All posts by deby

Why Does Sustainability Matter in Tourism?


This article appeared in SEVENSEAS Travel Magazine, September 2016

Experience the Difference Eco Diving Makes with Scuba 6 Eco Diving

By Deby Stabler for Blue Certified

As part of the Blue Certified article series on sustainable scuba diving and tourism, we aim to highlight leaders in the dive industry. At Scuba 6 Eco Diving in Isla Bastimentos, Panama, educating customers about ocean ecosystems not only provides a more meaningful experience but promotes ocean conservation.Angelfish_Queen2_Cozumel_Sept2011_W_joe3lo

At Scuba 6 Eco Diving, school’s cool! Eco Briefings teach why and how the formation of the Isthmus of Panama is related to the special marine life there, fun fish facts, and strange behaviors of the cool creatures divers are likely to see.

Full comprehensive Eco Briefings give divers knowledge of the marine life below. Divers regularly say their experience is more interesting because they are not just looking at fish — but actually understand what they are doing and how everything fits together.

Scuba 6 Eco Diving is in the dive industry because of a strong passion for the underwater world. Their motto: dive with a purpose, see more, and have more fun!  “We are dedicated to diver education, marine protection and community awareness” says Ginette Bariteau, owner of the dive shop.Ginette_& Coral_Identification

Protecting what we love is a key goal of Blue Certified.  Blue Certified is an eco-certification focusing on 30 best practices around sustainable diving, tourism, and business. Through the program, dive shops learn and implement the 3 P’s of sustainable business that include profit (economic), planet (environmental), and people (socio-cultural).  Developed by Ocean First Institute (OFI), in partnership with Sustainable Travel International, Blue Certified provides scuba dive operations with the tools to perform better for themselves, the environment, their community, and their customers.

Ginette says “Customers choose us specifically for our Eco Diving and for what we represent.  Blue Certified helps us maintain a high level of quality as well as minimize our environmental impact.”Isla Bastimentos

Dive in with Scuba 6 Eco Diving, share their love and wonder for the marine environment, and feel good knowing you are helping protect the marine environment one dive at a time.


Join us again next month to read about tips for sustainable diving and tourism as part of Blue Certified’s partnership with SEVENSEAS Magazine.

scuba6 logoScuba 6 Eco Diving continually strives to surpass customer expectations and to forge a path to a more sustainable dive industry that others can follow. Scuba 6 Eco Diving’s goal is to offer extended bottom time and share a love and knowledge of the marine environment so that visitors get the most from the time spent underwater.

BlueCertified_logo_PANTONEWith partnerships throughout the dive industry, Blue Certified guides dive shops towards operating at an optimal level in all day-to-day operations and in relation to their biggest stakeholder, the ocean.

At Ocean First Institute, we are a passionate team of scientists, educators, divers, explorers and filmmakers dedicated to creating a path of hope and change to improve the health of our world’s ocean. Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza, Executive Director, is passionate about sharing her love of the ocean, the joy of exploration, and the critical importance of science.  Contact her at and jump in at

Deby Stabler is a sustainability consultant for OFI focusing on responsible tourism. Imagine a vacation that improves the destination you are visiting at

Recap: Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference

Kayaking at Fort de Soto Park
Kayaking at Fort de Soto Park

By Deby Stabler

The inaugural North American Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference successfully brought together an international community during the last week of January 2016 at the University of South Florida, Tampa. Presentations by industry leaders including Dr. Kelly Bricker and Dr. David Randle engaged, inspired, and called the 200+ participants to action. Additionally, numerous intimate break-out sessions enabled interactive presentations and discussions.

There’s much excitement as 2017 has been named the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. This “is a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability… while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued” said UNWTO Secretary-General Rifai.

Personal insights include:

Carolin Lusby talks about CBT
Carolin Lusby talks about CBT
  • The power of responsible tourism in eliminating poverty and furthering the Sustainable Development Goals (including the important role of women, and using community-based tourism to unlock location specific tourism benefits) as the tourism industry continues to grow.
  • The role of certifications and standards in continuing to move the tourism industry forward (such as GSTC).
  • A need for formal, structured, or scientifically based methods to improve success of eco and sustainable tourism efforts (including EMS, TQM, system dynamics, etc).
  • Innovation is key to increasing possibilities (such as GIS-based interpretation accessible with cell phone apps, HomeBiogas to turn waste into energy, and a dog trained to detect threatened turtle nests with 100% accuracy).

See you at next year’s North American conference, as well as the International conference in Korea.

Special thanks to Visit St. Pete for a fantastic day of ecotouring within the ESTC.

Ecotour Friends
ESTC Ecotour Friends


How to Make Sustainability Stick

By Deby Stabler

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It’s the middle of January and I ask: how many of your New Year’s resolutions are already forgotten? It’s tough to make things stick, even when they are very worthwhile. Sustainability initiatives are slippery sometimes, but you can make them stick with some of these tips.

  • List tangible benefits within your goal. If you determine that the new initiative saves $50 a month or attracts 3 new customers each week, you will stick to it.
  • Enlist the help of your staff and train them about any changes. A fringe benefit of sustainability programs is that staff engagement increases when working in a culture that promotes a greater cause.  Ensure their buy-in as they are likely to have insights on how to make the initiative even better.
  • Monitor your progress. Checking in on how well you are doing keeps you motivated as you see the needle moving bit by bit. And if you don’t see what you expected, you can make adjustments before letting too much time go by.
  • Tout your commitment. Telling your network makes it harder to drop out and you can mentor each other on overcoming challenges. Plus, you can gain followers on social media when you vlog about your continual improvement story.
  • Systematize it.  Incorporate your sustainability initiatives throughout your organization.  From planning to implementation to reporting, systematizing sustainability provides you with staying power and maximizes your results.

These tips align with a Plan-Do-Check-Feedback cycle, which is the foundation of an Environmental Management System (EMS).  Learn how to easily apply systematic sustainability to your business at my upcoming presentation at The International Ecotoursim Society’s conference in Florida.  I’ll be speaking on January 27th and will utilize an effective implementation template so that you can apply EMS principles to better your business—and to make sustainability stick.

If you would like help with your sustainability initiatives, please email me.

Learn more about EMS and Responsible Tourism.

5 Tips to Reduce Your Holiday Waste

By Deby Stabler

Xmas lights 2

  1. Think outside of the box. Consider putting holiday money into a scholarship fund or donating to a nonprofit.
  2. Party like a zero. Integrate a couple of zero-waste ideas into your festivities:  bring back the original white elephant to recycle great gifts that didn’t quite suit you, wrap gifts in newspaper comics, or reuse classy gift boxes, bags, and ribbons instead of using wrapping paper.
  3. Recharge. Give rechargeable batteries and a battery charger to keep batteries out of the landfill.
  4. Shine on with solar holiday lights. The sunlight is minimal these days, but the sun’s energy will keep bringing light into the night—plus there are no extension cords to mess with!
  5. Resolve. Incorporate a couple new sustainability habits into your New Year’s resolutions. Visit my Project Azul Verde website waste tips page for some ideas.