paradise found

guiding principles for a sustainable tourism development

By Stephanie Draper and Vicky Murray
With Fiona King, Shannon Carr-Shand, Vanessa Ravenscroft and Ben Wood.

September 2008

1 introduction 2 environment 3 people 4 community 5 infrastructure 6 finance 7 creating sustainable destinations 3 7 15 20 25 30 34

Forum for the Future – the sustainable development charity – works in partnership with leading organisations in business and the public sector. Our vision is of business and communities thriving in a future that is environmentally sustainable and socially just. We believe that a sustainable future can be achieved, that it is the only way business and communities will prosper, but that we need bold action now to make it happen. We play our part by inspiring and challenging organisations with positive visions of a sustainable future; finding innovative, practical ways to help realise those visions; training leaders to bring about change; and sharing success through our communications. Registered charity number: 1040519
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Throughout 2008 and 2009, Forum for the Future is engaged in an ambitious work plan around issues of sustainable tourism and travel. Paradise Found – a report focusing on sustainable destinations – is the first in a suite of projects that we are conducting with the leading players in the sector.
The Overland Heaven project aims to make overland travel in Europe a genuinely exciting and low-carbon alternative to flying. An intial scoping study for the project, conducted with The Co-operative Travel, confirmed the potential for this and identified some of the challenges and perceptions that will need to be overcome. We hope that this will catalyse an industrywide initiative to meet these challenges and create an accessible and sustainable overland travel market. Tourism 2023 is a project that aims to help the UK outbound industry and some of its key destinations understand more about their future and be able to plan for it. The study will explore issues around climate change and increasing pressure on key resources such as water. Forum for the Future will deliver this crucial piece of work during 2009 with key members of the industry, including TUI Travel, Thomas Cook, ABTA, The Travel Foundation, Carnival UK, The Co-operative Travel, and British Airways.

1 introduction
“One of the most encouraging developments in the travel industry is that ‘responsible tourism’ has become a buzzword, something we all want to sign up to. But it has been used far too loosely and it’s time to draw breath and work out just what it all means and how we can adopt it. Incorporating sustainability into the travel business is in the interest of everyone – not least the industry – by preserving the environments and cultures that we all want to continue to enjoy.”

Mark Ellingham, Founder – Rough Guides
Holidays are a positive part of our lives and they make an important contribution to the global economy. But there is potential for them to be more beneficial, in most cases substantially so. We want a sustainable future where tourism always benefits the local economy and community, enhancing rather than damaging the natural environments that support them. Sustainable tourism has sometimes been portrayed as a trade-off between the negative environmental impacts of developing and travelling to destinations and the socio-economic benefits that activity can bring. But as this report demonstrates, this is increasingly out-of-date. Sustainable tourism is a clear opportunity to combine environmental protection with socio-economic benefits, in a profitable, future-proofed business. This report demonstrates that the tourism industry, by investing in these five broad areas, can reap both long-term and some immediate financial benefits:

Environment: The hotel chain Accor will not only
benefit the environment with the installation of solar panels for water-heating purposes in 47 of its hotels (page 9), but should also reduce energy bills.

People: UK luxury hotel chain, Hotel du Vin, is
already seeing the financial benefits of adopting more sustainable business practices. Its recruitment costs have halved with the implementation of a development programme, which has significantly reduced staff turnover (page 16).

Community: Further afield, in Kenya, the tourism
At the Forum, we consider that to be truly sustainable businesses must invest in five key areas: the Five Capitals. We rely on natural capital – the environment – for overall sustenance; human capital and social capital – our people and communities – describe our personal happiness and the soundness of the social structures that support us; manufactured capital relates to physical infrastructure; and financial capital enables other forms of capital to be traded. business in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve is enjoying new-found sustainability due to changes in the way the Maasai receive revenue from tour operators and lodges (page 23).

Infrastructure: Investment in infrastructure in the
early stages of a project can make significant financial savings. By integrating sustainability and energy efficiency into the construction of the new Soneva Kiri Eco-suite in Thailand (page 27), the organisation will see financial benefits.

Finance: The Sheraton Rittenhouse in Philadelphia
made a huge saving of $65,000 after implementing several energy saving initiatives, including a state-of-theart heating and cooling process that virtually eliminates the need for air conditioning and heating equipment (page 30).


Why is sustainable development important?
There is a strong business rationale for a sustainable approach to tourism. Businesses need to manage the risk presented by key issues like climate change and water stress. But there are also substantial opportunities to innovate and differentiate too. It makes good business sense to think about sustainability upfront in any big investment – be that a new development, a redevelopment or a refurbishment. The unabated growth of tourism in some areas has destroyed the character of places we love to visit through overdevelopment and this is bad for business. New developments need to learn from past mistakes. It is also important to have considered other options before developing on a virgin site. It is generally preferable from both a cost and environmental perspective to redevelop or retrofit, as it uses fewer resources and can protect pristine sites, as well as use existing infrastructure and labour. Climate change is a live issue too, representing a double-edged sword for tourism. The industry’s CO2 emissions – particularly from aviation – are contributing to climate change. At the same time tourism will be seriously impacted by a changing climate. Leading travel businesses and developers are wise to this and are taking a proactive response. They are anticipating greater regulation, particularly on transport, to meet the

stretching targets needed to tackle climate change. But we are already at a stage where a degree of climate change is inevitable and leading businesses are already planning for some level of adaptation. Sustainable tourism is not merely about managing risks though – it’s about opportunity too. High energy prices present an opportunity to make savings through greater efficiency. Slowly, customers too are starting to ask for more sustainable holiday choices. TripAdvisor’s annual travel trends survey of 2500 travellers from around the world last year found that: ‘26% of respondents said they will be more environmentally conscious in their travel decisions in the coming year.1’ Whilst people often say they’ll do something and then do something quite different, this shows the intention, and market, is there. As a result, business is booming for an ever-increasing number of hotels, resorts and even entire destinations claiming to be ‘eco’ for a share of the growing market for sustainable holidays. But are they truly sustainable, or is it just ‘greenwash’? What does being sustainable actually mean for a tourism development?



Destinations: getting there and being there
The main focus of this report is to identify what it really means for a tourism development, resort or hotel to be sustainable. However, to provide a really sustainable holiday destination, operators need to consider how tourists get there too. We recommend using the ‘travel hierarchy’: 1. Go local 2. Go overland 3. Go longer 4. Go direct 5. Offset This means providing local holidays and offering lowcarbon alternatives to flying. Where flying is unavoidable this means encouraging fewer, longer holidays, and offering direct routes as well as offsetting transport emissions that cannot be avoided.

of sustainability. That said, we are not endorsing the case studies featured as 100% sustainable. Few, if any, developments have been able to excel in all areas. As this report shows, some elements of sustainable tourism are harder to achieve – whilst others are already easily within reach of the mainstream tourism sector. For this reason some of our hallmarks are, or will appear to be, more aspirational than others. Reflecting the global nature and huge diversity of the industry, our examples are drawn from across the globe. This also helps to demonstrate the variety of sustainability challenges. It is obviously important for tourism developments to prioritise the most relevant areas to have maximum impact from the start e.g. water stress in drought-prone regions. In order to be truly economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, all our hallmarks of a sustainable tourism development need to be considered. It may not be possible to act on them all at once, but beginning with the most pressing issues is a good start.

About this report
This report outlines the key features of an exemplar sustainable tourism development. There are impacts throughout the holiday experience – both in getting to a tourism destination and in the time spent being there. This report focuses on the latter, and so is aimed at developers, operators, hoteliers and other holiday providers. By using this guidance, leading businesses can be confident that they are tackling the key issues and are well placed to capture the sustainability opportunity. Using the Forum’s Five Capitals model we have pulled together a total of 21 features of a sustainable tourism development. Where possible we have used case studies to illustrate these features of sustainable tourism – hotels, resorts and developments of all sizes that have demonstrated excellence in different areas


Sustainable tourism developments ...
Developing and operating within environmental limits
• are zero carbon and ready for a ‘low-carbon economy’ where people see carbon as a valuable currency that is in short supply. • protect and enhance local biodiversity. • ensure that materials are responsibly sourced – where possible knowing their provenance from the bottom of the supply chain. • protect water resources and water quality – abstracting less water from fresh supplies than is replaced naturally, and do not impact on the ability of local communities to meet their water needs. • are zero waste – they do not send any waste to landfill.

