Leave No Trace and your Tourism and Hospitality Business - Plan ahead and prepareFeb 09, 2022
The first of the 7 principles of leave no trace is to plan ahead and prepare, or in other words to “know before you go”. This is an important principle which can ensure you have a low impact when in the outdoors. As we go through the principles in my blogs to follow, you may realise that they all relate back to this one. Covering our tracks for any possible or unforeseen events can be done by eliminating the chances of something going wrong, being prepared and planning ahead. Visualising the day in advance allows us and our visitors to enjoy their experience in the outdoors more while minimising damage to our land and natural heritage. Trip planning ensures the safety of your guests and gives them confidence in the outdoors. So, what can you do to raise awareness of the first principle of Leave No Trace?
What does this mean for your tourism and hospitality business?
Your business can raise awareness of the importance of planning ahead by informing your staff and visitors of the dangers that could happen and of the preventative measures that they can take. Some of the prevalent points to cover, in particular here in Ireland, are as follows:
It goes without saying that when international visitors come to Ireland, it isn’t for a sun holiday. In fact, it is for things like our beautiful scenery, our rich heritage and unspoiled landscapes - all the more reason to protect these! Inform your guests and staff about the forecasted weather and what attire they should wear to ensure their enjoyment. As the saying goes, there isn’t bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.
As we are discussing clothing, another important point comes to mind - footwear! We have some beautiful terrain here in Ireland between the vast fields of heather and marshy bogs and wetlands. These are areas that are blooming with biodiversity but being threatened by invasive species. Leave No Trace has launched a campaign to promote ways to stop the spread of invasive species called the ‘check, clean, dry, disinfect method’. Your business could raise awareness of cleaning your boots after use. If your business provides experiences on water, you could follow this method and ensure your equipment has been checked, cleaned, dried and disinfected after taking your visitors out for the day.
3. Regulations, Restrictions and Permits
This point is a no brainer for those tour operators who take their visitors off the beaten track, however, it is an important one to highlight for those in hospitality and accommodation, for example, to let their guests know where and where not to roam. The vast majority of Irish land is privately owned so we must ask for permission to pass. Also, for your guests who are dog owners, don’t forget to remind them where they should keep them on leads so as not to frighten wildlife and farm animals.
4. Group Sizes
The bigger the footfall, the bigger the impact. Capping group sizes to no more than 15 can prevent any negative impact on the ground your guests travel on.
5. Meal Planning
If you offer visitors meals for when they venture out, try to think of ways they can bring their rubbish home with them and reduce the waste that is offered in the lunch. This could be through providing bags for them to store their rubbish and reminding them to pack in what they pack out. Although some organic and food waste is biodegradable, it may not break down for several months or years, it is also unsightly to see. Make a reminder that throwing apple cores and feeding animals might have a negative impact too. We must keep our wild animals wild.
There will be more points that will come to mind for you, this is only a guide to get you thinking about how your destination or tourism and hospitality business can raise awareness of the first principle of Leave No Trace - plan ahead and prepare. We look forward to seeing your checklists!
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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