Sustainable travel has come a long way in recent years and not only from a resort and business perspective but also from a traveller perspective. Tourists have become a lot stricter on the type of location they visit, how “green” the location is, what experience the resort offers as well as what they are willing to pay for all of this, it’s important for the travel industry to sit up and take notice of these tourist “demands”.
Ramesh Jeenarain, Managing Director at World Leisure Holidays South Africa answers some of the pertinent questions:
What does sustainable travel mean?
It focuses on two more pillars namely economic and social factors. From an economic perspective, social impact travel ensures that money spent on a trip or tour remains within the community, that every effort has a positive impact on the environment and that the culture of the country and community isn’t compromised. Millennials are gaining more spending power but are also more conscious about their impact on the world. As such, these travellers are demanding sustainable travel options and are willing to pay more to ensure that they are staying at an eco-friendly resort. This type of holidaying termed barefoot luxury is growing in popularity among holiday-makers and resorts and holiday accommodation that isn’t including sustainable travel choices will be doing themselves (and their environment, culture and economy) a huge injustice.
How can the travel industry ensure that it is practising sustainable travel?
By reducing the environmental impact. These can include:
* Paperless check-in and check-out.
* Refillable soap, shampoo and shower gel dispensers that reduce the amount of plastic and waste that goes through the accommodation on a daily basis.
* Donating leftover food to underprivileged communities in the area instead of throwing it away also shows the resort’s commitment to sustainable travel.
* Offer locally relevant experiences to tourists, allowing them to really get to know the location they are visiting, this promotes good choices and healthy activities across the locals and the tourists.
* Preserving natural sites, lifestyles and the uniqueness of the destination not only attracts tourists but shows local pride and responsibility. Inspiring farm-to-table dining far supersedes imported, endangered cuisine.
* Actively showing respect for and treating staff, locals and children well can have a huge impact on the type of visitors to the resort.
How can tourists tell whether a resort practices sustainable travel?
Their offering needs to clearly state that they offer a unique experience that’s (if possible) certified eco-friendly accommodation. There are many authentic international certificates that resorts can receive. The trend towards greener experiences over traditional hotels among travellers continues to grow. Resorts that can show that they are consciously reducing their carbon footprint through their accommodation and activity often rank far higher than skyscraping establishments.
A final word of advice for sustainable travel in 2018
By managing and communicating their sustainable travel efforts, resorts are able to stay top of mind when holidaymakers are deciding on where to book their next holiday as well as when recommending sustainable tourism to others.