Sustainable tourism has been defined by the World Tourism Organization as “satisfying current tourist and host community needs, while protecting and improving future opportunities. It is seen as a guide in managing all resources, in such a way that economic, social, and aesthetic needs may be met, while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and life support systems.”

Making a reality of sustainable tourism entails adopting “best practices,” namely, corrective or improved measures implemented in every area of tourist business management and operation. These actions are aimed at ensuring that the least possible impact is caused, that tourist product quality and image are improved, that business development becomes more efficient, and therefore, social and economic development does as well.

In our previous article we looked at the three basic pillars of sustainable tourism. We would like to help you achieve that and have put together the following key, points to get you started.

Pillar one: Environmental Sustainability – Taking Care of Our Natural Resources

  • Water – Throughout this century, global water demand has increased seven-fold, whereas global population has tripled. Currently, the future of water reserves depends on the use we make of this fragile and limited resource. Use it as sparingly as possible. Ensure that your establishment is waterwise!
  • Energy Consumption – Harness alternative power sources like solar and wind energy generation where possible. Not only is this good, sustainable practice, it will also save you money!
  • Flora and Fauna – Endangered species, or products thereof, or products made from them or deriving from unsustainable practices, should not be consumed, sold, trafficked, or displayed under any circumstances. Tell your guests how important it is not to buy these species or products thereof. On the other hand, encourage the purchase of sustainably-made handicrafts or food products, favoring those produced under certification and, if possible, by local businesses.
  • Conservation of Natural areas – Get involved in the maintenance and conservation of your immediate area. Educate your guests on the importance of looking after the area they are visiting. Discourage littering, destruction of natural areas etc
  • Landscaped areas and gardens – It is strongly advised to keep your gardens indigenous. Get in touch with a landscaper to assist if you are not confident in creating an indigenous garden yourself. Avoid using pesticides at all times!
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle– This practise reduces the use of energy and resources such as water, electricity, transportation, and petroleum by-products. To the extent possible, use recycled and biodegradable products.
  • Pollution – Try and manage all wastewater in such a way they will not create pollution or affect public health and take all measures to minimize pollutant gas and aerosol emissions, loud noises, and strong odors.
  • Environmental Education – Always ensure that responsible visitor and staff behaviour is fostered with regard to the environment. Educate and assist where necessary and create awareness of any environmental issues, like water restrictions, electricity shortage etc

Without the environment in which your establishment exists, you won’t have a business to run! Therefore, get informed, take responsibility and most importantly, take action!

Next time we look at the socio-economic sphere and how you can make a difference!