Oh, the great outdoors. As a tour operator, you have our beautiful planet to thank for your business. The lush green forests and crystal clear lakes are what keep tourists coming back season after season.
While tourism has many benefits (boosting the economy, job creation, and diversification to name a few) it can have negative consequences on our planet if we aren’t careful.
Luckily, travelers today are a lot more environmentally conscious. They’re willing to give up certain luxuries, or in some cases pay more, to reduce their ecological footprint.
The business decisions you make today will have a significant impact on the planet in the future. And since your business depends on the environment, an investment in sustainability is an investment in your business sustainability.
The United Nations has designated 2017 to be the International Year of Sustainable Tourism and Development. So if you haven’t stepped up your eco-game yet, this is the year to do it.
Here are 7 ways to make your tour greener
Educate your guests
Your tour operators have a unique opportunity to educate your guests about the surrounding environment. They can create a sense of appreciation for the land and wildlife around them. Plus awareness of the effect of global warming and unsustainable business practices.
Whistler Eco Tours provide guided canoe, kayak, hike and bike tours. Their interpretive guides pass on knowledge of the local flora, fauna history, and geology throughout the tours. They even offer an outdoor education skills course for schools! They do an amazing job creating an educational adventure experience.
Showcase local sites
Educating your guests about local residents and traditions is also important. This helps maintain social responsibility and has a positive impact on the local communities. Plus most guests love to learn the history.
EcoChile tours are all about people and places. They’re committed to developing and improving tourism in remote zones. They take responsibility for recovering important traditions that have been lost over time.
Use local products
Source as much of the food you provide on your tours from local farms and grocers. 38% of travelers say they would be willing to pay more to buy locally made products. It’s a perfect opportunity to partner with people in your community and provide guests a more authentic experience.
FincaBellavista is a Treehouse Community in Costa Rica with a community base camp that offers tours and activities. The majority of the food consumed within the community is locally sourced and made on site.
Compost and recycle
Go beyond placing recycling and compost bins on your property. Sort and separate reusables, recyclables, and waste. Opt for recyclable materials such as toilet paper. If old equipment breaks down, try to repair and reuse it whenever possible.
Aguila De Osa in Cuba takes their recycling one step further by donating all their recyclables to local schools. The schools use the money for supplies and repairs.
Use solar power
Solar power is an excellent way to reduce the amount of electricity used by your business. Install solar panels on your roof or use solar powered lights throughout your property. Every little bit makes a difference.
Spicers in Australia runs multi-day hiking tours. At night guests stay in an undeveloped campsite that is entirely run on solar power. It’s a great example of sustainable luxury travel.
Be smart about water
Don’t sell bottled water on your tour. Instead, have clean water taps on your property and let guests know they need to bring their own bottles. If you have a booking system, you can easily set up an email notification the day before arrival. Bonus points if your water source is local and eco-friendly.
The facilities at the Elephant Conservation in Laos filter water from a nearby lake. Freedom from malnutrition is one of the five freedoms of animals living in human care. Freshwater plays a vital role in this.
Paper waivers and invoices have a significant impact on your footprint as a business. If the US alone cuts its office paper use by just 10% by moving to digital, it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.45 million metric tons. That’s the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road for an entire year. Switching to a booking platform like Checkfront can help you save trees and gain smarter insights into your business.
Eagle Wing Tours offer whale and wildlife watching in Victoria, Canada. They have pledged to be a 100% carbon neutral business. To meet this promise, they use Checkfront to power their bookings and use 100% recyclable paper when necessary.