By Sharon Conceição
Addressing climate change in the adventure travel industry isn’t an easy task. At times, it can even be quite overwhelming, especially for tour operators running small businesses. Yet even small changes in business operations, guest communications, and professional commitments can create big changes on a global scale.
Here are six things tour operators can do today to start becoming more environmentally friendly.
Tip #1: Make a sustainability statement and post it on your website.
Whether you plan to offset carbon emissions or use electric vehicles in your operations, put your goals in writing and share them with the world. Let potential travelers and the rest of the adventure trade know about your commitment to sustainability and about the efforts you make to reach your goals.
Tip #2: Eliminate straws and single-use plastics.
It is now common knowledge what the devastating effects of plastic are for the environment, especially items made of plastic that are used only once. Get rid of plastic straws completely from your tours, encourage your customers to bring their own reusable water bottles, and provide clean drinking water in reusable containers so everyone can fill their own bottles.
Tip #3: Train your travelers.
Tour operators should engage in ongoing training about environmental issues so they can continue to implement eco-friendly practices on a day-to-day basis. This allows them to better understand and learn about environmental responsibility so they can share this with travelers. All communications, from promotional material to information shared by guides, should convey the entire organization’s commitment to the environment.
Tip #4: Join others who have a similar vision.
Collaboration with other people working on similar environmental initiatives in the Industry allows for richer relationships and more robust results. Several organizations are joining other conscious tour operators and regional associations to exchange ideas and challenges. At the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), we see optimistic opportunities through this collaborative practice at each and every level of the sector chain, which will allow the industry as a whole to overcome the degree of environmental degradation we see today.
Tip #5: Look for sustainability certifications.
Internationally respected certifications offer many quality tools and standards that will put your enterprise at a global level of recognition among your peers. In the area of sustainability, it’s not always obvious where to start, and participating in these certification programs may give tour operators a step-by-step process on how best to structure a business operation for sustainability success.
Tip # 6: Stay updated on sustainability initiatives.
Remaining aware of and engaging in education related to the many inspiring sustainability initiatives around the world may help your company develop its own roadmap. Check out the 17 Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations for information and ideas on how to help achieve a better and more sustainable future for the adventure travel sector.
Sharon Conceição is the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s (ATTA) member advocate for Latin America. Born in Rio de Janeiro and raised between the “Cidade Maravilhosa” and Buenos Aires, Sharon graduated in tourism in Buenos Aires. She has worked as a tour guide and developed in different areas of tourism as a travel agent, marketing director in Argentina and Brazil, and social media manager, among other roles.
The opinions expressed in this text are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the position of WTM Latin America.