9 tips to make your tourism business sustainable

Introduction

We’re excited to 🌿 Introduce Balkan Green 🌍, a regional sustainable tourism initiative with partners Terena in Albania, Green Visions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, HYVÄ Coaching & Consulting in Montenegro, Mustseedonia in North Macedonia, and Good Place in Slovenia.

🤝 Our mission? To build a strong and reliable network of professionals dedicated to sustainable tourism development in the region.

As the official representative of Green Destinations and Good Travel Program in the region 🏆, we have the incredible opportunity and responsibility to work with destinations and businesses, providing education, coaching, advisory services, and certification in sustainable tourism practices.

In the next period we will share concrete examples on how to make your tourism business more sustainable. From understanding sustainability criteria and green product development, to marketing, we’re dedicated to assisting you make your business more responsible every step of the way.

Let’s join forces to make a difference! Together, we can elevate sustainable tourism in the Balkans and ensure a better future for our region. 🌿🌍💚

Tip 1 –  Eliminate single use plastic

Eliminating single-use plastic in your tourism business is a great initiative that can contribute to environmental sustainability. Here are some steps:

1. Conduct a plastic audit: Assess your business’s current plastic usage to understand the extent of the problem and identify areas for change.

2. Set goals and create a plan: Establish specific goals and develop an action plan with clear steps and timelines for reducing or eliminating single-use plastic.

3. Educate and train staff: Raise awareness among employees about the importance of reducing single-use plastic and provide training on alternative solutions.

4. Provide alternatives: Replace single-use plastic items with sustainable options, such as installing water stations instead of providing plastic bottles or offering paper, bamboo, or metal straws as alternatives.

5. Engage with suppliers: Communicate your commitment to plastic reduction to suppliers and encourage them to provide products with minimal packaging or in bulk.

6. Raise awareness among guests: Educate guests about the importance of reducing single-use plastic and suggest ways they can participate, such as bringing their own bags or using refillable toiletry dispensers.

7. Collaborate with local initiatives: Support local environmental initiatives and partner with organizations promoting sustainable practices to have a broader impact.

8. Track progress and celebrate successes: Regularly monitor and measure progress, celebrate milestones, and communicate achievements to staff and guests to inspire continued engagement and motivate others.

Remember that eliminating single-use plastic is an ongoing process. Continuously assess and improve your practices to ensure long-term sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of your tourism business.

 

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Tip 2 – Support local products and services

Supporting local products and services in your sustainable tourism business is an excellent way to contribute to the local economy, preserve cultural heritage, and minimize the environmental impact of your operations. Here are some strategies you can implement:

1. Prioritize sourcing products and services from local suppliers and businesses to support the local economy.

2. Engage with the local community, involve them in decision-making processes, and seek their input to foster cooperation and ownership.

3. Promote and support local cultural traditions, festivals, and events while educating tourists about their significance.

4. Provide training and employment opportunities to local residents to enhance their skills and create job opportunities.

5. Implement sustainable practices in your operations, such as waste reduction, water and energy conservation, and recycling.

6. Raise awareness among tourists about the importance of supporting local products and services and their positive impacts.

7. Collaborate with local businesses, tourism associations, and organizations to strengthen the local tourism ecosystem.

8. Continuously seek feedback and make necessary adjustments to improve sustainable practices and align with local needs and objectives.

Remember, the key is to develop long-term relationships with the local community and integrate sustainability into every aspect of your tourism business. By doing so, you can create a positive impact on the environment, society, and economy while providing an authentic and enriching experience for your guests.

 

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Tip 3 – Consult the local communities regarding your trips and services

When conducting trips and activities, it is crucial to consult and engage with the local communities to avoid any adverse effects on their access to livelihoods and resources. Here are some steps you can take:

🌲 Identify in the local communities groups that may be affected by your business activities. This can include local residents, indigenous communities, fishermen, farmers, and other relevant groups.

🍀 Engage in meaningful dialogue with the local communities to understand their needs, concerns, and aspirations. Actively listen to their perspectives and involve them in decision-making processes related to your business activities.