Helping staff and guests to fulfil their potential

• develop local staff for long-term employment opportunities and career progression. • are safe places to be, have happy, healthy employees and protect the local community from exploitation. • are accessible and can be enjoyed by everyone. • help staff and visitors change their behaviour to live more sustainably. • are places to unwind, relax and have a good time – visitors and staff enjoy being there and their well-being is actively promoted.

Building strong links with the local community

• respect local culture and are sensitive to local customs. • involve and enhance the local community. • benefit the local economy and prioritise goods and services from the local area.

Creating a built environment that supports sustainable living

• use innovative design to promote sustainable living. • are built to the highest environmental standards. • have smart logistics and encourage people to travel to and from the resort in the most sustainable way possible. • enhance the infrastructure in the local community in the most sustainable way. • are prepared for the future impacts of climate change.

Creating long-term financial value

• are a good long-term investment, with solid returns to shareholders. • promote their sustainability credentials and encourage other businesses to do the same. • have a long-term vision for and commitment to the local area.


2 environment
Developing and operating within environmental limits


Zero carbon
Sustainable tourism developments are zero carbon and ready for a low-carbon economy2 – where people see carbon as a valuable currency that is in short supply. Climate change is a major challenge facing the world. It will also have a profound effect on tourism. It is estimated that travel and tourism contribute between 4-6% of global emissions and that these are forecast to grow by up to 150% in the next 30 years.3 At the same time tourism is vulnerable to the effects of climate change as many holiday experiences are reliant on predictable weather patterns. What’s more, increasing oil prices are making tourism operations more expensive. So it makes sense for developments to reduce their carbon intensity and their reliance on fossil fuels.

To do this, tourism developments need to have a carbon strategy in place that follows the carbon management hierarchy: • Avoid: rethink your business – design out carbon and develop low-carbon processes and products; • Reduce: do whatever you do more efficiently; • Replace: substitute high-carbon energy sources with low or zero-carbon ones; • Offset: offset those emissions that can’t be eliminated by the above.

Actions at the top of the hierachy are more transformative and lasting in terms of reducing a company’s emissions baseline



A low-carbon economy is, quite simply, one in which the use of carbon has been constrained – either voluntarily or by obligation. See Forum For The Future’s publication Making Sense of a Low Carbon Economy Climate Change and Tourism: Responding to Global Challenges Advanced Summary, World Tourism Organization, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization, October 2007.


The design and positioning of the development is key to avoiding and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the outset. Both new-build sustainable tourism developments and retrofits need to be designed and constructed with zero-carbon living in mind. They should be intelligently sited and as energy efficient as possible. Focusing on avoidance at this stage is paramount. Natural shading could avoid the need for air conditioning for example, alongside the use of natural daylight to limit energy needed for lighting. Renewable energy will play a major part in zero-carbon development, whether sourced on or off-site. Ideally, some renewable energy would be generated on-site and factored into infrastructure development as early as possible. On-site generation contributes to a wider network of renewable energy sources, making the resort more energy secure while some resorts will even have the potential to benefit financially by selling energy back to the grid (or the local community). Where it is not possible to generate energy on-site, resorts should look for green tariffs that encourage the development of renewables in the area. Once up and running, sustainable tourism developments also need to be operated to be zero-carbon and benefit fully from the ‘avoid, reduce and replace’ elements that have been factored into the design. Energy efficient electrical appliances with activity sensors can be used. Regular maintenance and staff education will help minimise energy use, particularly in energy intensive areas like the kitchens and laundry rooms. Offsetting is placed at the bottom of the hierarchy on the basis that it does not directly reduce a development’s emissions baseline. Developments looking to go zero-carbon cannot simply turn to offsets – they must first look for actions further up the carbon management hierarchy as described above. There is lots of cynicism about companies buying their way out of environmental responsibility. It is also very difficult for developers to predict what the carbon intensity and carbon price will be on completion of a development. An early commitment to an offsetting strategy could be expensive.

Nevertheless, high-quality offsetting has a role to play in tackling climate change, especially where it is currently impossible to be zero-carbon without it. The type of offset is important. It needs to be ‘additional’ – something that would not happen anyway – and focus on setting up new renewable energy infrastructure. We recommend offsets that are certified to the Gold Standard (or, failing that, the Voluntary Carbon Standard) using offset providers that have signed up to the ICROA Code of Best Practice.4 The best offsets not only result in genuine emissions reductions, but can also have positive secondary benefits by providing employment, protecting biodiversity, or by increasing the reliability of electricity supply.

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The Best Western Hotel Victoria in Freiburg, Germany

is considered a zero-carbon hotel. The hotel has a mix of on-site renewable energy technology, solar water heating, and a wood pellet heating system to ensure there is sufficient hot water throughout the year. The on-site photovoltaic solar panels provide 25% of the hotel’s electricity needs and the rest is met by an ongoing investment in a local hydropower plant and purchasing green energy from the grid. Accor have set themselves a target of fitting 200

hotels with solar water-heating panels by 2010, which will produce 40% of domestic hot water. In 2004 Accor saved 1,120 MWh of energy by installing 2,370 square meters of solar heating panels on 28 hotels. By the end of 2007, the number of hotels equipped with solar panels for the production of domestic hot water reached 47, and the quantity of solar power used amounted to 1,796 MWh.

International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance


Image: Six Senses Resorts & Spas/Jorg Sundermann

5 6 7

Carbon neutrality by 2010. That’s the goal that Six

birds are threatened with extinction. The evidence shows that, alarmingly, “a sixth major extinction event” is currently underway. And that this time, unlike the previous five, it is primarily the result of human activities.5 The marine environment is also a critical part of the tourist attraction in many areas. Yet 40% of the world’s oceans are heavily affected by human activities. We’re polluting the oceans (for example land runoff of pollutants and nutrients into coastal waters), overfishing and removing, altering and destroying natural habitats. There is almost no part of the ocean that is not affected.6 So, whilst tourism is clearly not responsible for all of this, many tourism locations rely on pristine natural environments with diverse plant and wildlife to draw visitors in. Whatever the location, many tourists value wildflowers, great views, sea-life and bird song. At the very least, it makes sense that sustainable tourism developments ensure the local biodiversity is protected from the impacts of construction and visitors. In addition, as long as it is truly economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, tourism can offer a viable alternative income for communities living in areas where delicate ecosystems are threatened by the money that can be made from destroying them for short-term gain. Sustainable tourism is about recognising that wildlife and wild areas have a long-term monetary value. As the Lonely Planet guide Green Code points out “you can only kill a gorilla once, but if you can keep it alive, it can earn your country US$90,000 every year, year after year, through tourism”.7 A sustainable approach to tourism has helped Costa Rica turn the tide on forest degradation. It is one

Senses Resorts and Spas has set for Soneva Fushi (below), its flagship hotel in the Maldives. Six Senses has been monitoring and managing its energy use since 2006 and estimates a 50% carbon reduction between 2006-2008. A raft of initiatives have been put in place. For example the resort has installed a deep-sea water cooling system. For transport, it has fitted more efficient outboard motors to boats, switched to battery-operated golf buggies and provided guests with bicycles. The group has set up a scheme to offset carbon emissions from all guest flights, resort travel and operations. Set up with The Converging World, the non-profit programme is building wind turbines in South India. The Six Senses turbine is expected to generate US$2,127,000 worth of carbon credits over the next 20 years, with any surplus being invested in environmental and social projects.

Local biodiversity
Sustainable tourism developments protect and enhance local biodiversity. The grim reality is that globally, most ecosystems are becoming increasingly degraded, and it’s mainly down to us. According to the UN, species are becoming extinct a hundred times faster than the rate shown in the fossil record. Over 30% of amphibians, 23% of mammals and 12% of

of the few countries where forest cover is increasing – important for biodiversity and, critically, climate regulation. Sustainable developments will ensure that this opportunity is maximised and may even employ innovative financial instruments such as tariffs or bonds to protect the local area and provide returns to the local community.

Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4), United Nations Environment Programme, October 2007 A Global Map of Human Impact on Marine Ecosystems, The National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis Science, February 2008 Green Code: Experiences of a Lifetime, Lonely Planet, 2006


Measures to prevent degradation of critical species, communities or ecosystems include minimising disturbance such as noise, dust and destruction, during the construction or renovation phase. Where appropriate to the habitat, native planting and vegetation restoration can restore the natural balance of biodiversity. Vegetation can also provide flood or fire protection, which is increasingly important as our climate changes [see adaptation to climate change, page 31]. Developers and operators should not introduce any new species that might disrupt the local biodiversity balance. Invasive species often cause irreversible damage. Sustainable tourism developments need to protect particularly sensitive areas completely, working with the scientific and local communities. Visitor education on the importance and components of local biodiversity and conservation is key – and could add to the holiday experience. The responsibility for biodiversity goes beyond the borders of the resort and the immediate surrounding area. supplies that also protect biodiversity. Taking steps to work with local people to protect local fish stocks and identify opportunities for certification is a good approach, as is promoting local organic farming [see benefits to the local economy and community, page 23].

at the centre of its strategy. Since opening in 1995 the Duke’s has created a mosaic of woodland, scrub, grassland and open water habitats. The course has been designated a Listed Wildlife Site and has won a number of environmental awards such as the ‘Scottish Award for Environmental Excellence’ through its work with the Scottish Golf Environment Group.


The Al Maha desert resort and spa (below) is situated

in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Its owner, Emirates Hotels, has worked with the government of Dubai on a desert conservation programme to reintroduce indigenous plant and animal species to the region, many of which were endangered. It has successfully re-established valuable habitats that have been lost in many other parts of Dubai. Emirates Hotels was also instrumental in the region gaining National Park status.

Wilderness Safaris has been operating in southern

Africa for 25 years, existing first and foremost to protect wilderness and wildlife. Over the years, it has achieved a number of conservation successes. For example, through collaboration with the Botswana government, Wilderness Safaris has been working on the re-introduction of black and white rhinos into the wild. This has been hugely successful – the number of wild rhinos in Botswana has grown from none in 2001 to 45 in 2008.

Responsible sourcing of materials
Sustainable tourism developments ensure that materials are responsibly sourced, knowing their provenance from the beginning of the supply chain wherever possible. Globally, human consumption of resources significantly exceeds what the earth can provide. The resources we rely on (clean air and water, a stable climate, viable forests and fisheries) are being depleted at accelerating rates. As the tourism industry continues to grow it

Formally an agricultural site, the Duke’s Course

in St. Andrews aims to be an example of what golf course planning can achieve when conservation is


Image: Emirates, courtesy of

Developers and tour operators should seek to secure food

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contributes to the over-consumption of our earth’s resources. One of the key impacts of a resort is the materials and goods that it uses. This means taking a different approach to purchasing. Sustainable tourism developments need to prioritise the use of sustainable materials and substitute scarce raw materials for more abundant, sustainable sources. This includes using reclaimed or recycled materials where available, using renewable materials and prioritising the use of local supply to reduce transport impact and benefit the local community. This should apply to both materials for construction and for day-to-day operation. Responsible purchasing policies need to apply to large items such as furnishings right down to choice of cleaning product, paper and toiletries. Where appropriate a ‘service approach’ can reduce impact, for example focusing on comfort and light, rather than energy.

negative environmental impacts from the production and use of their products. One example of this commitment to responsible sourcing is the four million breakfasts served annually by Scandic, all of which are certified organic.

Protect water resources and water quality
Sustainable tourism developments abstract less water from fresh supplies than is replaced naturally, return water to the environment of a quality exceeding that encountered naturally, and crucially do not impact on the ability of local communities to meet their own water needs. Water is going to be a critical issue in the future of tourism, and more widely. Goldman Sachs has listed it as one of the five key global issues that will affect the economy. Water stress is a problem across much of the world. According to the United Nations Environment Programme “about one third of the world’s population lives in countries with moderate to high water stress with disproportionately high impacts on the poor.”8 Water stress occurs when more water is demanded than is available during a certain period, or when poor quality restricts its use. Climate change is likely to make this problem worse and will impact on different tourism destinations in different ways [see adaptation to climate change below, page 29].9 Many of the areas of the world affected by water stress are heavily dependent on the tourism industry. At the same time, tourists tend to use more water than people in the local community. An average tourist in Spain uses 440 litres of water a day, which rises up to 880 litres of water if you factor in filling up swimming pools, watering gardens and golf courses, compared to 250 litres of water a day for a Spanish city dweller.10 This inequity is problem enough – especially when it means that locals struggle to meet their basic water needs. It is also costing the industry money. In 2008, it has been reported that Barcelona is spending €22m importing shiploads of water to ensure that demands can be met.11

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Travelife is a collaboration of European tour operators

and associations (UK Federation of Tour Operators and Dutch, Belgium and German associations) working on a common approach in the industry towards sustainability. Tour operator suppliers have the opportunity to evaluate their own social and environmental management practices using a simple web-based system. Upon reaching a certain level of best practice, they can apply for bronze, silver or gold Travelife sustainability awards, which are then featured in the catalogues of tour operators. Tour operators can follow a training programme in sustainability management and can monitor their performance through the standardised reporting system for tour operators. Scandic requires all of its suppliers, whether they

supply centrally or locally, to sign a ‘supplier declaration’ stating that they operate according to a sustainability policy. It covers both environmental and social areas. Amongst other things, the declaration asks for practical examples of how suppliers are working to reduce the Simpson, M.C., Gossling, S., Scott, D., Hall, C.M. and Gladin. E. (2008) Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in the Tourism Sector 10 World Climate News, World Meteorological Organization, No. 27, June 2005 11



Water resources should be considered from the start of a development, particularly when placing water intensive features like swimming pools and golf courses. Developments in arid areas need to avoid the temptation to make the desert green and instead use approaches like natural rough and drought tolerant (indigenous) species. There are also energy and water efficient alternatives for swimming pools like natural bathing pools, which also enhance biodiversity.

Sandals Negril Beach Resort in Jamaica has been

managing its water use for a number of years. Measures to increase efficiency include using low-flush toilets, low-flow and aerated devices on taps, water-saving showerheads and a computerised leak monitoring system. In addition the thawed water from the icehouse is stored in fishponds and used for irrigating the grounds.


Hotel Dietlgut in Hinterstoder, Austria, abandoned its

It is critically important that sustainable tourism developments maximise water efficiency on site – during construction and in day-to-day resort management. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, such as installing water meters, use of grey water and recycling water to country specific standards and minimising the need for irrigation through design and innovation. Ideally resorts would be designed in a way that does not need additional provision of water. But desalination plants will be needed in some areas. Desalination is generally energy intensive so plants should be run on renewable energy.

conventional chlorinated pool in 1995 and commissioned a 900m natural open-air swimming pool. The pool system is made up of a regeneration pool into which the water from the swimming pool flows to be cleaned by the plants and bacteria to cleanliness levels that meet health and safety standards. The pool is heated by the sun in its shallows. The temperature is maintained between 22 and 30 degrees centigrade without any additional heating.

Zero waste
Sustainable tourism developments do not send any waste to landfill. Poor waste management can have far-reaching consequences in tourist destinations for humans, wildlife and the environment. According to a report from Greenpeace at least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of plastic marine debris including seabirds, turtles, seals, sea lions, whales and fish. Tourists who leave litter on the beach are cited as one of the sources of this debris.12 Waste elimination for sustainable tourism developments starts upfront at the design phase. Structures can be designed for flexible future use, configuration and recyclable dismantling. In addition sustainable waste management infrastructure should be designed into plans from the very beginning (e.g. natural wastewater management, composting and recycling points). During day-to-day resort management staff and guests should follow the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra, and compost all biodegradable waste on or off-site as


Given the dry climate of Cyprus, the Aliathon Holiday

Village is keenly aware of the need to conserve water and has implemented several water-saving measures. Water-saving aerators, dual flushes and efficient showerheads and taps have been installed throughout the complex. Toilets are flushed with lower-quality dam water and pool waste, rather than the treated water supplied by the municipality. Water use is monitored daily to identify any unusual activity such as leaks and housekeepers have been trained to detect toilet leaks. The Aliathon uses 44% less water than the efficiency benchmark established by the International Hotels Environment Initiative.

