Leave No Trace and your Tourism and Hospitality Business - Be Considerate of OthersFeb 23, 2022
When thinking of Leave No Trace, many only consider the physical trace or impact they leave behind, such as waste or litter. Another important impact that tourism in particular can have is what a tourist’s visit can have on the local community and way of life of the area they are visiting. When in the outdoors, it is important to be considerate of others. This includes everyone, from locals to visitors and farm animals to wildlife. This blog will cover how your tourism or hospitality business can educate your staff and visitors on being considerate to others when exploring your local environment.
With activities such as walking and cycling becoming increasingly popular, it is important that our visitors are aware and informed of how and where they can roam. In 2019, €63 billion was earned in Europe through cycling tourism alone and 4 in 10 people were getting out here in Ireland to walk 5 times a week - a figure that has significantly increased in the last couple of years. In fact, according to Fáilte Ireland, the number of adults walking for recreation is up from 65% in 2019 to 76% in 2021. Cycling and walking have and are incrementally becoming two very popular ways to visit an area, meet local people and experience the local culture while being outdoors. Currently, however, Ireland does not have a law by which we have freedom to roam, other than in National Parks, so it is important that our visitors are informed where they can explore and that they realise rural landowners have given right of way to them. That way they can make a conscious effort to respect the land they have been given access to, the animals that graze there and the communities that live there.
This is also relevant to the many rural roads around Ireland. Depending on where your visitors are coming from, such as cities and urban areas, it is possible that they may need a reminder of what side of the road to walk on to ensure their safety with oncoming traffic, especially at the many picturesque narrow bends and crossings dotted around our beautiful Emerald Isle. Though these bends are Instagram picture-worthy, much like the sharp turn down from the Cliffs of Moher where both the beautiful Burren rock and Aran Islands come into view, stopping can cause obstruction, or much worse an accident.
What this means for your tourism and hospitality business?
Just as you will see with all the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace as we journey through them, each Principle relates back to the first, ‘Plan Ahead and Prepare’, which we covered in my previous blog. This is where your role comes in. You as a tourism or hospitality business can raise awareness and educate your visitors and staff on how they can be more considerate of others in the outdoors. Here are a few more pointers to consider:
1. Be considerate of other outdoor users
We are blessed with the abundant selection of outdoor activities and nowadays we are seeing more and more people enjoying the outdoors and new activities. So much so that since the pandemic began. approximately 1 in 6 have taken up a new activity. More people in the outdoors means there are more diverse groups too. Some outdoor users can be more active and experienced in the outdoors than others. Some may practice more extreme sports while others might be nervous or more sensitive to big crowds, the wilderness and fast paced bicycles, for example. You can remind your guests to be patient and compassionate of others in the outdoors and respect that everyone has a right to get out into nature, just as they do.
2. Be considerate of noise
An important point to make is that we are allowed to have fun in the outdoors. Of course we are! It is there to be enjoyed and we can find the ultimate enjoyment through being prepared and respecting the environment and natural heritage that, in the end, is what our tourists are coming to experience. Being considerate of others also means being conscious of our noise levels. Playing loud music, shouting and other such noises can frighten wildlife and animals, as well as other users who may have sensitive hearing and could feel nervous by loud noises. What is more, your visitor can have a deeper experience of the outdoors by taking in all it’s natural sounds. Invite them to do that.
3. Be considerate of our natural light
One reason for people escaping to the outdoors is to disconnect from the fast life, the big lights and the hectic noises. Heavy use of devices such as mobiles and electronic games can be intrusive on other outdoor users and animals. Encourage your guests to take a detox from their gadgets and immerse themselves more into nature.
4. Be considerate of car parking
When visiting rural areas, it is possible that visitors cannot avail of a lot of parking. Encouraging carpooling or offering a shuttle service would minimise this impact and lower the possibility of local residents becoming aggravated.
5. Be kind
There is nothing like receiving a smile from a friendly face when you are having a tough day. Encourage your visitors and staff to be friendly, welcoming and helpful with other outdoor users. Spread the awareness of respecting the outdoors and spread the love for them too.
This is merely a guide to help you, your destination and your tourism and hospitality business to raise awareness of the second Principle of Leave No Trace - Be Considerate of Others. More points may come to mind. Here at The Tourism Space™ we offer Leave No Trace Awareness Courses as part of our training programmes. During these 1-day courses in the outdoors, we explore the 7 Principles and how we might have an impact on our natural environment and heritage. To learn more about this service you can contact us here.
Aoibheann is an accredited Leave No Trace trainer and delivers Awareness Courses as part of destination development training programmes. You can learn more about previous destination development training programmes here.
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