10 Simple Tips for Tourism Businesses on their Sustainable or Regenerative Journey
Published on March 9, 2023
Adopting a 'purpose before profit' ethos has the potential to be economically beneficial to tourism businesses whilst also supporting the community and having a long-term positive impact on the environment.
How to embed these sustainable or regenerative practices into day-to-day operations and decision making, is very different for each business.
However, the principles remain the same that all businesses can utilise to ensure they are successful.
So in this article, we take you through our Top 10 Tips For All Tourism Businesses on Their Sustainable/Regenerative Journey, which can be advantageous to all parts of the tourism industry.
1. Do The Right Thing
It may sound simple or obvious but infusing this ethos into your everyday business decisions is one of the keyways you can operate as a sustainable or regenerative tourism business.
See if the business decisions you make benefit the environment and community as well as your customer.
Making a decision that is beneficial for your customer in the short-term but is detrimental to the local environment or community, can lead to direct or indirect negative impacts on your business in the long-term.
2. Progress Not Perfection
No business in the world is perfect, and never will be.
Strive to make continuous progress no matter how small, to keep moving on a path to having a positive impact.
For example, a business may not be able to eliminate plastic waste immediately due to supply chain, budget and other factors but making gradual progress to reduce plastic waste is a step in the right direction.
3. Measure Your Impact
One of the best ways to see where your business is at and where you are going is to measure your impact. Once you do, display it, and identify (as well as communicating) areas to improve on.
Intrepid Travel measure their impact, set goals to improve and include this in their annual report which is displayed on the Intrepid website.
In Europe, New Belgium Brewing created a ‘force for good’ digital report outlining their impact, core values, and goals.
4. Set Short, Medium and Long-Term Goals
Look to go beyond setting targets just for the quarter of fiscal year. Set a combination of sustainable goals from low hanging fruit (easy to achieve), to more ambitious (medium term), to aiming for the stars (longer term).
5. Infuse into Front & Back of House
Aim to develop a multi-faceted approach to the sustainable practices you infuse into your business, so you are making a positive difference across a wide range of aspects.
For 20 years, Diamond Waters Treehouse Retreat, in NSW have infused eco infrastructure and practices across the business. The environmental regeneration of the lands the property is located, is an ongoing process.
Royal Mail Hotel, in the Grampians Victoria has adopted many regenerative practices across the business which are both visible to their customers and taking place behind the scenes.
6. Prioritise Local
See how your business can support local causes, conservation projects, traditional owners, businesses, produce etc.
This can include employing a diverse team who you look after with above industry average working conditions.
It will become hugely beneficial with a more supportive community becoming advocates for your business.
Wildlife Wonders, on the Great Ocean Road source 95% of their supplies from Australian businesses (with 50% within 100km’s of them). The on-site café serves ‘Spotted Ale’ from locally owned brewery Prickly Moses with 100% profits going to conservation.
7. Enhance The Customer Experience With Your Eco Practices
Aim to have sustainable practices which enhance your customers experience as well as being beneficial to the environment and community.
Luxury hotel chain, Crystalbrook Hotels have developed Footprint Free Stay initiative where guests are incentivised with Food & Drink credits for each night they opt out of having room serviced and linen changed.
Wild Adventures Melbourne (WAM) on the Mornington Peninsula, provide all tour guests ‘WAM Eco Packs’ containing reusable bottle, cup, eco towel service, free reef-safe sunscreen to use for the day to ensure no additional waste is caused.
8. Be Vulnerable (and Transparent)
Being transparent with your impact even in areas you could improve on shows that you are a genuine business that’s a force for good. In doing so you will gain customer respect and loyalty.
Certified B-Corp, Ace & Tate Sunglasses in the Netherlands published an article titled ‘Look We F**ked up’ which stated where they have gone wrong in the past and where the aim to have a positive impact in the future.
Clothing brand, Patagonia (also a B-Corp) ran a provocative campaign titled ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’ encouraging people not to buy their clothes to reduce consumption.
9. Shout it From The Rooftops (and make it fun!)
Discover a whole host of audiences keen to hear about your ethical practices (especially if they are unique) including existing and potential customers, the media, employees, and local communities.
It doesn’t have to be a dry message, make it fun and engaging to gain even more attention.
Chocolate brand Tony’s Chocoloney create engaging content to tell their mission of making all chocolate in the world modern slavery free.
Inspired By Iceland delivers serious messaging about travelling responsibly in Iceland, in a tongue in cheek humorous way.
Travalyst is a coalition of some of the world’s biggest names in travel (Expedia, Tripadvisor, Skyscanner, Google, Booking.com etc) to make the industry more sustainable, created a video in New Zealand asking tourists ‘How Would Your Holiday Rate You’?
10. Avoid Greenwashing
Look to go beyond the bare minimum without action.
If you are planning to have a sustainable page on your website, aim to include meaningful positive differences to tell your story.
Including statements which are hard to back up or don’t imply any action can have the opposite desired effect on your potential customer and put them off booking.
This article by Eco Travelist features common examples of greenwashing in the travel industry.
Another blog by Earth Changers details 'Greenwashing in Sustainable Tourism & Responsible Tourism'.
This report by Greenpeace on greenwashing by Australian corporations shows how commonplace it is.
So having a sustainable or regenerative business ethos and mindset infused into your operations means that it gradually and very naturally becomes part of your everyday rather than a tick-box.
If you are looking to understand more about sustainable tourism and regenerative tourism, what they are, and how it fits to your tourism business, you can view more of our articles on the topic!