Allsopp, Michelle., Walters, Adam., Santillo, David., and Johnston, Paul., Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans, Greenpeace, November 2006



appropriate. In some destinations local facilities don’t make recycling easy so tour operators should aim for the best solution and then, with others, try to influence the development of a better infrastructure. A resort’s procurement policy should reflect the need to reduce waste and where possible should avoid buying products that cannot be recycled or composted. This will include working with suppliers to design out waste and reduce packaging. Where organic waste cannot be eliminated it can be used as a useful energy source through anaerobic digestion. Again visitor and staff education will be key to achieving

The Six Senses Soneva Kiri resort in Thailand is

working on several innovative programmes to turn waste into wealth. All liquid waste will be treated and used for garden watering, while solid waste will also go some way to improving the landscape through composting and fertilising. Used cooking oil will be converted in a biofuel plant for use in conventional engines to power the resort vehicles. To avoid the need for plastic bottled water, the resort is producing its own drinking water, by treating rain and bore water, a process which is already successful in sister resorts Soneva Fushi and Soneva Gili.


zero waste – and could have the added benefit of potentially changing people’s habits when they return home [see staff and visitor education, page 18].

Thirty years of tourism, 47 hotels, 72 lodges,

44 restaurants and 350 shops all took their toll on the beautiful beach of Kovalam (below) in south-west India. Tourist litter, coupled with a very laid back local attitude towards waste disposal, had resulted in some serious environmental and public health issues for the authorities to deal with. Recognising the potential of a zero waste programme, the authorities, with support from Greenpeace and local organisation Thanal, took several steps to re-examine waste production and disposal. Alongside raising public awareness and introducing waste segregation techniques, a community project emerged, which provides an income to local women creating various items from waste.


Five hotels in Hua Hin, Thailand, recognised the

benefits of composting for use in the hotel grounds. Waste separation systems were introduced and training sessions educated the hotel staff in composting techniques. One hotel manager used proceeds from the sale of the recyclable waste to support a low-interest fund for hotel staff. Staff could then borrow money for personal purposes, such as healthcare and education. These loans have created an incentive for staff involvement in waste management practices in the hotel.


The Hilton Tokyo Bay hotel has been managing its

waste since 1998. By 2004 it had increased its rate of recycling to 58.2%, saving more than 50 million Yen. The hotel achieved this by composting, using reusable containers and actively looking for ways to recycle more materials. It has also found ways to cut down on waste; the hotel’s engineers worked with the housekeepers to design an innovative gadget that winds together unused toilet tissue from rolls too small to put in guest bathrooms, diverting the tissue from landfill. Waste is divided into sixteen kinds, including six different kinds of paper waste. Vendors now remove paper waste free-ofcharge due to the rising cost of recycled paper.

Jamieson, Walter., Kelovkar, Amit., Sunalai, Pawinee., and Mandki, Pallavi, A Manual for Water and Waste Management, United Nations


3 people

Helping staff and guests to fulfill their potential


Employee development
Sustainable tourism developments develop local staff for long-term employment opportunities and career progression. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism employs approximately 231 million people worldwide.14 Tourism in developing countries is growing year-on-year, where it has the potential to lift millions out of poverty [see pro poor tourism, page 24]. According to the World Tourism Organization “developing countries are attracting an increasing share of global international tourist arrivals up from 20.8% in 1973 to 42% in 2000”.15 It goes without saying that, wherever a tourism business is based, employers should ensure their staff are paid a fair wage and have varied and satisfying work. During construction and operation sustainable tourism developments should have exemplary standards on health and safety [see employee, visitor and local community wellbeing, page 17]. There should also be general best practice employment policies and practices such as diversity policies, health promotion, regular staff consultation (including employee surveys) and equal access to training. To have the most positive impact on employee work-life balance, staff accommodation and working practices need to encourage the full diversity of family living. The location of tourism developments also plays its part. Developing pristine desert islands not only has an environmental impact, but also moves employees away from their communities. Many tourism developments rely on seasonal, casual cheap labour. Sustainable tourism developments should invest in the long-term employment needs of their staff. The long-term cost savings on repeat training and the benefits of having local staff with local knowledge are obvious. In addition local recruitment will maximise the benefit to the local community. For any staff that are not from the local area, efforts should be made to integrate employees into the local community.

In addition, sustainable tourism developments should enable and encourage staff to work efficiently with a low impact on the environment [see staff and visitor education below].


15 China%E2%80%99s_Travel__and_Tourism/, World Travel & Tourism Council, 2008 Tourism and Poverty Alleviation, World Tourism Organization, Madrid, 2002

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Hotel du Vin has successfully implemented a series

of policies designed to increase staff satisfaction and benefit the business. Development of existing staff is at the heart of the company’s policies; career development opportunities have led to an improvement in staff turnover and a halving of recruitment costs. 80% of management is home grown. Multi-skilling and flexible working practices have cut the average working week from 55 to 40 hours per week. Hotel du Vin was the winner of Best Places to Work in Hospitality 2008. Hog Hollow country lodge in South Africa has made

a commitment to the transformation and employment of previously disadvantaged people and only employs people from the local area. Each new staff member is put through a rigorous training programme consisting of accredited courses in various aspects of the hospitality industry. This ensures that the resort meets and exceeds international standards of service excellence. Many of the staff have been with the lodge for several years, so it’s often the same friendly faces that welcome guests back on their return.


Employee, visitor and local community wellbeing
Sustainable tourism developments are safe places to be, have happy, healthy employees and protect the local community from exploitation. Health and safety for staff and guests need to be considered for the whole lifetime of a tourism development – from construction through to operation. Health and safety records are clearly a crucial issue for attracting and retaining staff. It is something that is taken as a given by guests – until anything goes wrong – after which the reputational costs are high. As many tourism developments are in areas where disease is rife, this has implications for employment (see Serena Hotels case study below). Working with governments or local NGOs to improve employee health can bring obvious and immediate benefits.

Sustainable tourism developments can be enjoyed by everyone. Making sure a tourism development is accessible by as many people as possible makes sound business sense. The design and operation of a resort needs to cater for everyone, regardless of age, gender, disability or sexual orientation. Facilities, goods and services should also be available to the local community. This level of inclusivity can be a source of tension, however, for luxury or more exclusive resorts. Even in the most exclusive resorts there should be scope for developing a pricing strategy that enables locals to enjoy some of the facilities. This will contribute to a greater sense of community and a more authentic holiday experience. This could also provide an alternative income during any low seasons, and help to diversify income to help secure against any financial downturns.

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The Serena Hotels Group is the largest hotel chain in


east Africa with 2300 employees. Following the deaths of several hotel employees of AIDS in the late 90s, the chain developed an HIV workplace and community programme and trained 175 wellness champions to educate staff. Serena Hotels also provides voluntary HIV counselling, testing and free contraceptives. As a result, AIDS-related deaths amongst employees have declined and the programme has been expanded to provide advice on a range of issues such as drugs, alcohol, sexual harassment, violence and other diseases.16 Sexual exploitation is undeniably the dark side of

Scandic Hotels aims to make all of its guests’ stays

as easy as possible. To help achieve this it has an accessibility standard for all hotels with 93 commitments, 77 of which are compulsory. These include walking stick holders and hearing loops in reception, shower stools and vibrating alarm clocks in disabled rooms and gluten and lactose-free bread at breakfast.

global tourism. UK-based children’s rights organisation ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) provides training to the travel and tourism industry on developing policy and practical measures to protect children from sexual exploitation. Training is available to hotels, tour operators, travel agents and others interested in ethical and sustainable tourism.

AIDS is Everybody’s Business. UNAIDS and Business: Working Together, UNAIDS Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, 2007


Image: Alan Keohane


Run by the Berber people of Morocco, the Kasbah

Staff are the interface between the resort and visitors, so their enthusiasm for reducing their impacts will encourage others to do the same. Getting staff involved in sustainability initiatives is the key to success. Integrating sustainability responsibilities into job roles and performance reviews, practical guidance and training, encouraging staff to come up with sustainability initiatives of their own via competitions and other means, all play their part.

du Toubkal hotel (below) is a mountain resort catering for a range of guests. Accommodation ranges from basic salons for multiple-occupancy to en-suite rooms in the gardens. The Kasbah du Toubkal resort can cater for all levels of accessibility needs including serious hikers and leisurely strollers.

