At a time when South Africans - especially Western Cape residents - are growing intensely aware of their environment’s vulnerability and the serious need to tread gently, businesses championing the environmental protection cause should share encouraging messages of its sustainability initiatives and business ethos.
According to Booking.com’s recent Sustainability Report, the number of travellers staying in an eco-friendly accommodation at least once could double this year with 65% of global travellers expressing this intention, versus 34% who stayed in one or more last year. With “environmentally-friendly lodging” also named a top 2017 travel trend by Travel Channel Today, it is clear that travellers’ sustainable appetite is growing.
From a tourism perspective, more and more travelers are looking for sustainable tourism options. A wine farm outside Stellenbosch, Spier believes the secret to successful sustainable tourism lies in taking guests and staff with you on your sustainability journey.
Sustainability has always been at the heart of Spier with its hotel featuring energy-efficient mini-bars, water-wise showers and Vivreau filtered water served in reusable glass bottles, being the first in SA to be awarded a Fair Trade in Tourism accreditation in 2003.
Heidi Newton-King, Director of Sustainability and Human Resources at Spier, said while fostering a culture of sustainability, sharing these initiatives helps people learn from one another and create a stronger sense of community.
“Your guests first need to know you’re serious and genuine in your efforts, before they’ll play a role so you have to illustrate that as a business you are taking responsibility in caring for the environment and people.
“Identify the largest energy consumers, measuring, monitoring and reporting regularly. Then start acting on the results, implementing programmes and putting systems in place,” she said.
Newton-King said the toughest challenge in achieving sustainability goals remains behavioural change.
“That’s why we offer guests opportunities to make a difference, such as its offset programme and “Pack with a Purpose” project where guests are encouraged to bring much-needed items with them to South Africa that they then donate to a school or community project that Spier supports."