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A Phased Approach to the Super Six of Better Tourism

better tourism regenerative tourism sustainable tourism

This is the fourth article in our 2021 Super Six of Better Tourism series. Last week’s installment looked at how the Super Six of Better Tourism can be translated into commitments or statements of intent for your tourism business. It pointed to the importance of your business being mindful of each element of the Super Six and highlighted some of the actions that might fall under each one. Here’s a quick reminder:


 So far so theoretical, eh?

And isn’t that always the case with this discussion on sustainable tourism, I hear you say! There’s no problem signing up to the principles. In fact, it’s kind of hard to argue with any of them. Yet the practical questions always persist.  What do I actually do? Where do I start? Does anything I do make a difference? Who cares anyway? How much will all of this cost and can I afford it?

Like eating an elephant, the only way to start your sustainability journey is to take the first step. This article explores a phased approach to getting started and getting going with The Super Six of Better Tourism Business.


A 6-Phase Approach

  1. Take the Lead

If this is a new area of interest in your business or if you don’t have any in-house experience in this area, then invest in your ability to lead. Sustainability is a journey which demands transition and transformation. Strong leadership is required to bring this about. Before you start ‘greening’ in a piece-meal way, allow a little time for your or your senior manager to raise your understanding of the full sustainability agenda so you can, in turn, lead with clarity and confidence. Sources of knowledge and insight include google (endless material available), experts who publish articles on LinkedIn, sustainability conferences and seminars, government policy papers, training programmes, mentors and coaches, other businesses who have already made strides in this area.


  1. Take Stock

Experience has shown me that most tourism businesses are already doing quite a lot to limit any negative impacts of their activities and are doing even more that adds benefit to their community, the visitor or their local heritage.  Eliciting and identifying all that you already do is a great exercise as it gives confidence for the journey ahead. Equally, having a critical self-audit of elements of the Super Six that you perhaps don’t give too much attention to is very useful. Areas for attention become obvious and you and your team start to see the direction of travel for the future. Step back, take a fresh look at your business through a sustainability lens and see what emerges.


  1. Take Aim

Following your stock-take, you will be well positioned to map out a Year 1 Sustainability Action Plan. This is where you take your Tier 1 Set of Actions and commit them to paper. What are Tier 1 Actions? These are the actions emerging from your stock-take that could be considered as both ‘high impact’ and ‘low cost’.  Treat this like any other Action Plan you might create. If it’s going to work, you will need to be very specific about the actions, identify the timeline within which they will be completed, name who is responsible for completing them and also highlight resources required to achieve them. Like in all other areas of your business, this is how your turn your aspiration into a project plan.  

Afterwards, move on to your Tier 2 activities which may have relatively greater costs or relatively less impact. What about projects that will take longer than a year? Identify them as 2/3 year projects and write in the actions that you can take in Year 1 to progress them.


  1. Take a Stand

Once you’ve taken a few steps and delved deeper into your own practices, you’ll be ready to define your position on ‘Sustainability’. Establish what it is you stand for, what’s most important to you and your team and where you plan to concentrate your activity to make the most impact. Visitors, trade, your team and trade partners all want to know! This requires some form of Statement or Charter or Policy that clearly articulates what you and your business stand for.  It is essential for everyone in your business to be on the same page so go ahead and create the page! It’s best to go for personable, everyday language that reflects the culture of your people and your business, rather than the abstract language usually associated with policy documents.


  1. Take Action

Now you have a plan and a policy, give attention to establishing a plan-do-review cycle, setting up effective meetings, doing ongoing cost-benefit analysis, reporting on progress and maintaining momentum and engagement within your team. Retain a focus on providing support and leadership throughout the process, celebrating wins and identifying next steps.


  1. Take Pride

Once you’ve taken some actions of substance, achieved some impact and grown your confidence in the direction you’re taking, go out there and communicate your actions with pride and authenticity, with confidence that it will stand up to external scrutiny. Build up your sustainability credentials through special projects, awards and maybe even suitable certification. You don’t have to wait until the end however. It’s a great idea to involve marketing from the outset and throughout ever step of the sustainability journey. It is a journey of continuous improvement and telling that story as it unfolds is one of the keys to successful marketing in this area.


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The newsletter, Public Sector Tourism Monthly, contains curated insights and inspiration from here in Ireland and from around the world, with a particular emphasis on sustainable, regenerative and collaborative themes.   

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