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Guests of the Caiman Ecological Refuge (CER) are

never far from the wildlife of the Brazilian Pantanal. Since 1987, the owner has been implementing a sustainable development programme to promote the conservation of the area, focusing on three research projects: the Blue-fronted parrot, the Hyacinth Macaw and the Jaguar. The owner also created a private Reserve of Natural Patrimony encompassing 5,600 ha (13,837 acres) to preserve fauna and flora, and the Environmental Interpretation Centre, with a photographic exhibition to educate visitors about the region. Guests staying at the Caiman Lodge can learn more about all these projects on tours with bilingual naturalist leaders and local guides, who also have extensive knowledge about the ecosystems of the surrounding area. Guests at the Orchid Hotel, Mumbai, are encouraged

to get involved in saving energy by pushing the ‘green button’ on the control panel in their guest

Staff and visitor education
Sustainable tourism developments help staff and visitors change their behaviour to live more sustainably. As highlighted throughout this report, sustainable tourism developments have a unique opportunity to educate guests about sustainable living. By being part of a development with sustainability at its heart, guests can see first hand that sustainability needn’t mean sacrifice and this may inspire them to make changes in their everyday lives.

room, automatically reducing the air conditioning by two degrees. The hotel calculates the energy saving associated to this simple action and converts it to a financial saving, displayed on the guest’s bill. Whilst the guest’s voluntary participation is commemorated with a certificate at the end of their stay, the hotel commits to funding local environmental programmes with the financial saving.


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The Aspen Skiing Company runs a ‘save snow’

Relaxation and fun
Sustainable tourism developments are places to unwind, relax and have a good time – visitors and staff enjoy being there and their well-being is actively promoted. We live in a world where it sometimes seems as if happiness and well-being are in short supply. There is evidence that as we get richer as nations, we aren’t getting any happier. According to a BBC poll in 2006, Britain is less happy than in the 1950s – despite the fact that we are three times richer. The proportion of people saying they are “very happy” had fallen from 52% in 1957 to just 36%.17 Tourism plays an important part in taking a break from the everyday working life and contributes to general well-being. At the same time we’re beginning to rethink what we look for in a holiday and even what ‘luxury’ means. Increasingly luxury is less about ostentatious wealth. According to the Future Foundation, “today’s luxury traveller looks for an experience that is unique and individual, without sacrificing the comforts of everyday living”.18 As a recent report for Defra showed, currently the majority of people do not tend to think about the environment when they make their holiday choices.19 Also, people don’t like to think about the environment, recycling, social impacts and the like while they are on holiday. In a survey conducted by First Choice Holidays in 2005, 80% of the people surveyed claimed to recycle at home, but only 50% would be prepared to do so on holiday.20 The focus for any break from everyday lives is about hedonism and escapism. On the one hand this reduces our sense of responsibility whilst on holiday. On the other, we may be more receptive to new ideas. In addition, tourism often takes place in beautiful environments, which presents a valuable opportunity to increase the awareness of guests to issues of sustainability [see staff and visitor education, page 18]. So, the challenge and opportunity for sustainable tourism developments is to make sustainable behaviour easy and enjoyable.

campaign educating its visitors on the action they can take to cut carbon and that way safeguard their enjoyment of snowsports in the future. Activities range from encouraging visitors to take political action to promoting the use of green armbands on the slopes to show solidarity. As well as providing online energy saving tips, the Aspen Skiing Company sent 40,000 low-energy light bulbs to its visitors, packaged with information on climate change. The Future of Luxury Travel, Future Foundation, December 2005 19 Miller, G., Rathouse, K., Scarles, C., Holmes, K. and Tribe, J. ‘Public understanding of sustainable leisure and tourism: A report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ University of Surrey, Defra, London, 2007 20 Responsible Tourism – who cares?, First Choice, 2005


4 community
A low carbon economy is, quite simply, Building strong one in which the use of carbon has been constrained – either voluntarily or by obligation. See Forum For The Future’s publication ‘Making links Sense of a Low Carbon Economy’ ‘Climate Change and Tourism: Responding to Global Challenges’ Advanced Summary, World Tourism Organization, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteowith the October 2007 rological Organization, local community


Respect cultural heritage
Sustainable tourism developments respect local culture and are sensitive to local customs. By their very nature, tourism developments attract visitors from across the globe with different cultural norms and behaviours. It is important to ensure that guests (and staff) respect local traditions, religions and cultural sensitivities. Indeed, there is increasing evidence that people are seeking out these differences. Cultural tourism is on the increase and more and more holidaymakers are looking to experience ‘authentic’ holidays where local food is served, where the beaches are unspoilt, or where English isn’t routinely spoken. Protecting the local culture by promoting local crafts and festivals can contribute to enhancing the authentic holiday experience. At the design stage sustainable tourism developments should replicate local design and architecture, while protecting and incorporating archaeological features into the plans. This can also play an important part in reviving local traditional methods of building and design that might otherwise be lost.

as it was designed in close co-operation with the local chief and community. The museum is an extension of this existing collaboration, making the both the Park and Eco-Museum an integral part of the local community.21


Castello di Spannocchia is part of a centuries old

organic agricultural estate in central Tuscany. The building’s conservation efforts focus on architectural preservation and the use of traditional materials and methods. Internally, the rooms of the villa are being restored to their original 18th and 19th century styles using natural pigment-based paints, restoring or replicating the original uncovered designs. The property is also a diversified organic farm and educational centre, hosting a range of enrichment programmes focused on Tuscan culture and history, and a residential farm internship programme.

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A partnership between the owners of the Kasbah de

Toubkal hotel and the local Berber community is at the heart of this enterprise. The hotel was restored by local builders and craftsmen using only traditional methods, and is furnished with the work of local artisans. It is managed and staffed by local Berber people and the local community is paid a levy from the takings to spend on community projects. The Lope National Park in the east African country

of Gabon is home to an Eco-Museum, which is more than just a stopping point for tourists. It is also about providing a space to help local tribal populations preserve their traditions and cultural identity. In fact, the National Park itself was also created with this in mind

A low carbon economy is, quite simply, one in which the use of carbon has been constrained – either voluntarily or by obligation. See Forum For The Future’s publication ‘Making Sense of a Low Carbon Economy’ ‘Climate Change and Tourism: Responding to Global Challenges’ Advanced Summary, World Tourism Organization, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteo21 Chehoski, Eric., Going Back to Their rological Organization, October 2007 Roots, Gabon, Summer 2006

17 21

Involving and enhancing the local community
Sustainable tourism developments are part of the local community. Once pristine locations around the world are becoming so overdeveloped and overcrowded that they are no longer pleasant places to visit. Overdeveloped regions are increasingly losing out to less developed destinations. Figures released by the Canaries government reveal that in 2006, the number of visitors to the lesser developed of the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura, increased by 8% compared to 3.39% for Tenerife and 1.68% for Gran Canaria.

To ensure that tourism developments continue to engage with all key stakeholders, people from the local community can be involved in the governance structures for the resort. This can bring lasting reputational gains, licence to operate and potential cost savings.


Tribewanted is a unique community tourism project

that is simultaneously based on Vorovoro Island, Fiji and online. Started in April 2006, the online tribe is made up of over 1500 members from 35 countries, 500 of which have already visited Fiji. As well as a virtual space, this online social network has a real project in the South Pacific where Tribewanted members live alongside a small indigenous Mali community on the island of Vorovoro, helping to build a simple sustainable village during their one to 12 week stay. Members have debated and voted on how the online and on-island communities should be structured. At the end of this innovative and experimental project, the Fijian chief and landowner, Tui Mali, will decide the future of Vorovoro.

Far from being overdeveloped blots on the landscape, sustainable tourism developments should actually enhance the local area, foster involvement in community life, and ensure that they are good neighbours. This includes consulting with local stakeholders during the design and planning stage to take their needs into account upfront, and to respond to any concerns. This could have a knock-on benefit for future relationships with the local community, and help to create innovative solutions to avoiding overdevelopment. During construction, being a good neighbour includes limiting noise and congestion, and controlling air quality issues. During the day-to-day operation of a resort, many things can be done to build strong links with the local community. As well as employing local staff, sustainable tourism developments should make facilities available to the local community, for example, opening up conference rooms out of peak season for local group meetings, making facilities available for IT or sports for local people. Developments can be operated with a holistic management plan that incorporates sustainability into the day-to-day running of the resort.



