Another Earth Day is upon us. On Saturday, April 22, we celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement. The theme for Earth Day this year looks to how we can better invest in our planet. The beauty of investment (of time, money, effort and intention) in the planet is that it provides dividends beyond the green, it provides return on investment for communities, businesses AND our environment!
The tourism industry has been moving in great strides in recent years to invest in the planet, through building resilience, embedding sustainability, encouraging behaviour change, and empowering stakeholders. These changes are driven and led by a shift in consciousness by both tourists and operators, as well as taking the time to pause and reflect after the challenges of the last few years.
A recent sustainable travel report by Booking.com provides insight into the change in consumer sentiment and more reasons for the industry to keep investing in the planet:
- 65% of Canadian travellers say they want to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months;
- Travelling more sustainably continues to be front of mind for travellers, with 73% believing we need to make more sustainable choices to ensure the planet is in good shape for future generations;
- Regenerative tourism is front of mind for 64% of travellers, who are wanting to leave the places they visit better than when they arrived. Many travellers are adopting a regenerative approach and searching for vacations with maximum sustainability impact.
If you are already investing in sustainability in your tourism business or destination, WELL DONE! Take the time to reflect on the progress you have made, and share your efforts and initiatives with your peers and industry. Amplify these efforts through gaining a reputable sustainability certification for your operation or destination, and wear that badge with pride. Not only will you be investing in the planet, you will be investing in your business through attracting the local and international travellers who are looking for the sustainability outcomes you offer.
If you are unsure on where your tourism business or destination can start, and want to reap the triple bottom line rewards, here are four simple steps to inspire you to get started this Earth Day.
- Sustainability: Take the Sustainable Tourism 2030 Pledge – a great way to show your commitment to measure your sustainability performance and work towards continuous improvement.
- Community Involvement: Host an event with your community, like a tree-planting, a cleanup or a Teach-In. Missed Earth Day, no problem! You can participate in these types of activities any day of the year.
- Behaviour Change: Can your guests or team be encouraged to change their behaviour when it comes to their waste? Look at your supply chain to identify areas where you can reduce single use items, increase reusables or compostables, and divert waste from the landfill.
- Staff Empowerment: Create a Green Team of dedicated staff or community members who will lead and implement sustainability initiatives in your community or organization.
No matter where you are starting from, the most important step is the first step, and no step is too small. Happy Earth Day 2023!