But what does it mean? Lots of things, but here’s a starter if you want to embark on a sustainability journey.
At DMT, we usually preface words like ‘visitation’ with the word ‘sustainable’. By this, we mean that our efforts – whether marketing or product development – to attract visitors must be done in a way that has a net benefit to the region.
We have all seen how ‘over tourism’ can wreck some of the world’s most attractive destinations, whether they are natural or urban environments. By driving ‘sustainable visitation’ what we mean is that we want people who come to the region, behave appropriately, and spend money in different parts of the region, in a variety of sectors.
We focus on attracting the overnight visitor above daytrip visitors. Why? They spend about five times as much. Having five million visitors a year (for context, our region gets over 3 million) who don’t spend any money with businesses and in the community will generally have a ‘net negative’ impact, regardless of how socially and environmentally aware they are. They wear out road, use the toilets, fill bins. If they buy a pie and coffee and leave, it’s of little value to us.
Most businesses want to behave in a socially and environmentally sustainable way. Even big corporations around the world set ESG targets these days. This is partly an exercise in improving their brand or corporate image, but it has also become embedded in good business practice. It is also linked to the sustainability of their own business. Corporations that behave poorly, are called out nowadays, and sustainable business practices often help the bottom line (like minimising energy use).
If you want to improve your sustainability, we recommend talking to Ecotourism Australia. Our CEO was on their Board a few years back and strongly believes in their mission. They can help guide you on your sustainability journey and the exercise in self-assessment is a great start.
Check them out here ecotourism.org.au