Leave No Trace and your Tourism and Hospitality BusinessJan 19, 2022
There can be a misconception that Leave No Trace merely means to pick up any rubbish after us, however it means much more than that. It is an ethos and guide to responsible outdoor ethics and to protecting not only our natural environment, but also our rich heritage. How does this affect your tourism and hospitality business? In fact, it has quite a substantial impact. In a 2019 Fáilte Ireland study, it was shown that 82% of international tourists stated that the natural, unspoilt environment of Ireland was why they chose it as a destination to visit. If our visitors are coming for that reason, isn’t it our duty to uphold, maintain and be guardians of our land? If not for them, then most definitely for ourselves and our local community. The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace are a guide to how we can best safeguard our magnificent Emerald Isle. As tourism and hospitality businesses and bodies, we have the ability to create a long-lasting, educational ripple effect through spreading the message of Leave No Trace with our staff, our visitors and with the larger community.
What are the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace?
The Principles of Leave No Trace cover 7 different areas where we and our visitors can act responsibly and have minimal impact when in the outdoors. With the current increase in both domestic and international tourists seeking outdoor activities and exploring the landscape, it highlights the importance of raising awareness of these principles.
How to promote the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace in your tourism or hospitality business?
There are several ways your business can promote the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace. As mentioned before, more and more visitors are seeking outdoor activities such as walks, cycle routes, Greenways, Blueways and other water-based activities. Tour guides and outdoor operators can have the biggest impact in educating visitors and sharing long-lasting learnings that they can bring home. However, your business does not necessarily have to be specifically outdoors-based. Your business may be a hotel that actively raises awareness of these principles by educating guests when they do venture out. The more visual reminders, the more these principles will be recognised and normalised. Offering booklets, leaflets and other such resources can be great educational tools.
Your staff can also actively promote the message of Leave No Trace with your visitors. Leave No Trace is an Outdoor Ethics Educational Programme and offers an array of training and resources. Encourage your staff members to engage with the Leave No Trace Awareness Course where they will gain a comprehensive understanding of the 7 Principles. They could also further their training and go on to become a trainer. Organising Leave No Trace litter picks where the Leave No Trace message can be shared is another example of actively promoting the Principles within your business and the wider community.
How to promote the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace in your destination?
Incorporating the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace into the messaging and marketing of your destination can have a powerful impact on the greater community and local environment. Through collaboration with Leave No Trace, community groups and local events, the message can be spread throughout the community and destination. A key area to cover prior to implementing the Leave No Trace ethos is education. Visitors and residents need to familiarise themselves with the messaging of Leave No Trace, otherwise the lack of understanding can be counterproductive. For example, if a destination follows the “pack it in, pack it out” policy, (which means anything you leave home with, you bring home too), visitors who are commonly used to seeing an array of bins in the area may complain about the lack of them. It is important that messaging and signage is explained and that it is made easy for visitors to understand. During the Summer of 2021, members of the Burren Ecotourism Network offered guests branded tote bags to encourage them to collect rubbish when they were out or at least to pack in what they packed and brought out with them. Our visitors want to be proactive, they want to participate and engage and if they feel their visit has had a positive impact on the place that they are visiting they will go home satisfied and with a few stories to tell their loved ones.
Each month I will be giving a breakdown of each of the principles of Leave No Trace and sharing examples of how you can incorporate them and raise awareness of them in your tourism or hospitality business or destination. Keep an eye out for the next blog which will cover Principle 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare.
Aoibheann is a certified Leave No Trace Trainer with a passion for the outdoors. Follow her future blogs on more ecotourism-related topics.
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