Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Paradise found

A future where tourism benefits local economies and respects the environment is not only possible, it makes good business sense. So what does a sustainable tourism resort look like? Our report Paradise Found gives the answer.

Download Paradise Found here (5 MB pdf file)

Investing in energy efficiency, implementing staff retention programmes and re-thinking waste are all ways in which resorts can become more profitable while benefitting local communities and the environment, according to Paradise Found.

It also demonstrates how leading businesses in the tourist industry are taking action on climate change, cutting greenhouse gas emissions in expectation of tough regulations and making plans to adapt to the consequences of changing weather systems.

“The collapse of several airlines and tour operators shows that the industry needs to take long-term sustainability factors into account in its strategic planning,” says Stephanie Draper, author of the report and Acting Director of the Forum’s business programme.

“The industry has been blindsided by roller coaster fuel prices and the economic downturn. Issues like climate change and water scarcity are already affecting tourism. To be sustainable financially, as well as environmentally and socially the industry needs a new approach.

“This report challenges the industry to see sustainability in tourism destinations as an opportunity, a chance to differentiate, innovate and save money. Paradise Found embodies our vision of a future where profitable tourist resorts benefit local people and exist in harmony with their environment.”

Paradise Found demonstrates how investment in five key areas - the environment, people, community, infrastructure and finance – can enhance profitability and highlights best practice
. It serves as a guide for tour operators, developers, hoteliers and other tourism providers involved in building new resorts or refurbishing existing buildings.

Whilst the report finds that there is no one tourism development that is yet truly sustainable, there are resorts that are leading the way in certain aspects of sustainability.

Six Senses’ Soneva Fushi resort in the Maldives is one of a growing number of destinations which are already reaping the benefits of incorporating carbon management into their business. Since starting to manage its energy use in 2006 it has halved its carbon footprint. It plans to go carbon neutral by 2010, offsetting emissions from guest flights, resort travel and operations by building wind turbines in India which are expected to generate more than £1 million of carbon credits over 20 years.

“The core purpose of Six Senses is to create innovative and enriching experiences in a sustainable environment.” Says Louis Thompson, Six Senses Permaculturist. “In consequence we have invested heavily in a range of different renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures to reduce the carbon footprint of our resorts.”

“We live in an increasingly unpredictable world with massive fluctuations in the price of oil and other commodities. the measures we are currently adopting will help us weather these storms and reduce our costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars. These green characteristics also help to differentiate our group from competitors and provide our guests with truly enriching experiences.”

For further information on our work on Sustainable Tourism, click here or email Vicky Murray: v.murray@forumforthefuture.org