The Opportunity for Responsible Accommodation in Australia

Providing guests eco-friendly accommodation appears to be moving to a commercial tipping point in Australia. New Roy Morgan Research states that 21.6% of Australians would like a “real eco-tourism experience” but their study found that only 1.1% had actually experienced one during their last trip. The report strongly recommends domestic destinations offer more “green-friendly” accommodation options.
Australia has tens of thousands of accommodation providers available online, most of whom would gladly choose a competitive point of difference which does not result in price cutting. However, | developing a greener business requires serious thought if it is going to be a long term proposition with integrity.
Crystal Creek Meadows has been focusing on eco-friendly accommodation since 2006 when it became accredited by Ecotourism Australia and has just published its Responsible Accommodation Report for 2014-15 which compares nine years of sustainability monitoring.
Efficiency Cuts
In addition to buying green energy and running a solar farm, the tourist accommodation business has managed to cut electricity consumption by 45% (between 2006-07 and 2014-15). Despite occupancy increasing during this time, electricity consumption by guest night has dropped by 55%. Responsible practices have also resulted in landfill declining by 63%. Overall the guest night CO2 footprint has fallen by 53% to 6.12 kg.
Opportunities
The Responsible Accommodation Report shows that continuous efficiency improvement reaches a point where progress becomes harder to achieve without the direct participation of guests. Introducing new green experiences that directly involve guests helps motivate them to conserve resources. Responsible activities planned well can have the added benefit of building a more distinctive experience and increase guest satisfaction, which can be further enhanced through Trip Advisor’s new Green Leaders programme (launched in Australia in April).

Wildlife Tourism Conference: force for biodiversity & LED

3rd Australian Wildlife Tourism Conference 29 September – 3 October 2015 – Geelong, Victoria.
Wildlife Tourism can be a key force in both conservation of biodiversity and contributor to local economic development. Hear about the trends and contribute to the critical debates that will influence Australia’s most iconic tourism assets. Christopher Warren is a keynote speaker and will illustrate how responsible wildlife tourism can make a real difference. Find our more. The international speaker list includes Dr Jeff Skibins, with presentations which provide practical examples and advice on how to involve tourism more in conservation.

 

ICRT-Australia joins UNWTO sustainable tourism programme

The ICRT-Australia has officially become a partner to the UNWTO/UNEP’s new 10 year framework programme on Sustainable Tourism. The ICRT – Australia will seek to contribute and support training, workshops and the sharing of knowledge to contribute to sustainable tourism/ecotourism as part of international development, which promotes resource efficiencies. More details of the programme will be announced on 5th November 2014 at the London World Travel Market.

Tourism’s bushfire challenges

Findings from Bushfire Preparedness and Tourism Seminar November 2013

Tourism faces increasing threat of bushfires and subsequent visitor economy impacts for communities.

 

While the impacts of climate change will continue to contribute extreme weather events, tourism is struggling to prepare itself and adapt to the challenges which lie ahead. This was a conclusion from the first dedicated tourism industry and bushfire meeting held in Sydney last week. The speakers’ presentations revealed a gap between the available information/advice verses the actual uptake and practical action taken by tourism to prepare for bushfires. This is a situation which could worsen as the pace of climate change accelerates delivering increased and prolonged extreme weather conditions.

“Tourism must develop a far higher level of bushfire preparedness and product resilience if the visitor economy is to continue to be a strong contributor to rural communities” says Christopher Warren, director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism-Australia (ICRT).

Warren was amongst seven expert speakers at the ‘Bushfire Preparedness for the Tourism Industry: Managing Visitor Economy Risks Seminar’ in Sydney on 28th November conducted by the Tourism Industry Council NSW and the ICRT-Australia.

Dr Sarah Perkins of the Climate Change Research Centre (UNSW) revealed that extreme weather events are increasing and the number of hot days will increase as a direct result of human induced CO2 emissions. This will increase the threat of bushfires in Australia.

Bushfires are not only an environmental threat but a high economic risk. The economic impact of the recent fires in the Blue Mountains region has cost the local tourism industry over $56 million in six weeks alone, said Randall Walker, chair of the Blue Mts. Lithgow and Oberon Tourism. The economic waves were also felt outside the direct Blue Mts region with many of the seminar’s participants reporting that their neighbouring regions had seen a drop in visitors number as a direct result of the fires in the Blue Mts.  This suggests that visitors take safety very seriously and prefer to avoid a wider region than just the localised bushfire impacted area.

