ABTA released a report in 2020 saying that they predicted 2019 would be the year that sustainability issues would go mainstream and their theory was proved by the rise in headlines about Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion and increased media appetite for shows like David Attenborough’s Seven Worlds, One Planet. There’s no doubt about it, sustainability has gone mainstream and sustainable tourism is something that will only increase in popularity in the coming months and years. The attraction news site Blooloop, is hosting their event GreenLoop this week to bring together thoughts about how to make attractions more sustainable.
What does sustainability actually mean for visitor attractions?
There’s lots of talk in the media about achieving the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral, this is a great aspiration for many attractions but unfortunately not a realistic one. If you can get your attraction to achieve net-zero carbon by all means go for it, but it’s more realistic to set the goal of becoming a more sustainable attraction. A good place to start is looking at each area of your attraction and understanding what decisions have been made and why? Sustainability shouldn’t be a scary word, it should be something that is taken into account when decisions are made, such as food wastage and impacts on the environment. We’re not saying you need to suddenly adopt new practices but rather take into account your actions and how you can help your community and environment become more sustainable. A good place to start could be to write up your sustainability pledge, what is your attraction setting out to do and how will you achieve it. Having a sustainability policy may help you commit to the changes you plan to make, why not check out the Eden Project’s policy as an example. As a customer of VisiSoft we know they are absolutely dedicated to making their attraction as sustainable as possible.
How can your visitor attraction make a difference to sustainability?
You don’t have to spend lots of money to make a difference, you can start small and as you improve your visitor attraction’s sustainability you can start to think bigger. Making adjustments such as eliminating single use plastic from around your attraction can be very impactful. Adding lots of recycling points around your attraction and promoting recycling at visitor touch points is a great idea to, it let’s visitors get involved in being sustainable too, and is fairly cheap to implement. Other ways to make an impact could be; switching to green energy suppliers or sources, or implementing your own source of sustainable and renewable energy. Encouraging your visitors to use public transport to get to you, rather than driving individually, this could be promoting ‘how to find us’ information on your website and social media platforms so visitors know there are bus/ train routes or even somewhere to store their bikes if you have regular local visitors. Adding areas to your attraction that promote the environment such as tree planting and gardens for natural wildlife.
What comes next?
What comes next is up to you, by starting to create small changes in your visitor attraction you can begin to make a bigger impact on the environment around you. If your attraction is already doing most of what we have suggested try and take it to the next level get your visitors involved with events such as litter picking Mondays when for every bag of litter picked around your country park you can get a token to use in the gift shop etc – this is a great way to encourage the teaching of sustainability to both parents and children. If you have lots of land, try doing nature walks where visitors can really begin to understand the importance of keeping the environments around them sustained.
If you’re ready to take the next step, why not think bigger and make some investment into longer term advantage. Maybe invest in better insulation for any in door elements of your visitor attraction and therefore reduce energy use or install electric car charging points to encourage those with electric cars to visit. You could even think about switching food and beverage suppliers to more local ones, therefore reducing the need for stock to travel as far across the country and minimise carbon emissions. There are lots of ideas of how your visitor attraction can make a difference to the environment. With visitor s becoming more and ore conscious of sustainability issues and how they are impacting this, its absolutely the right time to get some measure in place. Once you feel like you’re attraction is ready to promote it’s sustainability why not go for the ‘Green Check’ – you can find out more about that here: https://www.green-tourism.com/pages/home
Visit Britain has some great resources to help you explore how to make your busienss sustainable in 2021, check them out here: https://www.visitbritain.org/business-advice/make-your-business-sustainable