🪴Assess the potential impacts of your business activities on local access to livelihoods, land, aquatic resources, rights-of-way, transport, and housing.

♻️ Identify and implement ways to minimize any adverse effects on local access to livelihoods and resources. This can include measures such as land or resource restoration, alternative livelihood opportunities, or compensation for any losses incurred.

❇️Support and collaborate with local initiatives that promote sustainable development, community empowerment, and the protection of local livelihoods.

💹Regularly monitor and evaluate the impacts of your business activities, addressing concerns and ensuring satisfaction within the local communities.

By following these steps and actively involving the local communities in decision-making processes, you can work towards minimizing adverse effects on local access to livelihoods and ensure sustainable development in the areas where you operate.

 

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Tip 4 – Inform your guests about key sustainability issues in the destination

Why is it important for tourism operators to inform guests about key sustainability aspects in the destination?

– Guests who are aware of the environmental impact of their actions are more likely to make conscious choices that minimize harm to the destination’s ecosystems, such as conserving water💦, reducing waste♻️, and respecting local flora and fauna🌸.

– By informing guests about the destination’s unique cultural traditions, heritage sites, and indigenous communities, operators can raise awareness about the importance of respecting local cultures and traditions. This helps preserve the authenticity of the destination and ensures that tourism activities do not negatively📈 impact local communities.

– Sustainable tourism aims to ensure the long-term viability of a destination by balancing ⚖️economic, environmental, and social factors. By informing guests about sustainability aspects, operators can foster a sense of responsibility and encourage sustainable practices among visitors. This can help reduce the negative impacts of tourism, such as overconsumption of resources, overcrowding, and strain on local infrastructure.

– Increasingly, travelers are seeking out destinations and operators that prioritize sustainability🏅. By proactively addressing sustainability issues and informing guests about their efforts, tourism operators can build a positive reputation among environmentally and socially conscious travelers.

Ultimately, the success of our industry hinges on our ability to foster a deep sense of responsibility and stewardship among travelers💚. By equipping guests with knowledge about sustainability and encouraging them to make conscious choices, we can collectively protect our fragile ecosystems, celebrate and preserve diverse cultures, and uplift local communities.

 

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Tip 5 – Offer low-impact activities

🚵Low-impact activities , such as outdoor sports like walking, hiking, and cycling, rural tourism, wildlife watching, non-motorized water sports, and insightful cultural activities, are crucial for several reasons:

  • They minimize the negative impact on the environment. These activities generally have a smaller carbon footprint 👣, reduce pollution, and preserve natural resources compared to more resource-intensive and polluting alternatives.
  • Engaging in wildlife 🐻watching and non-motorized water sports allows people to appreciate and connect with nature without causing disturbance or harm to ecosystems and wildlife. This promotes the conservation of biodiversity and helps protect vulnerable species and habitats.
  • They provide opportunities for education 📚and awareness about environmental ♻️issues. Through guided tours, interpretation centers, and informative materials, people can learn about ecosystems, conservation, and sustainable practices. This can lead to increased environmental consciousness and more informed decision-making.

 

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Tip 6 – Preserve the Integrity of your Activity Areas

When tour operators cause damages to the activity area and community, it is crucial for them to take responsibility and implement measures to👩‍🔧 repair, compensate, and prevent future harm caused. Here are some ways tour operators can achieve this:

Immediate action: Assess the extent of the damages and take steps to prevent further harm. This may involve halting the activity temporarily, removing any hazardous materials ☢️, or securing the area to prevent additional damage.

Community🏘️ involvement and support: Engage with the affected stakeholders and involve them in the repair, compensation, and prevention process. Seek their input and involve local residents in the restoration activities, ensuring their voices are heard and respected.

Environmental restoration: Develop a comprehensive plan 🌲for restoring the natural environment or any damaged infrastructure. This may involve activities like replanting vegetation, repairing trails or pathways, cleaning up pollution, or restoring habitats for local wildlife.

💰Financial compensation: Work with local stakeholders to determine a fair and equitable compensation structure that considers the extent of the harm caused.

Long-term sustainability: Implement sustainable practices to minimize future damages, including training guides and staff on environmental conservation, adhering to responsible tourism practices, and monitoring the impact of activities on the area and community.