The founders of Guludo Beach Lodge in Mozambique

forged a partnership with the local community right from the start. On the very first day they stepped onto the beach and realised its potential, they held a meeting with the Guludo community to talk about the idea of a lodge. Alleviating poverty in the local community has remained at the heart of the development and operation of the lodge. More than 80% of the lodge’s expenditure, from construction to operation, stays within a five km radius.


Benefits to the local economy and community
Sustainable tourism developments benefit the local economy and prioritise the use of local goods and services. Many tourism developments across the world operate as all inclusive, closed-gate communities, with a limited amount of the revenue generated from tourism activities flowing back to the host community. Several steps can be taken to ensure the local economy gets the maximum benefit possible from hosting a tourism development. At the design phase, investment in sustainable infrastructure within and beyond the project area will provide long-term benefits for local economies. During construction, the employment of local architects and builders and the purchasing of local building materials are crucial for the support of local supply chains. Alongside sourcing local expertise and materials, sustainable tourism destinations should ensure that local people are employed as guides or in other roles. They can lead the way in paying above-average wages and providing training. Providing market space for local goods and handicrafts can encourage local enterprise, for example The Banyan Tree in Phuket, Thailand, has constructed a food centre where the local hawkers and traders can operate. According to the Overseas Development Institute, between one quarter and a half of tourist spending can reach the poor from expenditure on shopping (particularly handicrafts); local transport and excursions; and restaurants (if supplies are purchased locally).23 There is also a key role for developments in encouraging best practice with local suppliers, for example supporting local farmers to go organic and fair trade, and stimulating efficient water management. As well as ensuring the local community gets maximum benefit from the resort, this will bring carbon savings from avoided transport.

It could also help secure supply chains from the future impacts of climate change, and potentially translate into cost savings as fuel prices rise. Operating through local tourist operators will help keep benefits local and, although it might seem counter intuitive at first, sustainable tourism developments should also invest in local enterprises. Encouraging local (and even rival) businesses to develop sustainably will help to promote a flourishing local economy, ensure the local community does not become too dependent on the resort, and can effectively function out-of-season.


Ashley, Caroline., and Mitchell, Jonathan, Assessing how tourism revenues reach the poor, Overseas Development Institute, June 2007


The Kapawi Ecolodge opened in 1996 as a

partnership between Canodros, an Ecuadorian tourist company, and the indigenous Achuar people. Each partner shared a vision of building an economically sustainable project with a plan to transfer the management of the project to the Achuar over the years. At the beginning of 2008 total ownership and responsibility for the operation of Kapawi Ecology and Reserve passed to the Achuar people. The local communities also benefit by selling products and services to the lodge, their main source of income.


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Communities in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve,

Pro-poor tourism
In September 2005, the World Tourism Organization issued a declaration on tourism and the Millennium Development Goals. It states that the tourism sector can make a substantially greater contribution to poverty alleviation, economic growth, sustainable development, environmental conservation, inter-cultural understanding and peace among nations. The declaration called on the UN as well as governments, international and bilateral development assistance agencies, financial institutions, private corporations, NGOs and other interested parties to “Fully recognize tourism, when sustainably developed and managed, as an effective tool to realize the Millennium Development Goals – especially poverty alleviation”. Not many mainstream tourism developments are created with poverty alleviation as a main priority. Yet, the economic benefits of tourism are often cited and tourism generates over 10% of world GDP. 24 There is some concern, however, that much of this benefit never makes it to the local host communities – even when it comes down to services provided at the destination. At the very least there is little evidence of exactly how much money reaches the local economy from mainstream tourism. Pro-poor tourism is tourism that results in increased net benefits for poor people.25 Many of the countries in which tourism is an important economic sector are among the poorest and least developed in the world. Support for local businesses, training up local unskilled or semi-skilled workers and local sourcing of products can all help to boost the local economy and improve the quality of the holiday experience – win-win solutions. One of the steps to achieving this will be for sustainable tourism developments to have a fully transparent supply chain – knowing where all materials come from and ensuring they are responsibly sourced, with maximum benefit (including fair wages) for producers. There will need to be deliberate strategies in place for working with suppliers to make improvements.

Kenya, are now benefiting from an 800% increase in tourism revenue compared to previous years. With continued support from The Travel Foundation, responsible tourism consultancy, Tribal Voice Communications, has worked to ensure the Maasai now receive 100% of tour fees from lodge-generated business and 75% of the revenue generated by tour operators through the Kenya Association of Tour Operators. Whereas in the past driver guides acquired the majority of tourist revenue for cultural tours, the Maasai can now look forward to a sustainable future through tourism. Tourists travelling through Central America are

being encouraged to visit the remote Mosquito Coast in Honduras, thanks to an alliance of five indigenous communities and RARE, an international conservation organisation which works with local villagers. This community-based tourism project has already created 150 jobs, supporting more than 750 family members, with the majority of the income generated staying with the communities involved. The “La Ruta Moskitia” alliance offers tourists a unique insight into this undeveloped region, with jungle-trekking, bird-watching tours and authentic cultural exchange, as determined by the indigenous communities themselves. In Tobago, The Travel Foundation is working

closely with local farmers and the tourism industry to restore the country’s agricultural economy and reduce its dependency on imports. The ‘Adopt a Farmer’ programme is helping Tobago’s farmers supply fresh, locally grown produce directly to hotels at the right quantity, quality and price. This arrangement has led to farmers earning 30-100% more and allowed them to grow their businesses. So far, 20 farmers and their families have supplied hotels with local produce worth over TT$260,000 (£26,000). China%E2%80%99s_Travel __and_Tourism/, World Travel & Tourism Council, 2008


5 infrastructure
Creating a built environment that supports sustainable living



Innovative design
Sustainable tourism developments use innovative design to make sustainable living a reality. To be able to holiday in the future within environmental limits and to the same, if not improved, standard as today, entails making changes that do not compromise on the quality or enjoyment of the holiday experience. This will require cutting edge innovation. Sustainable tourism developments need to lead in this new thinking and develop revolutionary new ways of holidaying. But they also need to apply tried and tested techniques such as using local architectural practices to reduce the need for artificial cooling. Sustainable tourism developments will use innovative design to avoid and reduce energy consumption, design out waste and help make sustainability easy to achieve for guests and staff. Buildings that are at the real cutting edge of design can become educational in themselves – promoting sustainable living as aspirational. The use of the latest technological solutions, especially around energy saving and generation, also need to be given priority.

One of the key things that existing resorts can do to reduce their carbon emissions is encourage people to stay longer [see integrated transport and logistics, page 30]. This might involve developments looking for ways to enhance their information and communication technology facilities for example, which enables guests to stay up-to-date with events back home – particularly in the workplace.


At Whitepod in Switzerland, guests stay in ‘pods’

(below) raised from the ground by wooden platforms designed to leave no trace. When they are taken down at the end of the season the idea is that you wouldn’t know that they had ever been there. White covers in winter and green in summer help them to blend into the surrounding alpine terrain. Wood burning stoves simply add to the relaxing ambience.



Green building
Sustainable tourism developments are built to the highest environmental standards. Research from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) shows that transport aside, accommodation accounts for 21% of the CO2 emissions from tourism. Inefficient buildings will also require

The Six Senses Soneva Kiri Eco-suite on the

island of Ko Kut in Thailand (below) combines luxury accommodation with absolute minimal impact on the environment. The zero emissions villa has been built using recycled materials, Forestry Stewardship Council certified pine, and reclaimed teak. The use of natural building techniques and non-toxic adhesives and wood treatments has meant no need for concrete or cement. A green roof not only provides a home for native flora but also helps control storm water run-off, and skylights and state-of-the-art LEDs provide lighting. Energy will soon be produced via a wind turbine, solar panels and a micro-hydro system using waste water from the restaurant. Even grey water from the shower is being recycled to irrigate the bamboo hedges.

more energy to heat (or cool). Therefore investing upfront to ensure that buildings are designed to be as efficient as possible makes sound business sense when operating costs are considered. Although it can be more costly, retrofitting existing tourism developments to be more efficient can also save money in the long-term. According to the BRE Trust, the energy and water saving measures they identified for an air conditioned office (including rain water recycling, building user guides and increasing insulation thickness), led to in-use cost savings of 26% and 55% respectively throughout the life of the building.27 Sustainable tourism developments should be designed to high standards, such as BREEAM Excellent.28 They should also use bioclimatic design, for example buildings that are sited to take advantage of natural features like breezes or shading to enable energy saving. Infrastructure needs to also be designed for low energy use by being sited to minimise transport distances between accommodation and key services, for example, in order to reduce the need to travel.

