progress is slow. Choosing a near-to-home location to travel to or your own country itself are sustainable alternatives to traveling. Use a train, bike, or electric car to move around and decrease your carbon footprint. Decreasing your carbon footprint is critical for ethical travel. 

Responsible travelers can switch to walking or biking in destinations. This gives you a chance to experience the locale at a better pace, meet new people and enjoy the journey in general. And if you’re worried about the weather, you can always go for public transport – just bring your raincoat and continue your adventures. This will eventually lead you to discover small shops, new places, and areas you would have never reached otherwise.

Enjoy your fall vacations – leave no trace, and don’t forget to take care of the environment and people around you! Follow these steps and be well on your way towards ethical travel.

Want to learn more about sustainable and regenerative tourism? Take one of Solimar International’s engaging courses. Contact us today

A Tourism Improvement District (TID) is a revolutionary way to fund destination marketing programs. They are typically run by local businesses that collaborate and invest collectively to support the growth and development of their destination’s tourism industry. Depending on where you are in the world, the concept of a Tourism Improvement District has several different names. The United States first started using this term in West Hollywood in 1989. The UK and other destinations soon followed, by developing similar public-private partnerships sometimes called “Business Improvement Districts” or “Tourism Marketing Districts”.  Though they have different names, the goal is the same – increase the number of overnight visitors using business and services.

Lodging businesses are usually heavily involved, charging each visitor a per-night occupancy tax (also called a lodging tax, room tax, hotel tax, or tourist tax) usually ranging from 1-5% of the total bill. These funds raised are then directed to a destination marketing organization/destination management organization (DMO), and must be used on programs that increase paid nights spent in the destination. The TID tends to fund services such as marketing programs, tourism promotions, and projects to regenerate the destination to make it more attractive to prospective visitors. The period of the district varies, ranging from one year to a ten-year term, with some contracts lasting even longer. A 2016 survey of tourism districts revealed that most districts took between six and twelve months to form.

West Hollywood Tourism Improvement District Case Study

West Hollywood is the city where it all began and the home of the first TID (and now one of ninety-five of California’s cities that have a TID). In 2013, West Hollywood revived its previous TID and increased the hotel’s levy from 1.5% to 3%. The levy was then given to the West Hollywood Travel and Tourism Board where they used these funds to form strategic plans to promote the identity of West Hollywood, create a destination marketing strategy targeting potential visitors, and undertake advertising solely focused on the travel industry. In 2014, they implemented a three-year plan with the following objectives:

  • Increase demand of the destination
  • Strengthen domestic and international awareness
  • Improve and grow partnerships
  • Be a leader in developing the destination
  • Reinforce a culture of innovation

To achieve these objectives, they spent a total of $6,289,440 with the hotel levy contributing a staggering $5,900,000.

A 2015-2016 annual report by the West Hollywood Travel and Tourism Board, noted there were 1.38 million visitors to West Hollywood during this year. These visitors spent a total of $737,212,000, and directly supported 5,289 tourism industry jobs. In 2017-2018, West Hollywood saw record-breaking visitor numbers and spending, with over 3.59 million visitors, spending $1.73 billion, with an increase of employment supporting total 7,958 jobs. These numbers indicate how vast growth occurred in just two years.

Beyond West Hollywood, TIDs have developed other global destinations such as Visit Britain registering a 4 million increase in visitor numbers annually, and Visit Barbados showing an additional 2 million visitors per year. Once a Tourism Improvement District is implemented, destinations must be sure to maintain focus on the implementation of a tourism development strategy for consistent tourism promotion. Businesses in a destination need to collaborate and sync their efforts, to consider innovative ways to effectively market their destination.

 

 

“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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