It’s essential for tour operators to prioritize the well-being of the environment and local communities, and to take proactive steps to repair damages and provide fair compensation. By demonstrating responsible practices and fostering positive relationships 🦚, tour operators can help rebuild trust and contribute to the sustainable development of the activity area.

 

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Tip 7 – Provide your drivers with an eco driving 🚌code of conduct

Eco-driving is a method to decrease fuel consumption and CO2 emissions without needing to upgrade a vehicle’s technology. Driving behavior, along with factors like weather and road conditions, can have a significant impact on fuel efficiency. By adopting eco-driving habits, it is possible to save a noteworthy amount of fuel (up to 10-20% with professional training) while also improving road safety.

Additionally, eco-driving has the following benefits:

  • Ability to travel longer distances with the same amount of fuel.
  • Less stress, wear, and tear on the vehicle, resulting in fewer and less costly repairs.
  • Safer driving, leading to fewer accidents.
  • Reduced fuel use resulting in fewer CO2 emissions and less air pollution.

Use the following set of recommendations to create an eco-driving code for your drivers and transport companies

– Drive at the designated speed limit 🚫and use lower gears to save carbon emissions.
– Use the engine more consciously by letting go of the gas pedal in time.
– Check your route 🗺️ before leaving to avoid traffic and prevent getting lost.
– Adopt a relaxed and defensive driving style, and look ahead to avoid sudden stops (e.g., by anticipating traffic jams or red lights and easing off the gas pedal).
– Avoid idling; instead, switch off the engine when anticipating a long wait (e.g., at railroad tracks or checkpoints).
– Remove the roof rack or any unnecessary accessories when not in use.
– Check tire pressure before leaving.
– Use heating 🔥or air conditioning only when necessary.

 

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Tip 8 – 💰Pay staff a living wage

All employees of the company have an employment contract, including labor conditions and a job description. The company pays employees at least a living wage which is equal to or above the legal minimum.

A living wage is the remuneration a worker receives for a standard workweek. The amount should be sufficient to afford a decent standard of living for the worker and their family. Elements of a decent standard of living include food🍎, wate💦r, housing🏘️ , education📚, health care🏥 , transportation🚙, clothing, and other essential needs, including provision for unexpected events.

The living wage is often defined by law and redefined on a yearly basis; however, it can be incremented by companies to ensure their employees will earn enough to live, based on the real cost of living in their respective countries.

In the employment contracts, the salary/wage must be mentioned and be of an accepted level in your country.

 

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Tip 9 – Lose the single use plastic spoons 🥄

We love coffee ☕️, and we 😡hate these plastic spoons!

Can anyone help with a quick calculation? Let’s take Montenegro as an example, considering only the inhabitants and not even counting the tourists’ consumption. Montenegro 🇲🇪has approximately 650,000 inhabitants, of which maybe half have one coffee per day in a cafe, restaurant, or at work. This amounts to 325,000 coffees per day.

If 90% of these coffees are served with a plastic spoon (which seems to be the case), it means there are 292,000 single-use plastic spoons used per day. Unfortunately, not all of them end up in the garbage; we find them in various places.

Let’s assume there are 300 such days in a year, resulting in a total of 292,000 spoons multiplied by 300 days. This amounts to 87 million single-use plastic spoons per year, just in Montenegro. Over five years, this adds up to 439 million spoons 🥄🥄🥄or over 1,000 tonnes, which eventually end up in landfills, rivers, lakes, seas, and harm wildlife such as fish and birds. Ultimately, these microplastics affect all of us.

Therefore, let’s go back to a coffee culture that embraces real spoons that can be washed 💦 and reused ♼, just like cups are.

 

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Kako prve destinacije I biznisi iz Albanije, Bosne i Hercegovine, Crne Gore i Sjeverne Makedonije čine Balkan zelenim.

