In recent years, consumers have become more aware of their impact on the world and strive to mitigate the adverse effects of their actions. As such, they expect the same of the businesses they give their money to.
In a 2015 study, 72% of Gen Z respondents said they’d be willing to pay more for a business that prioritizes sustainability. For those in the tourism industry, this has created an excellent opportunity to partake in sustainable tourism.
Here’s everything you need to know about sustainable tourism, and how vacation rentals can support the movement.
What is Sustainable Tourism?
In simplest terms, sustainable tourism promotes long-term care and mindfulness in the tourism industry. These efforts are to ensure that the economy, architecture, wildlife, and scenery of the place you’re visiting will still be around to enjoy a century from now.
In other words, sustainable tourism prioritizes protecting the environmental resources used, respecting the local culture, and setting up the local economy for long-term success.
Everyone plays a role in sustainable tourism. The local government, who benefits from the economic boost, should want to protect the area so people will continue to visit. Local businesses need to think long-term and plan for succession and contribution. Most importantly, tourists themselves need to be respectful of the place they visit and the people (and creatures) who live there.
Short-Term Rentals and Sustainability
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding short-term rentals. Many people take advantage of the gig economy to make extra money, with little consideration for the surrounding environment or people.
To ensure that places allow short-term rentals now and in the future, prioritizing sustainability is essential. Here are some of the ways vacation rentals can partake in sustainable tourism.
Evaluate Your Consumption
Vacation rental owners should evaluate the overall consumption of their property and make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. The two main areas of consumption in vacation rental are typically water and electricity.
Conduct an energy audit and determine what areas of consumption can be improved. Reinvest profits from the rental to make energy-smart upgrades to appliances and low-flow faucets and toilets. Evaluate options for grants and bonuses based on your consumption rates, as some areas have special programs and rebates for those who don’t hit their consumption threshold. For example, you can get cheap electricity in Texas if you use one of their eco-friendly providers.
As a vacation rental operator, don’t showcase all the big box stores and chain restaurants in your area. Instead, work with other local businesses to cross-promote and keep tourism dollars in the community.
Reach out to local restaurants and shops to discuss a partnership. A simple way to help each other is by leaving information about their business in your rental and having them recommend yours on social media.
One of the main advantages of short-term rentals in sustainable tourism is that the majority of the money stays in the local economy. Airbnb estimates that while their short-term rental operators keep 97% of profits and feed it back into the local economy, large hotels may only see 44% of profits support the local area.
By promoting local operators in the tourism industry, you’re creating long-term viability in the local economy.
Post Best Practices
Immersing oneself in a different culture is one of the most exciting parts of travel. However, it never hurts to remind visitors that their vacation is somebody else’s home. Sometimes a friendly reminder can make all the difference in promoting sustainable tourism and educating tourists to do the same.
For example, if there are local animals in the area that shouldn’t be fed for health reasons, let people know. If there are cultural practices that are normal in some areas but frowned upon locally, tell your visitors as nicely as possible.
Including a best practices booklet or local treasures guide is a great way to convey a message that promotes sustainable tourism. Most guests will appreciate the tips as it will help them avoid any social faux pas and enjoy their trip.
The key to promoting sustainable tourism as a vacation rental operator is giving back to the area that supports you. Whether it’s helping protect the local architecture and wildlife or being more eco-friendly, every effort counts.
By promoting sustainable tourism, you are setting your business up for long-term success.