Perceptions of where the fires were located was a major cause of concern for Walker who pointed out that the fires did not consume the entire Blue Mts. destination, but affected only sections. He cited that some media reports gave a false impression of the situation and recalled examples where the inaccurate naming of fires as “the Blue Mts bushfire fires” suggested a region wide impact. Despite endeavours to encourage the media to use the specific bushfire locality names, reports continued to suggest a large affected area resulting in people staying away from the region. Many international travel organisations were reported to have diverted tourists. It might be argued that long-term this might  demonstrate  that tourism can adapt to climate change impacts i.e. visitors simply move to safer destinations. However, it not possible for affected locations to so simply adapt with consequential long-term visitor economy impacts and mounting insurance pressures on high bushfire risk tourism properties or ecotourism experiences.

Preparing a crisis communications plan, in the event of a natural disaster, was explained by Dr David Beirman from University of Technology Sydney.  He demonstrated that it requires a sophisticated multi-channel recovery plan where communication efforts must be coordinated and presented by a key spokesperson. Beirman gave international examples showing  the need to ensure media accuracy, considered use of social media, the preparation of communication materials and management systems, including training, to ensure the destination was proactive rather reactive to media coverage. “You are managing the destination’s reputation and consumer trust,” said Beirman.

Following the catastrophic Black Saturday fires, Tourism Victoria and the CFA have worked hard to develop a programme which improved education, communications and preparedness for destinations, operators and visitors. Dr Stuart Toplis from Tourism Victoria presented 10 key findings from their programme. He emphasised that it was essential to establish a strong working relationship between emergency services and tourism. Tourism Victoria works with Victorian Tourism Industry Council in a collaborative manner under the ‘Tourism Crisis Management Group’ to work with emergency services, destinations and subsequently operators and visitors; an arrangement that is not in place in NSW.

Toplis also outlined workshops, media management and visitor information activities that were conducted in Victoria. Tourism Victoria’s current activities involve integrating its bushfire information into general tourism collateral so that it reaches visitors outside of bushfire danger periods and presents it as normal destination advice. Despite these measures Toplis confided that challenges included “apathy, people are going back to their old ways”.

The third part of the seminar concentrated on understanding why tourism providers did not prepare sufficiently for bushfires and how to turn preparedness into an opportunity.

Caroline Bollrich summarised her master’s thesis report (Leeds Metropolitan University) on barriers for bushfire preparedness. This unique study of 30 tourism providers in a high bushfire prone region at the South Coast of NSW , showed the complexity of tourism providers’ decision making.. While operators where aware of the threats of bushfires Bollrich’s findings showed that they were generally unprepared with inconsistent plans, unclear communication channels and low levels of training. Only 10% of the tourism businesses had any staff and guest evacuation plans in place. This scale of preparedness was confirmed by Tony Jarrett, acting Community Manager of the RFS who confirmed that only 10% of the residents in the Blue Mts region held any bushfire survival plans and few undertook regular training. These findings suggest that NSW tourism and rural communities are not sufficiently prepared for bushfire threats beyond simple property protection. Consequently visitors, staff and the overall visitor economy are at high risk.

One method to encourage wider tourism provider participation in being prepared is to promote the dual benefits of taking action and offering a better visitor experience. The ICRT’s Christopher Warren presented examples of how tourism managers could engage with tourism using parallel motivations. Warren showed nine examples involving visitors in reducing bushfire threats to generating wider tourism cooperation. “While tourism owners and managers are aware of bushfire threats they have may other factors which they consider priorities, a strategy is therefore to develop a suite of activities which have two parallel benefits, one to improve the experience/destination while at the same time reducing risks”, said Warren.

Recommendations:

1.       Use the online resources found here

2.       Destination managers should review assets and devise a preparedness plan which involves tourism operators and community, strategies can be found here

3.       Conduct a training programme for guides, caravan Parks, B&B and other rural tourism providers, contact local emergency services or ICRT

Practical advice to improve bushfire preparedness and protect the Visitor Economy

Expert speakers and panel have been announced for the for the first seminar on tourism and bushfires ‘Bushfire Preparedness for the Tourism Industry: Managing the Visitor Economy’ . This is being run by the Tourism Industry Council NSW and the ICRT-Australia in Sydney on 28th November.