Četiri događaja održivog turizma su organizovana u Trebinju, TIvtu, Vevčanima i Belshu u periodu od 30.marta do 6.aprila.  Organizatori su pet Balkan Green partnera iz Albanije, Bosne i Hercegovine, Crne Gore, Sjeverne Makedonije i Slovenije.  Četiri Roadshow događaja su podigla svijest među destinacijama, biznisima i drugim zainteresovanim o temama relevatnim za održivi turizam, a koje uključuju: Zašto, kako i ko u održivom turizmu – zašto se destinacije i biznisi trebaju uključiti, naglašavajući inicijative dobre prakse u regionu, naučene lekcije, trendove putovanja u periodu nakon pandemije, i druge.

Preko 125 učesnika koji dolaze iz destinacija, MSP-a, kao i individualnih pružaoca usluga u turizmu su prisustvovali Roadshow događajima tokom ova četiri dana.

Roadshow i druge Balkan Green aktivnosti su podržane od USAID Economic Development, Governance and Enterprise Growth Project (EDGE).

 

REGIONALNE VIJESTI

 

Trebinje, BiH

Prvi dan Balkan Green Roadshow je posvećen održivosti i šta ona tačno znači u i za turizam.  Po prvi put su javne institucije, biznisi i donosioci politika imali priliku da razgovaraju i preduzmu početne korake ka zajedničkoj strategiji za održivu budućnost turizma u BiH.

Učesnike je pozdravio i inspirisao g. Albert Salman, osnivač i Predsjednik Green Destinations-a, koji je predstavio okvir za unapređenje održivosti u turizmu u regionu.  Trebinje, kao prva destinacija u BiH koja je prepoznata od strane Green Destinations, je podijelilo svoja iskustva i naučene lekcije.

Tokom dana pet novih destinacija (Bosanska Krupa, Konjic, Nacionalni park Kozara, Spomenik prirode Skakavac, i Šamac) je zvanično pristupilo Green Destinations Top 100 Good Practice Story 2023 takmičenju, dok je Trebinje pristupilo certifikacijskom programu Green Destinations Award & Certification Program.

Posebna sesija je posvećena Good Travel programu tokom kojeg je Balkan Green partner Green Visions razložio mogućnosti za biznise i ponudio detaljne informacije o procesima i zahtjevima, kao i o prednostima koje donosi certifikacija prema Good Travel Programu.

Na kraju punog dana učesnici su uživali u događaju u Hercegovačkoj kući, kooperativi koja promoviše i prodaje proizvode preko 120 lokalnih kompanija i proizvođača, tokom kojeg su imali priliku i za neformalno druženje i umrežavanje.  Hercegovačka kuća je pobjednik takmičenja Top100 2021 održivih priča.

 

 

Tivat, CRNA GORA

Tivat, Crna Gora, destinacija koja je dobila bronzanu Green Destinations nagradu 2022. godine za napore ka održivom razvoju i praćenju rezultata kroz proces u koji je Tivat krenuo još 2020. godine. Razgovor se fokusirao na opštinske programe podrške za revitalizaciju ruralnih područja i kako da takvi programi budu uspješni, a tokom poslijepodneva su učesnici imali priliku saznati detaljnije o praktičnim primjerima i izazovima sa kojima se suočilo selo Gornja Lašva. Danica Banjević, direktorica Turističke organizacje Tivat, je podijelila interesantne podatke koji ukazuju na povećanje broja posjetilaca i noćenja u pred- i post-sezonskim terminima.  Učesnici su takođe saznali o iskustvima u iznalaženju ravnoteže između zaštite prirodnih resursa i promocije i upravljanja odgovornim turizmom u Specijalnom prirodnom rezervatu Tivatska Solila, pobjedniku takmičenja Top100 Priče dobre prakse 2020 u kategoriji Priroda i ekoturizam (Nature and Ecotourism).

 

Vevčani, SJEVERNA MAKEDONIJA

Vevčani, najmanja makedonska opština, i prvi makednoski učesnik takmičenja Green Destinations Top 100 Priče, ugostila je Balkan Green Roadshow u Sjevernoj Makedoniji.  Uz opštinu Vevčani, i četiri biznisa su krenula na putovanje održivog razvoja kroz Green Destinations Good Travel Program.

