You may have heard the terms sustainable travel and regenerative travel, and been puzzled at what they are and how best to integrate them into your tour company. At first glance, it is easy to think that these terms are simply buzzwords used for marketing, but in reality, they are more than mere ideas on paper. They represent how to implement more green, sustainable, and regenerative practices into your tour guide business, and they can be a game changer to your brand(opens in a new tab).
Understanding the difference between sustainable and regenerative travel can be confusing, they might even seem synonymous. Sustainable trave(opens in a new tab)l focuses on neutralizing tourism’s negative impact on the planet, while the core principles of regenerative travel(opens in a new tab) focus on not only mitigating negative effects of tourism to the environment, but actively working to rebuild it as well. An example of sustainable travel practice is to use biodegradable packaging. A business being proactive to regrow areas that were negatively impacted for the future is an example of a regenerative practice.
While there are many approaches, the two general steps to taking action include:
- Awareness of how tourism impacts the locals, as well as the economic, cultural and environmental systems in your area
- Creating connections, and working alongside the community to maximize positive impact and enhance the local economy and environment.
The benefits of engaging in sustainable or regenerative tourism are not only for the benefit of the environment and local community, but for your own business as well. Research has shown that the market for ecotourism is set to nearly triple(opens in a new tab) in the next five years. By helping the environment, you are helping to preserve destinations for years to come, enabling future tourism to thrive. Additionally, by engaging in green practices, you are able to advertise your company to a whole new niche that prioritizes sustainable travel. Let’s look at some ideas on how your company can enter into the sustainability game while promoting green features that more and more tourists are trending towards.
Embracing Green Practices
The first step is to implement sustainability measures and regenerative practices into your company.
Reducing carbon footprint through transportation choices
While this may be the biggest item on the list, such investments pay off in the end. For example, it may mean evaluating the different types of transportation and transportation routes you use, and then deciding what is the most sustainable to use.
Look at your business as a whole, and see where you can produce less waste. One example is to stop handing out pamphlets at the end of each tour. Instead, try using QR codes. Another idea is to look at how you serve food during tours. Does your tour group stop for lunch? Instead of using plastic cups, plates, and utensils consider bringing real silverware, cups, and plates instead. It may be more effort for the tour guide, but it showcases your commitment to sustainability. Plus these types of efforts enhance the experience for the customer, elevating the meal from a cheap picnic to a luxurious memory.
Developing a sustainability policy
A great way to showcase your company’s stance is writing your own sustainability policy and having it on your website. This gives your company a unique edge by stating and proving your commitment to sustainability goals. Read more here(opens in a new tab) for a list of what is in a typical sustainability policy.
Plant as you go
Rehabilitating the environment is beneficial both for the area itself as well as the experience of your customers. Being able to create fun memories while giving back is not something that you see everyday.
Educate customers and provide resources on sustainable travel
Face time with your customers is what the tour industry is all about, and efforts towards regenerative travel are no exception. Integrating sustainability into the storytelling of your tour is essential, and sharing facts that highlight the significance of the environment to the local region and community emphasizes the reality of the situation to your customers. Additionally, giving resources such as local eco-friendly businesses and conservation initiatives enable the customer to make educated decisions, and help build a network and company partnerships.
Certifications help establish you as an authority on environmentally friendly travel. Consider one of the below options for your company:
- The B.Corp Certification(opens in a new tab)
- The Travelife Certification(opens in a new tab)
- The Green Globe Certification (opens in a new tab)
- The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Certification(opens in a new tab)
Promoting Your Eco Efforts
As inherently important as making green strides is on its own, so is letting customers know all the great work you are doing for your local environment and community.
Partnering with local conservation initiatives, eco friendly accommodations, and local restaurants
Reaping the benefits of business partnerships (opens in a new tab)may be as old as business itself, but these partnerships also have an extra value-added prong. Businesses that partner for a mission aligned with shared values are a natural draw for consumers. This creates connections in the mind of the customer that if they are a fan of your partner company, they must be a fan of yours as well.
Combined deals are beneficial for customers. Because sustainable travel is often more expensive, by creating sustainable partnerships, you give customers not only an ethical reason to book with you, but also a financial incentive as well.
Using your channels to update the public on environmental issues affecting your area
Personalization is something that adds unique character to your business. Seeing that your company cares about the local environment may inspire the public or other businesses to be aware of such issues and take up the cause as well. It will also add more relevant content to share on your social media channels that connects you to a larger community. Updating your website consistently(opens in a new tab) with sustainability issues and information is important to show your priorities and commitments as a brand.
Highlight your positive impact through monitoring and reporting of your efforts
Small things you might not think about may contribute to your footprint. For example, it is likely your company could stand to reduce the emissions of your website(opens in a new tab) which can be achieved by reducing the size of the files on your site. Examples like this may seem like a small initiative, but it can create great impacts. Monitoring the behind-the-scenes activities like this are just as integral to being environmentally conscious with the public face of the company.
The role of tour operators within sustainable travel comes with great responsibility. Your job is to not only educate and provide a memorable experience for your customer, but to help save the earth for future generations as well. The balance between these responsibilities are difficult, but worthwhile. The positive impacts of regenerative tourism are numerous: from connections made with the local community, to the preservation of your location and environment (your biggest sell), and finally to help expand the audience you serve.
Get potential customers interested in the green initiatives you are implementing by updating your website to match this growing prioritization of the environment. When it comes to a job as important as this, you can count on experts of Tourism Tiger to help. Contact us here(opens in a new tab) to get a quote on your website today.
Written by Chloe Rose.
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