Low-Impact Tourism Modeling
Maygutyak @ stock.adobe.com
Most of the time, large resorts utilize immense amounts of water, which negatively impact the surrounding biodiversity, and lack efficient recycling practices. This kind of tourism model is highly unsustainable and can have a profound impact on the climate. By using an internationally recognized standard for sustainable tourism such as the Green Globe certification, low-impact tourism modeling aims to incorporate a set of sustainable practices into tourism. This business model, currently practiced by companies like FairTrip, is committed to encouraging a style of travel that is environmentally, culturally, and socially responsible.
Through a sustainability management system, along with communication and implementation plans, including well-documented and transparent procedures, some methods to counteract environmental distress could be implemented. For instance, by establishing strict and careful standards of energy consumption, pollution, and emissions (which could be monitored through a Waste as a Currency framework), with long-term goals of energy independence, would help minimize the use of chemical substances that are commonly discharged without proper treatment, lower carbon emissions, buy less-harmful cleaning materials, paints, among others. Additionally, it could be useful for tourism businesses to evaluate other business approaches such as the one proposed by a Regenerative Economy and/or a Biobased Economy.
For design, construction, and planning, this tourism model would apply standards to avoid the introduction of non-native plant species in gardens, thus minimizing the disturbance of natural ecosystems, and supporting the use of local materials integrated with local design styles. Additionally, it would also establish standards over processes in reducing pollution, including sound and light pollution, as well as soil contamination. For example, wastewater could be efficiently treated and reused.
Beyond the Green Matter: Gentrification
The impact of tourism goes way beyond ecology; gentrification is one of the most pervasive side effects of urban tourism. In urban areas, the influx of humans to visit tourist attractions ends up setting in motion a process that increases rent and restaurant prices, ultimately forcing locals to move from their original homes to less expensive areas.
Low-impact tourism modeling could, in this sense, help government regulations and residential building cooperatives to ensure quality life standards to residents of historic neighborhoods by imposing limitations on short-term rentals and excluding specific properties and entire buildings from website listings.
Measuring and Certifying the Impact
Giving the urgency of lowering the impact of the tourism industry, one could imagine an automatic tool that could collect, compare, and measure all data points to sustainably improve tourism. By employing Blockchain Certificates, for instance, businesses can benefit from the transparency of this model. This could generate some overall sustainability score, awarded to each hotel, resort, or homestay experience. It would come down to tourists deciding to choose more sustainable accommodations over cheaper options. The influx of money into sustainable tourism models would force industry participants to adopt more eco-friendly practices.
Moreover, dynamic measurement of all sustainable practices could be implemented with IoT sensors that communicate and report to a database. This type of advancement could be used to corroborate a sustainability score (for instance, Sustainability Labels) or generate a real-time rating to be used by tourists in making their decisions regarding how to travel and where to go.
Finally, to further reduce carbon emissions associated with long-distance travel, resorts and communities can incentivize tourists to buy carbon credits equivalent to their flight emissions through local programs that directly help restore surrounding ecosystems. This could encompass even the surroundings of the resort and/or touristic stance to include them in a Low Emission Zone.