The recent bushfire events in NSW and its economic impact on tourism and communities have been well reported. How can we better prepare destinations and the tourism industry? The Tourism Industry Council of NSW, together with the ICRT-Australia are running a special seminar on bushfire preparedness and tourism for senior tourism professionals and tourism operators.

The expert panel include:

 

  • Dr Sarah Perkins, from the Climate Change Research Centre (UNSW), will outline extreme weather event trends and impact for bushfires
  • Dr Stuart Toplis from Tourism Victoria who will share how the Victorian tourism industry has tackled the challenges of preparedness.
  • Dr David Beirman, University of Technology Sydney, will discuss preparedness for recovery and terms of business
  • Tony Jarrett, acting community officers of the Rural Fire Service, will provide insights into community involvement
  • Randle Walker, chair of Blue Mountains Tourism will report on the economic impacts for toruism from the recent fires
  • Caroline Bollrich (ICRT) will report on her research findings of how prepared torjsim operators actually are and the barriers for improvement
  • Christopher Warren, director of the ICRT-Australia will discuss tourism’s responsibility to protect assets and communities and how prevention can turned into business opportunities.

“The seminar includes findings from a unique ICRT research study of 30 South Coast NSW tourism operators in a rural community. This makes the seminar of particular value because it demonstrates the challenges tourism faces to improve preparedness. It also indicates actions required from destination management planning and local government’s role,” says Christopher Warren, director of the ICRT-Australia.

This is a practical seminar that will offer guidance and advice to tourism professionals and tourism owners to protect the visitor economy. There are three Q&A sessions with the expert panel.

The Tourism Industry Council of NSW would very much welcome your support at this seminar next Thursday 28th November in Sydney. It is an important and timely subject and we would welcome your participation to help make tourism and the visitor economy more secure and sustainable.

To book please click here to download the Credit Card form and return back to Candice Scharkie via email Candice@ticnsw.com.au Alternatively if you would like further information please email Candice or contact her on 02 9458 7008.

Bush fires and the Visitor Economy: How prepared is NSW tourism?

Source RFS

Shared responsibility – protecting the visitor economy from bush fires (Source RFS)

Tourism in NSW is focused on doubling visitor expenditure by 2020. Much attention has been given to events/festivals and improvements to infrastructure. However, as we promote the value of the visitor economy so should we protect it. Currently tourism is vulnerable to extreme weather events and their consequences. The direct impact of recent bush fires in NSW stops the flow of tourists and their expenditure, even in areas that are not affected.  Visitor nights are perishable, lost sales cannot be recovered. Preventing bush fires and protecting tourists and tourism assets is increasingly essential if we are going to help build long-term rural community prosperity and a competitive tourism industry .

Research into NSW tourism bush fire preparedness by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism-Australia,  clearly shows a high level of awareness, but a low level of preparedness in bush fire risk management at a state, regional, community and business level, even in high risk areas. The lack of action is caused in part by resources, time and the type of tourism business.  On a destination management level responsibilities would benefit from greater clarity.

The term ‘Shared Responsibility’ has been used widely in emergency management issues in Australia since the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission (2010) publication on fire preparation, response and recovery. ‘Shared responsibility’ is the keystone of the Council of Australian Governments’ National Strategy for Disaster Resilience (2011). Preparedness is therefore not solely the role of the emergency services but also communities, tourism stakeholders, destination managers.

Part of preparedness at a grass roots level also requires clear insurance cover, guest education, responsible terms of business and stakeholder collaboration.  Since 2010 Victorian tourism has made many progressive steps to offer a more responsible tourism with regards to disaster management including establishing the Tourism Crisis Management Group between Tourism Victoria and the Victorian Tourism Industry Council. Likewise Queensland offers advice and support for disaster management.

NSW tourism would benefit from a concerted holistic preparedness programme. Part of this requires us to better engage the tourism industry to protect property, guests, staff and the very assets that attract tourists. It is recommended that tourism operators need to be incentivised to act and destination managers and industry leaders collaborate broadly with their communities (as discussed in the article below).

