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:
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).
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.
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.