Dobrodošlicu u Vevčane poželio nam je gradonačelnik. Program smo počeli predstavčjanjem Balkan Green-a i Green Destinations-a, upoznavajući prisutne sa programima, kao i putovanju i napretku koje je opština Vevčani do sada postigla.  Imali smo zadovoljstvo poslušati inspirativno obraćanje g. Alberta Salmana, osnivača i Predsjednika Green Destinations.  Tokom pauze u radu uživali smo u tradicionalnim jelima koja su pripremili lokalni proizvođači. Interaktivna panel diskusija o tome Zašto, ko i kako i  realnostima vezanim za održivi turizam tokom koje su sa nama podijelili svoja iskustva i saznanja Jasminka Varnalieva (USAID-EDGE), Jana Apih (Good Place, Slovenija), Natalija Angelova (MES-Makedonsko ekolosko društvo), i Thierry Jourbert (Green Visions, Bosna i Hercegovina),  koju je moderirao Aleksandar Donev iz Mustseedonia, doprinijela je živoj diskusiji učesnika iz privatnog sektora, destinacija, donatora i Balkan Green partnera koja je uslijedila.

 

Belsh, ALBANIJA

Posljednju stanicu Roadshow-a je označilo učešće visokih gostiju kao što su gradonačelnik Belsha, Arif Tafani, Jasminka Varnalieva, Šef projekta USAID EDGE, glavnog finansijskog partnera Roadshow serije, te osnivača i Predsjednika Green Destinations-a, Alberta Salmana.

Učesnici su čuli informacije o centralnoj temi brendiranja i marketinga održivosti turizma.  Jana Apih iz Good Place-a, organizacije koja je bila i još uvijek je instrumentalna u stvaranju i održanju programa “Slovenija Green” prezentovala je neke od najboljih praksi i naučenih lekcija slovenačkog uspješnog nacionalnog programa održivosti.

Poslijepodnevna sesija se fokusirala na javno-privatna partnerstva u razvoju turizma, sa živom panel diskusijom panelista: gradonačelnika Tefani, Elvisa Kotherja iz Elite Travel, Mirtjon Meta iz RisiAlbania, Fetah Elezi iz Institute of Plant Genetic Resources (Poljoprivredni univerzitet, Tirana) i Kastriot Beshiri i Dritan Kamani.  Dan je završen posjetom lokalnom Eko parku  (https://www.instagram.com/dumrea_ecopark/).

PET PREPORUKA sa BALKAN GREEN Roadshow-a

  1. Zeleni događaji posvećeni umrežavanju, sa praktičnim informacijama i razmjenom primijenjenih iskustava, su od ključnog značaja za povećan broj destinacija, biznisa, zaštićenih područja i putnika koji su uključeni i posvećeni praksama i uslugama održivog turizma. Kada se pravilno izvode, kombinacija događaja i komunikacijskih platformi imaju ogroman međusektorski potencijal da doprinesu održivom razvoju, diverzifikaciji, smanjenju siromaštva, zaštiti biodiverziteta, i upravljanju prirodnim resursima.
  2. Zaštićena područja imaju važnu ulogu u procesima održivosti jedne destinacije.  Stavljanjem zaštite okoline u centar neke destinacije, posebno kada je potvrđeno i zakonom, postavlja destinaciju u povoljniji položaj da aktivira pripadajuće zajednice i vladine usluge u dogoročno upravljanje destinacijom.  Zaštićeno  područje, kada se njime dobro upravlja, štiti okolinu, privlači, informiše i upravlja posjetiocima, te stimuliše stvaranje usluga u zajednicama koje okružuju destinaciju.
  3. Javno privatna partnerstva su ključ za ostvarenje dugoročne strategije održivog turizma u nekoj destinaciji kroz uključivanje i podršku lokalnim biznisima.  Vlade mogu da učestvuju i planiraju održivi razvoj turističke industrije u destinaciji, dok paralelno pomažu biznisima da postanu konkurentniji i uspješniji bez uništavanja prirodnih i kulturnih resursa od kojih naše zemlje zavise.
  4. Zeleni timovi i njihovi koordinatori održivosti treba da imaju jasne opise poslova i predanost njihove destinacije, npr. opštinske vlade, upravnih odbora parkova, razvojnih organizacija i organizacija koje upravljaju destianacijom.  Investiranjem u svoje Zelene timove, destinacije mogu napredovati ka dugoročnim ciljevima održivog razvoja za koje je potrebno značajno ulaganje resursa – ljudskih, finansijskih i društvenih.
  5. Certifikacija održivog turizma za MSP je ključni korak za razvoj održivih destinacija i regionalnih proizvoda. Što je biznis sektor više uključen u stvaranje održivih usluga i praksi poslovnog upravljanja, to se od destinacije više zahtjeva da koordiniše aktivnosti širokog spektra stakeholdera, npr. opštinskih službi kao što je planiranje, upravljanje otpadom, energijom i vodom, zapošljavanje, zaštitom okoline, itd.