Failure to act leaves NSW tourism vulnerable to negative public opinion, the destructive results of bush fires (and other extreme weather events) and ultimately not ‘shared responsibility’. To double visitor expenditure requires sustainable growth strategies and risk management.

 

 Article: Motivating tourism to protect destinations: the gap between extreme weather threats and preparedness

ICRT Resources: Risk Management Resources

Risk Management Paper: Encouraging Rural Tourism to embrace Bush Fire Risk Management through business and visitor improvement strategies

 

 

Susanne Becken chairs environmental theme at RTD7

Dr Susanne Becken, professor of sustainable tourism at Griffith University Australia, will be chairing ‘Taking responsibility for the environmental impacts of tourism’ one of five themes at the 7th RTD. Responsible Tourism in Destinations: Barcelona – Catalunya 1-4th October 2013.
The conference includes an academic day and two day conference for tourism professionals. This is the first responsible tourism in destination conference to be held in Spain and includes an international list of expert speakers, case studies and working sessions.
With tourism recognised as a major economic contributor to the world economy and the primary economic driver to many destinations, this conference demonstrates a broad awareness that tourism must take responsibility for its negative impacts and use its positive benefits to make destinations better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.
Responsible tourism makes business sense because “The produce we sell is the people and environment – so we have an obvious interest in protecting them” Jane Ashton now Head of Sustainable Development at TUI Travel PLC. The RTD7 programme demonstrates the momentum that the responsible tourism agenda has achieved in Europe since the Cape Town Declaration in 2002.

Make your conference booking

New Responsible Tourism destination management plans for Australia

Food and wine and economic linksThe ICRT-Australia has recently completed two destination management plans which integrate progressive responsible goals and strategies for diverse regions of New South Wales.
The strategic planning processes involved several stages of research and community consultation. For Central NSW Tourism the plan incorporates the new European Commission Sustainable Destination Indicators; while for Kangaroo Valley (South Coast NSW)  and the ICRT-Australia’s used its ‘Travelopoly’, game as a method to encourages tourism providers and community member creatively plan for the future.

Central NSW Destination Management Plan

Central NSW Tourism Appendices

Kangaroo Valley DMP September 2013

 

The marketing case for sustainability – ICRT-Australia to present at the National Tourism & Events Excellence Conference 2013

Christopher Warren will be presenting his paper providing practical insights for small and medium tourism enterprises at this year’s National Tourism & Events Excellence Conference.

Responisble Tourism Consultant

Christopher Warren

The paper is entitled ‘The marketing case for sustainability: promoting quality and a better experience’. The following synopsis explains that sustainability has been seen as a niche market and only appealing to ‘green tourists’, yet we need tourism to become much more sustainable and appealing to a larger market. How can we turn our responsible practices into customer winning initiatives that appeal to more visitors? Christopher will present his Australian research findings to demonstrate what appeals to a broad cross section of Sydneysiders, how this applies to an accommodation provider in NSW (case study) and shows UK examples of successful ways to promote sustainability as a visitor benefit. The aim of the presentation is to show you can deliver excellence through sustainability by generating higher customer satisfaction whilst minimising negative and maximising positive impacts from your business or for your community. Learn what visitors think of eco-friendly tourism, how to use responsible practice to promote quality and generate a better destination.
The National Tourism &Events Excellence Conference aims to showcase business excellence to encourage professional, sustainable and commercially prosperous future for tourism and events.
The ICRT – Australia will form one of three core papers a in special section of tourism sustainability on Tuesday 23 July afternoon.

Bush Fire Risk Management for Tourism

The impact of bush fires is having a negative effect on tourism’s environmental sustainability – courtesy of the Australian Geographic Magazine

Christopher Warren, director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism argued the case for prevention and preparedness measures and policies that could also improve the visitor experience in his speech at the Local Government New South Wales Tourism Conference 12th March 2013, Port Stephens. In this supporting paper (link below) Christopher discusses the vulnerability of tourism at a grass roots level from the threat of bush fires and encourages tourism professional to engage  operators to protect their business and community through the incentive of creating better tourism experiences which involve prevention and preparedness. He also outline policy initiatives that government and peak body groups could implement to help make tourism safer and better.

Bush Fire Risk Management & Tourism Product Development Paper 5