The Adrère Amellal Oasis ecolodge in Siwa, Egypt,

The Travel Foundation has developed Sustainable

uses traditional Siwan architecture to limit its impact on the environment. It has been built using local, renewable materials such as palm roofing and kershef, a mixture of local rock salt and mud, used to build the walls. The hotel was designed to blend in with the landscape and has a natural ventilation system. Strategic positioning of doors and windows make the most of desert breezes so that air conditioning is not required.

Tourism is Good for Business, a toolkit for accommodation providers and guidelines to help tourism developments take small steps towards becoming more efficient. According to The Travel Foundation, by following the guidelines hotels can save up to 25% on water and energy costs. The free pack includes posters and training materials for staff, tailored to different departments and available in several languages.

Climate Change and Tourism: Responding to Global Challenges, Advanced Summary, October 2007, World Tourism Organization, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization Sweett, Cyril, BRE Centre for Sustainable Construction and BRE Trust, Putting a Price on Sustainability, May 2005 28
26 27


Image: Six Senses Resorts & Spas/Kiattipong Panchee



Integrated transport and logistics
Sustainable tourism developments have smart logistics and encourage people to travel to and from the resort in the most sustainable way possible. By far the largest single carbon impact of overseas holidays is air transport to and from resorts. Data from the UNWTO analysed the contribution of various tourism subsectors to CO2 emissions. It shows that the 17% of aviation-based tourist trips contribute to 40% of global tourism related CO2 emissions. In contrast, trips by coach and rail account for 34% of all trips, but contribute only 13% of CO2 emissions.

visitors to fly with airlines operating the most efficient fleets. Tourism developments should also develop a ‘green travel plan’ including, for example, centralised guest collection from arrival/departure ports in efficient, low-carbon transport. Once guests have arrived, much can be done to reduce transport-related carbon emissions in resorts. Tourism developments should discourage guests from hiring private vehicles (by, for example, limiting parking) and instead offer incentives for the use of public transport and/or bikes. Where cars are a necessity, resorts should encourage low-emission vehicles by, for example, supporting hybrid car-hire companies. Other transport issues to consider include transporting materials and people to and around the site as efficiently as possible during the construction phase, green travel plans for staff, and low-carbon transport for excursions.

Ideally, to be most successful at reducing this impact, tourism developments should avoid the need for flights altogether by, for example, appealing to a domestic market, or by providing alternative, more sustainable transport options like rail. Where air transport is unavoidable, a resort can significantly reduce its carbon footprint by encouraging guests to stay longer. This maintains occupancy rates, but reduces the number of visitors overall, minimising the number of flights taken. Resorts can also encourage


Climate Change and Tourism: Responding to Global Challenges, Advanced Summary, October 2007, World Tourism Organization, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization


Positive contribution to local infrastructure
Sustainable tourism developments enhance the infrastructure in the local community in the most sustainable way. Tourism developments are often in poor countries with inadequate infrastructure. Although tourism is often blamed for competing with local communities for water, land, and coastline, they can also gain from opportunities for infrastructure development.

Adaptation to climate change
Sustainable tourism developments are prepared for the future impacts of climate change. Tourism destinations across the world will be seriously impacted by climate change. A one to two degree temperature rise, as predicted by many, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will have far-reaching consequences. Traditional holiday seasons might change as destinations become uncomfortably hot in summer, or inaccessible due to unpredictable weather, storms, flooding or drought. Snow lines will rise and delicate coral reef systems will die. Rising sea levels mean that certain locations such as the Maldives, will continue to disappear. Elsewhere, the principal climate threats to tourism are likely to include increasing water scarcity as a result of soaring temperatures.31 Resorts in the future will have to be designed and built to be prepared for unpredictable weather, including longer dry spells, flash flooding, more powerful storms, and rising sea levels.

To make the most positive contribution to the local community it is important to consult local stakeholders on their needs early in the design stage. This could also include providing support for local schools and/or healthcare and enabling sustainable mobility.

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30 31

The philosophy of Borana Lodge in Kenya is about

sharing its wealth with surrounding communities. The lodge and its ranch employ around 200 people and buy locally to boost the local economy. Borana supports a number of primary schools in the area, providing construction and equipment support, as well as some teacher accommodation. Its mobile medical clinic works in the community five days a week and 16 employees with disabilities work in its tannery and leather workshop. The Samba Foundation, co-founded by the Nihiwatu


A range of government departments and tourism

businesses in Fiji have joined forces to cope with the cyclones and storms that cause structural damage and shoreline erosion in its coastal resorts. Resorts are built 2.6m above the average sea level, 30m off the high tide mark, and can also withstand strong winds. Many businesses have a direct line to the Meteorological Service for early warnings and have evacuation plans and supplies in place.32

resort in Indonesia, works to benefit the surrounding Sumbanese communities. Through its philanthropic programmes 200 villages now have clean drinking water, 15,000 people have access to medical clinics, 6,000 people sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets, 2,000 children are equipped with all the school supplies they need and six schools have been renovated or completely rebuilt, and are now safe venues for learning.

Ashley, Caroline and Mitchell, Jonathan, Can tourism accelerate pro-poor growth in Africa? Overseas Development Institute, 2005 AMcGuire, Bill, Holiday 2030, Benfield-UCL Hazard Research Centre, September 2007 32 Simpson, M.C., Gossling, S., Scott, D., Hall, C.M. and Gladin. E. (2008) Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in the Tourism Sector: Frameworks, Tools and Practices, UNEP, University of Oxford, UNWTO, WMO: Paris, France 33 ibid


Diminishing natural snowfall means that ski resorts

in New England are looking at new ways to enhance their destinations. New ski runs are being developed on higher, north-facing slopes and resorts are making the most of landscaping and slope contouring, but snowmaking remains a vital aspect of resorts. Many have diversified to include non-skiing activities, such as health spas and ice-skating, and are open for business all year round providing conference facilities or nonwinter activities.33


6 finance
Creating long-term financial value



Returns to shareholders
Sustainable tourism developments are a good long-term investment. Any business investment needs to deliver good returns to its investors. More and more mainstream investors are taking sustainability considerations into their investment decisions. For example, DTZ, one of the world’s largest real estate advisors, recently launched Sustento, a sustainable investment fund aimed at investors wishing to future-proof investment in new and existing commercial property across Europe. The fund will seek to invest in buildings designed to high environmental standards, and will encourage more sustainable behaviour by tenants via financial incentives such as ‘green leases’. Fifty leading US and European institutional investors managing over $1.75 trillion in assets recently signed up to and released a Climate Change Action Plan. The Action Plan was in part put together in response to investors demanding greater scrutiny in assessing the financial risks and opportunities posed by climate change. Notably, investors were calling for policy action from governments that would deliver a 90% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

The Sheraton Rittenhouse Hotel was the first eco-

hotel to be established in the US. The Hotel has been recognised for a variety of energy saving initiatives, including state of the art heating and cooling processes, recycling water systems, staff training in environmental maintenance techniques, energy efficient windows and a 40-foot bamboo plant that is used in purifying the hotel air. Within its first year of operation the hotel saved a total of $65,000 and in 2007, the Hotel made a 78% saving in energy consumption.


Our Planet Retreats provides the opportunity for

people to own part of their very own ‘Sphere’ – unusual tourist accommodation located in tree canopies. People who contribute to the cost of a $55,000 Eco-Retreat, either through investments from as little as $30, or by buying a full Sphere, can expect a share of 75% of the profits. Local people can also invest in the retreats and the organisation aims to involve them in other aspects of the experience, such as providing tourists with local culinary delights. Our Planet Retreats is also committed to helping solve local environmental problems.

