Simple Ways to Implement Sustainable Tourism
Tourism departments and cultural institutions across the country have been in discussions about sustainable tourism, a concept that is gaining importance in the travel and arts industries. The buzzphrase can be intimidating, but with a better understanding and actionable solutions, you can implement strategies to ensure the long-term viability of your destination.
So, what does sustainable tourism mean exactly, and how can organizations achieve it with budgetary constraints?
Sustainable tourism focuses on minimizing the negative impacts of tourism on the environment and local communities and maximizing the benefits for both. Sustainable tourism can be defined as tourism activities that prioritize environmental conservation, social responsibility, and economic viability. It aims to minimize the environmental damage of tourism and ensure that the benefits are distributed fairly among all stakeholders within the tourism industry. (Source: vieuxloupdemer)
Now that we understand the importance of sustainable tourism, the challenge lies in implementing it with limited funds. Hiring additional staff or investing in physical infrastructure may be impossible on a tight budget. Posting excessive signage is often restricted. Printing materials are costly, and they end up littering the area. However, what if we could leverage a tool that over 80% of visitors already carry in their pockets?
Cell phones, a ubiquitous and beloved aspect of modern life, can be the key to promoting sustainable tourism. Here are six ways to use cell phones as free tools for sustainable touring:
- GPS Mapping: Build a custom map interface that displays visitors real-time location and highlights trails, recommended destinations, and nearby points of interest. Read more
- Audio Guides: Visitors are just a phone call away from audio information on selected stops. Use the tool to educate visitors on the destination's story, cultural heritage, environmental facts, and more. Read more
- Smartphone Tours: Develop interactive web apps that highlight sustainable practices, eco-friendly businesses, and local initiatives supporting environmental conservation. Read more
- Scavenger Hunts: Guide visitors with fun facts on your destinations, direct traffic flow, and lead visitors to points of interest they may have missed before with this gamified touring tool. Read More
- Text Messaging: Utilize text messaging to share travel suggestions, local business promotions, and reminders about responsible tourism practices. Read more
- Digital Surveys: Collect feedback through digital surveys to continuously improve and tailor sustainable tourism initiatives based on visitor experiences and preferences. Read more
The major advantages of these mobile touring tools align with the principles of sustainable tourism:
Accessibility: The GPS Maps, Smartphone Tours, Scavenger Hunts, and Digital Surveys are cloud-based. This means visitors can access these applications on any web browser, and the tools will automatically conform to each user's accessibility settings. Audio guides and text messaging will be accessible on any device with service in the area. These platforms can provide both visual and audio touring opportunities for those with sensory disabilities, ensuring inclusivity and a positive experience for every visitor.
John Sigmund of Fairmount Park Conservancy says, "A consideration for Philadelphia is that, of the biggest cities in the United States, we are the poorest, big American city. So I like how equitable this is. Anybody with a phone can dial in. They don't even need a smartphone. You can call from your landline. So I like the simplicity of just a good old fashioned phone call, because with too many instructions, people get lost.”
Business Growth: The technology presents a significant marketing opportunity for attractions and local businesses. Client Kathryn Horrigan with Destination Salem explains, "It's a business tool, it takes you to burrows. It connected our commerce in a way we didn't expect it to do.” Digital maps will often show visitors places they may not have ventured to before, providing more traffic for local businesses and encouraging visitors to move through the city.
Diverse Audience: Mobile touring tools can cater to a diverse range of visitors with varying interests and knowledge levels, promoting a deeper understanding of the destination's sustainability efforts.
By utilizing mobile technology for sustainable tourism, organizations can create accessible and informative visitor resources that align with larger environmental and community initiatives. This innovative approach not only enhances the overall tourism experience, but also contributes to the long-term well-being of destinations and their communities.