As consumers become more aware of environmental issues, demand for ‘green’ products and services is increasing, including within the tourism industry, and it is recognised as such by the United Nations, which has named 2017 as the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
The recent Stop, Think, Discuss, research results showed that 66 per cent of respondents said sustainability is an important factor when choosing a resort. This increased to 90 per cent for European consumers.
Tourism businesses recognise the need for change. In the last two decades, more than 5,000 businesses have been awarded a Green Tourism assessment and in the last five years there has been an increase of 30 per cent in UK businesses reducing environmental impacts.
So, what is perceived as sustainable? It isn’t simply carbon footprint, even though this is important. Consumers appreciate businesses that care for their staff and community. Our Green Tourism accreditation assures customers that our award holders take extra measures to invest in people and their area. This isn’t always financial; it can include actively encouraging guests to participate in local cultural and natural attractions. This can boast local economies but also protect traditions that would otherwise be at risk of dying out.
By having a symbol of accreditation, customers can have confidence in their chosen accommodation. It helps them make informed decisions based on their ethical beliefs. Carbon footprint is important to many, and we are seeing more and more interest from customers wanting to ‘do their bit’ for the planet. As much as 30 per cent of someone’s annual carbon footprint can come from a holiday – for example a family holiday to Majorca creates two tonnes of CO2. Staying in the UK is an easy and significant way to reduce your carbon footprint as well as supporting outstanding businesses and attractions.
Added together with a local resort that sources local produce and your contribution to lowering your own carbon footprint becomes even greater. If that property also, for example, uses alternative energy sources it gets even more beneficial for our environment. You really can make a difference! The more people that get behind this movement, the bigger the difference we can make – and we really don’t need to compromise our standards. There are many amazing Green Tourism properties in the UK and their numbers are growing.
With this increasing demand expected to continue we are encouraging tourism businesses to seek a review for our accreditation. We are offering a free Green Check with one of our assessors until the end of January and can offer guidance and discuss what we know about this industry – that consumers, particularly Generation Y, are motivated by ethical consumption. We can certainly back that up by the experiences of those who currently hold a Green Tourism award.
There really is a very positive future for this industry. Only this month, Green Tourism achieved a world first for an accreditation programme – being Highly Commended at the World Travel Market (WTM) Responsible Tourism Awards 2017. This surely illustrates how the sustainable market is leading the way. Find out more at www.green-tourism.com.
Andrea Nicholas from Green Tourism.