Sustainable tourism should be about ensuring the longterm successes of any tourism development. Tourism is so closely tied to the natural environment and the vibrancy of the local community, that protecting and investing in them makes sound business sense. In addition, many of the energy saving initiatives will also save money through reduced energy bills – creating winwin opportunities for the environment and investors.


Investor Network on Climate Risk, February 2008



Responsible marketing
Sustainable tourism developments promote their sustainability credentials and encourage other businesses to do the same. Sustainable tourism developments should make sure that they can back up their sustainability claims. There are a variety of eco tourism and/or sustainable tourism schemes that can provide independent, credible assurance to guests that where they are staying meets a minimum sustainability criteria. Their various labels, strap lines and awards can then be used to promote the development. Ultimately, however, only a small (but growing) customer base will be solely interested in a development’s sustainability credentials. For the rest, a sustainable resort development will need to promote its other qualities – luxury, quality, relaxation and/or fun – and ensure that it delivers all these things in a sustainable way. Sustainable tourism developments should also play their part in promoting their success and encouraging other businesses to follow suit and become more sustainable. This includes pushing for local and national quality schemes to include sustainability criteria to help improve the overall sustainability performance of the industry.

The Greenbox (below) is Ireland’s first integrated

ecotourism destination. The unspoilt nature of the Greenbox region has contributed to attracting a high concentration of ‘green’ and ecotourism operators to the region – now numbering more than 120. To strengthen the Greenbox brand they have developed a quality Ecotourism label for tourism providers and also use the EU Flower Eco-label to raise standards in accommodation across the region. Key strengths of the project, which includes both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, are training, marketing, events and capacity building.

of points in the assessment process are able to use the Green Leaf symbol in their advertisements in the New Forest Where to Stay guide and website.




The New Forest has been very successful at

promoting its Green Leaf Tourism Scheme, a process for businesses and communities wanting to develop more socially and environmentally responsible forms of operations. Participants annually assess their progress in such things as car-free visitor programmes, the establishment of Green Staff teams, and the purchase and use of New Forest Marque food and goods which have been grown, reared, caught, brewed or produced in the New Forest. Businesses that reach a certain number


Long-term vision and commitment
Sustainable tourism developments have a long-term vision and commitment to the local area. The future is uncertain. Global issues such as shifting demographics, climate change and changing customer preferences mean that to be sustainable in the future businesses have to be prepared to change. One way to approach this is to build a vision of a sustainable future – what would your operation look like if it was as sustainable as possible? How would it respond to future factors? What changes do you need to make now to make a sustainable future a reality?

The signing of a Declaration of Commitment by

cruise companies, NGOs and government in Belize has recognised the need for more stringent environmental measures to deal with the growing numbers of tourists. Belize is one of the fastest growing cruise destinations in the western Caribbean and is home to part of the Mesoamerican reef, which is one of the most endangered in the world. The Declaration commits to enhancing marine management and regulation in the area and promoting conservation awareness about Belize amongst cruise passengers.


During the development of the Corbett National Park

in northern India (below), community-based tourism plans were developed for each of the four local villages. They used a ‘4 D Cycle’ – first Discovering what is successful, what is working, what the local community is proud of and would like to share with tourists. Next was Dreaming – creating a vision of their future. This was followed by Designing through feasibility studies and development of action plans. The final stage of the cycle was Delivering the plans. Each community tourism plan took six to eight months to prepare and involved around ten village meetings.

Using innovative financial instruments to value culture and the environment
As this report highlights, tourism makes a significant economic contribution. It also presents an opportunity to value assets that are not always given a financial value. For instance, coral reefs in the Caribbean have been estimated to be worth from $2,000 a year in remote areas to $1 million beside a tourist resort where they draw scuba divers.35 This fragile asset is in desperate need of saving. In the last 50 years many Caribbean reefs have lost up to 80% of their coral cover. 36 There are mounting examples of innovative ways of valuing natural assets that can be applied to tourism, for example the Lonely Planet’s estimated value of gorilla populations cited on page nine. Sustainable tourism developments are beginning to find ways to use techniques such as forest-backed bonds, wildlife premiums and carbon taxes to ensure that their products are protected and benefit people now and in the future. As natural assets become even more endangered and in need of protection, more instances of placing financial values on these assets should be encouraged.

Wells, Sue., Ravilious, Corinna., and Corcoran, Emily, In the Front line – Shoreline protection and other ecosystem services from mangroves and coral reefs, United Nations Environment Programme, the International Action Network on Coral Reefs and the World Conservation Union, January 2006 36 A World of Science, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Vol. 6, No. 2 April – June 2008


7 creating sustainable destinations
This report shows that sustainable tourism is achievable, desirable and profitable if you get it right. There is a robust business case for taking a sustainable approach – from cost savings to market advantage. Most of the companies in this report are becoming more sustainable not because they’re altruistic, but because it makes good business sense. The hallmarks are a guide for anyone wanting to create a sustainable destination. They should be used to shape overarching vision and strategy. Not every hallmark will necessarily be relevant for every destination but taking all the five capitals into account is a must. A strong vision based on these guidelines will drive a more sustainable outcome and elicit a different, more future-proofed approach. They can also be complimented by existing standards and guidelines, many of which are listed in section eight. No one player can create a sustainable destination. Collaboration is needed to make it happen – between government, industry and communities. Paradise Found needs to be an aspiration for all those players. We recommend the following:

For developers:
This guide gives you an overview of the factors to consider when creating a development that has principles of sustainability at its heart. The hallmarks provide principles against which to plan the development. More detailed guidance can be found in reports like ‘Sustainable Hotel – siting, design and construction’ produced by the International Business Leaders Forum and organisations like LEAD who are driving standards in this area.

For hoteliers:
These guiding principles can be used to assess how sustainable your hotels are and to find the gaps where more action could be taken.

For tour operators:
It’s time to start asking questions about the sustainability of your resorts. Many tour operators already have CSR policies and practices. These hallmarks for a sustainable development would take these policies right to the heart of the operation. Ensuring that the resorts and hotels that you commission become increasingly sustainable is an industry imperative. These hallmarks provide a high standard to aspire to – especially for signature products and own-brand properties and areas.

For governments and tourist boards:
The model of a sustainable destination outlined in this report can form the basis for decisions about how to develop your tourism assets. Governments should use the hallmarks to create a vision of sustainable tourism in their region or country. With this, you can create policies and make investment decisions that are based on a sustainable model. There are also opportunities to encourage more sustainable practice through fiscal measures.

For the communities and destinations themselves:
These hallmarks offer an indication of what’s possible. Communities local to tourism developments should ask for these hallmarks to be reflected in what happens next – and hold governments, and industry players to account for them. Sustainable tourism has to be the way of the future. By taking a proactive, collaborative approach the groups above can contribute not only to their own success but also to a more sustainable future. That way, paradise really can be found.


8 sustainable tourism links
Accreditation (accommodation only):
• The Green Tourism Business Scheme • EU EcoLabel

International awards:
• Tourism for Tomorrow Awards • Responsible Tourism Awards

Accreditation (worldwide):
• Green Globe • Rainforest Alliance • Travelife • Blue Flag • Tour Operators Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development

• • The ethical travel guide from Tourism Concern • Code green from the Lonely Planet • Fair Trade holidays in South Africa

Pro-poor tourism:
• Overseas Development Institute Tourism Programme • Pro Poor Tourism Partnership

Fair Trade tourism:
• Tourism Concern – Fair Trade in Tourism Network • Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa

Responsible tourism organisations:
• The Travel Foundation • The International Tourism Partnership

• WTO Indicators of Sustainable Development for Tourism Destinations • United Nations Environment Programme (Tourism) –

With thanks to Jane Ashton and Sean Owens at TUI Travel, Jonathon Mitchell at the ODI, Graham Miller from the University of Surrey and Sue Hurdle at the Travel Foundation for peer reviewing this report. Forum for the Future is not endorsing any of the destinations featured in this report nor have we necessarily visited them. The case studies are based on publically available information. Any errors are the authors’ own.

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