Fair Trade Tourism Joins IYSTD17 ini­tia­tive

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL -

The tourism in­dus­try is of­ten sub­jected to fads and fash­ions, and busi­nesses strug­gle to keep up with these rapidly chang­ing re­quire­ments – of­ten for naught, be­cause cus­tomers quickly move on to the next craze. But en­vi­ron­men­tal friend­li­ness is a trend that is here to stay. Peo­ple around the world have be­come very aware of en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues in the past decade, and many are look­ing for ways to re­duce their im­pact on the planet and to live a more sus­tain­able, re­spon­si­ble life­style.

Eco­tourists also ex­tend this think­ing to their hol­i­days. They seek out des­ti­na­tions and busi­nesses that have “green” prac­tices in place, and even those who are not ac­tively in­ter­ested in the topic will pre­fer a sus­tain­able es­tab­lish­ment over one that is not. So, go­ing green can have a di­rect im­pact on your bot­tom line, not to men­tion your rep­u­ta­tion as a for­ward-think­ing and re­spon­si­ble busi­ness.

Green­ing a busi­ness means putting poli­cies in place that en­sure ef­fi­cient, re­duced use of re­sources (like wa­ter,

elec­tric­ity and fuel), sus­tain­able prac­tices, com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and aware­ness. It is a mul­ti­fac­eted dis­ci­pline that in­volves ev­ery­thing from build­ing energy-ef­fi­cient struc­tures to switch­ing off lights and re­duc­ing the fre­quency that laun­dry is done.

Many busi­ness own­ers are un­der the mis­con­cep­tion that be­com­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly in­curs many costs and is in­con­ve­nient – but a clever green­ing strat­egy will re­sult in the op­po­site ef­fect.

Here are some green prac­tices you can put in place quickly and cheaply:

Re­duce your re­liance on elec­tric­ity-guz­zling air con­di­tion­ing by erect­ing shade net­ting over windows, adding shut­ters or plant­ing trees near build­ings – these will re­duce the heat that comes in.

Re­duce, re­use, re­cy­cle. Re­duce the amount of pack­ag­ing and dis­pos­able prod­ucts you use (don't print out dig­i­tal doc­u­ments, for ex­am­ple), re­use con­tain­ers and ma­te­ri­als (empty jars make great flower vases, herb pots or sta­tionery or­gan­is­ers), and re­cy­cle ma­te­ri­als that are more energy in­ten­sive to man­u­fac­ture from scratch (glass, wtin and plas­tic are good can­di­dates).

Rethink the way you use trans­port. If your es­tab­lish­ment offers guests trans­ported tours by car, con­sider whether those could be con­ducted on foot or bi­cy­cle. Your guests may even ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing “closer to the ground” and more in touch with their sur­round­ings.

Source lo­cally in­stead of pur­chas­ing im­ported goods. Make the most of the prod­ucts and ser­vices avail­able in the area – this not only re­sults in fresher pro­duce, but also makes your of­fer­ing more cus­tomised and lo­cal. Tourists these days ap­pre­ci­ate more unique, cul­tural and lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences, so this can even be­come a strong mar­ket­ing point.

Be wa­ter wise. South Africa is largely a dry cli­mate and wa­ter is a scarce re­source. Plant indige­nous flora on your grounds, catch rain­wa­ter for wa­ter­ing and clean­ing, in­stall wa­ter-sav­ing shower, toi­let and tap at­tach­ments, and avoid drink­ing wa­ter in plas­tic bot­tles – it's costly and en­vi­ron­men­tally un­friendly. Rather pro­vide jugs of fresh wa­ter with a slice of cu­cum­ber or lemon as a re­fresh­ment to guests.

Cut down on ex­cess ser­vices. Guests don't change their sheets and tow­els ev­ery day at home, so they don't need to have these re­placed ev­ery day. Of­fer this as an ex­tra ser­vice rather than as a ba­sic feature, and ex­plain your rea­son­ing – guests will un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate that they can make a sim­ple con­tri­bu­tion like this.

Ed­u­cate your staff and guests about re­spon­si­ble and sus­tain­able prac­tices. Pro­vide a leaflet to guests about some ways they can help pro­tect the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment – they will ap­pre­ci­ate the in­for­ma­tion and your ini­tia­tive.

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