Here’s why sustainable tourism is the only way forward
If the prevailing crisis due to the coronavirus outbreak has taught us some valuable lessons, one of them would certainly be the imperative need for some turn to a new model of sustainable tourism.
At a time when all tourism industry leaders were confronted with an unprecedented and devastating tourist season, the opportunity for an open dialogue also arose, so that all stakeholders involved can proceed with laying the foundations for tourism in the post-COVID era. Inevitably, the focus of this open discussion is on investing in green destinations and businesses across Europe, as well as in policies/practices for natural resource management and providing incentives to accelerate the digital transformation of tourism businesses. It is no coincidence that the World Tourism Organization also turned its attention in this direction, by running relevant competitions during the pandemic, such as the SDGs Global Startup Competition.
The tourism industry is taking more and more action to become more sustainable, but there is still a long way to go. For tourism’s “next day”, a new model is emerging that predicts, among other things, the smallest possible impact on the environment. In view of the above, startups that specialize in promoting and supporting sustainable tourism, will play a leading role in the transition to the new era. Costa Nostrum and Respoguide are two such startups. It is worth mentioning that both teams have successfully completed CapsuleT’s Acceleration Program.
Read below what the co-founders of the 2 startups shared with us regarding the future of sustainable tourism.
⇒ According to your experience, which are the biggest challenges for the development of sustainable/green tourism in Greece? What is the current status of the ‘invasion’ of this type of tourism?
Costa Nostrum: The number of people looking for sustainable solutions, in terms of transportation, destinations, accommodations, etc., is rapidly increasing on an annual basis. From our perspective, the greatest challenge for the development of sustainable tourism is the need for all tourism stakeholders in Greece to understand as soon as possible – through appropriate training – the significant benefits of a sustainable tourism model, so that our country can become a pioneer and serve as a role model when it comes to sustainable tourism development, with a global impact.
Respoguide: During the last twenty years, there have been some important steps that have been taken in this direction, mostly from tourism businesses (and especially hotels) as well as from a small number of destinations. Nonetheless, the biggest challenge is definitely to highlight the importance of such an endeavor and to support a shift to high-quality, green and socially responsible products and services, whose adoption and implementation have only positive effects on the profitability of businesses and destinations. In this respect, it would ideally be necessary to promote the existing financial framework and to seek new ones, in the context of the post-COVID era.
⇒ How did COVID-19 affect a shift to a more sustainable tourism model? Which are your company’s goals from now on?
Costa Nostrum: COVID-19 quickly showed up the imperative need to focus on a sustainable way of life and tourism. Costa Nostrum, by playing a pioneering role once again, was one of the first organizations that created a new protocol toward a smooth and safe operation of the beaches, according to the new circumstances imposed by the pandemic. Taking into account the current situation, our goal is to draw the attention of all stakeholders to the fact that we have before us a unique chance to improve our tourism product for the benefit of all.
Respoguide: The careful analysis of a large number of studies and researches, which have already been carried out in Greece and abroad by tourism agencies and research centers, show that sustainable/green practices and services in tourism are the only way forward in the post-COVID era. This is a key feature in the new, more competitive context that is emerging for businesses and destinations across the globe. In view of the above, our team of experts keeps systematizing and increasing Respoguide’s visibility among tourism companies, while – at the same time – it analyzes and promotes the long-term profitability for businesses that adopt the approaches/practices advocated and proposed by Respoguide.
A few words about the 2 startups
Costa Nostrum – Sustainable Beaches is an innovative protocol for certifying the degree of sustainability of each beach, based on specific indicators and criteria that allow the sustainability classification and evaluation of a beach, through an objective scaling.
Through Respoguide, users are able to search for “green” businesses in the hospitality, food service and entertainment sector. Users can rate their experience and get rewarded with each visit. Respoguide gathers all eco-friendly businesses in one platform, giving them a more sustainable and responsible profile, aiming for the reduction of the ecological footprint.