Update: As of April 22, 2019, Green Tourism Canada is now Sustainable Tourism.
While there are many ways your tourism businesses can reduce your carbon footprint within your operations, one of the biggest opportunities by far is related to transportation. As guests travel to your destination, as they enjoy their experiences, and even the travel choices made amongst your own staff.
Transportation is the largest contributor to global warming, and tourism contributes more than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, most of that coming from travel. Any tourism businesses looking to operate more sustainably must be taking steps to measure and reduce their carbon footprint. Plus, with carbon pricing coming or increasing in every province in Canada, it makes economic sense to start taking a closer look at your carbon footprint.
Even if you operate a tour bus, power boat or snowmobile tour company, like some of our Green Tourism Certified members, all tourism businesses can help by encouraging visitors to use less polluting options and the travel information you provide to your guests can influence them to make their journey with a lower carbon footprint. The Green Tourism Canada Criteria Checklist includes an entire section with good ideas related to travel and transportation, including policies and procedures to promote alternative modes of transportation for your guests and staff. We know not every business can do all of these things, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Provide clear and comprehensive information and encouragement about low carbon activities guests can enjoy on and offsite such as walking, running, cycling, canoeing, rafting, horseback riding, etc.
- Provide information on your website and brochures highlighting public transport options, including getting to and from your businesses, as well as travel within the destination
- If you have limited public transportation options, promote cycling and bike rentals, as well as walking opportunities and private group shuttles and busses that will carry many passengers at once
- Consider offering incentives to guests who choose to use public transportation, such as discounts, special gifts/service, etc.
- Provide electric car charging infrastructure for your guests and staff
- If you have a company vehicle or fleet, create a plan to move to electric vehicles as they become available
- If you operate watercraft, golf carts, ATVs, or other fossil fuel-powered vehicles, look for electric or high efficiency options whenever possible
- Ensure that your facilities are pedestrian and cyclist friendly, providing drying areas, repair tools and bench, secure storage, etc.
- Encourage your staff to use public transportation, carpooling, and offer incentives or monthly draws for those that do
- Consider offering staff an allowance for purchasing a bike or bus pass to offset parking requirements/pressure at your business
If you’re interested in measuring the carbon footprint of your business, try out ecobase Carbon Software, a super simple to use and very affordable online carbon tracking and measurement tool.
Once you’ve measured and begun reducing your carbon footprint, you might want consider becoming carbon neutral – it’s often much less costly than you think. We use Offsetters, a Canadian company. They also have a online calculator that lets your guests measure flight or vehicle emissions and then allowing them to purchase carbon offsets online to make their trip to and from your business carbon neutral.