Magnet za putnike postaje svjetionik za promjene

Tivat, primorski grad, obuhvata spoj dramatičnog pejzaža — i održivih turističkih priča o uspjehu. Zelene planine i Park prirode Vrmac, koje dijeli sa Kotorom uz zaliv Boka, UNESCO-vom svjetskom baštinom za prirodu i kulturu, okružuju ovu zavodljivu destinaciju. Selo Gornja Lastva, na Vrmcu, izabrano je za „Program unaprjeđenja“ najboljih turističkih sela UNWTO 2021.godine.

Priča Tivta o promjenama je nevjerovatna. Više od jednog vijeka ovdje su obučavane stotine majstora, bravara i brodograditelja. Danas najljepše jahte, koje plove pod zastavama iz cijelog svijeta, dolaze i borave u marini Porto Montenegro. Bivša vojna luka pretvorila se u prestižan dom jahti i jedrenja. Drugo poluostrvo, Luštica, poznato je po tradicionalnoj lokalnoj proizvodnji maslinovog ulja, sira i pršuta. Zapanjujuće plaže, biciklističke i planinarske staze i zaliv Luštica su mjesta za aktivnost i opuštanje.

Tivat je postavio nacionalni i zaista međunarodni primjer za svoju zdravu transformaciju iz očaravajućeg i donekle potcijenjenog malog grada u voljenu destinaciju. Sačuvao je svoju tradiciju i sadržaje priobalnog života, uz mediteransko gostoprimstvo, gastronomiju, način života, živu kulturu, kao i bogatu istorijsku i pomorsku baštinu, koja služi kao znamenitost Boke. Grad u isto vrijeme djeluje promijenjeno i nepromijenjeno.

Gradski park, osnovan 1892.godine, je bujna botanička bašta – zaštićeno područje jele, kedra i borova, kao i niza egzotičnih biljaka koje su ovdje donijeli pomorci iz cijelog svijeta — odlično je mjesto za šetnju i osvježenje. Između grada i Luštice, Specijalni rezervat prirode Tivatska solila poziva ljude da istražuju, šetaju ili voze bicikl, i da uče o suživotu čovjeka i prirode. Ime potiče od solane gdje je so nekada bila ekstrahovana. Danas su Tivatska solila dobro zaštićeno područje i jedno od rijetkih preostalih priobalnih močvara i utočišta za ptice na istočnom Jadranu; važno odmorište za ptice selice i dom 111 vrsta ptica, kao što su flamingosi, ždralovi, kormorani ili jastrebovi. Proglašen je dobitnikom nagrade Green Destinations Top 100 priča za 2020.godinu u kategoriji „Priroda i ekoturizam“.

Druga praksa pozitivnih promjena je „TransformaTivat“. Ovdje su lokalni umjetnici redizajnirali električne ormariće od praznog, sivog platna u djela javne umjetnosti. Smješteni uz obalno šetalište, donose kreativne vibracije na neočekivanim mjestima i savršeni su za porodice, bicikliste i sve one koji uživaju u uličnoj umjetnosti.

Tivat je prvi grad na Zapadnom Balkanu koji je nagrađen od strane Green Destinations za svoju posvećenost održivom upravljanju destinacijama i radu sa lokalnom zajednicom, služeći građanima i posjetiocima.