Harness the Power of Sustainability for Your Destination

Find inspiration from DMOs implementing sustainability around the world.

September 19, 2022

More and more of today’s travelers are thinking about sustainability when planning for their next trip. We know that 87% of travelers are focused on sustainability and want to do good in the communities they're arriving in. Yes, product offerings and packaged experiences are important, but these travelers want to know their money is going to the right place. This means supporting your values as a destination, and knowing how your offerings and experiences impact the earth.

The Importance of Sustainability in Travel

  • Protects your local environment
  • Offsets the carbon footprint 
  • Improves the local community 
  • Boosts the local economy 
  • Eliminates added waste 
  • Conserves local energy 
  • Promotes a good habitat for local wildlife 

Making change around sustainability starts with reframing your goals around tourism. As destination marketers, growing visitation is crucial, but that growth affects the infrastructure, environment, local communities, and other economic sectors of your destination. Implementing new sustainability strategies will require dialogue, inclusivity, and collaboration with the communities you’re a part of. Then, you can learn what initiatives are important to your communities and get buy-in when you start implementing them.

DMOs Taking Meaningful Action in Their Destinations

Implementing real changes to make your destination sustainable takes a lot of strategy and planning. Start to think about what your destination will focus on, whether it’s food waste, conservation, transportation, or more. Find inspiration from these destinations that have worked with Sojern and are executing powerful sustainable initiatives: 

Swisstainable - Switzerland

  • With a focus on transportation, Switzerland has one of the most closely-knit rail networks in the world. Every day, 9,600 trains travel along the network, and even small and remote locations can be reached by public transport.
  • Switzerland is one of the world's leading countries in waste management with almost 95% of PET bottles being put into new use. They have also led the way in food waste management for years.
  • Their goal for travelers is to enjoy nature up close and to experience the local culture in an authentic way. They want them to consume regional products, stay longer, and take in more of the environment.

Explore Asheville - North Carolina, United States

  • Asheville adopted a Food Policy Action Plan (Resolution 17-257) for food waste recovery, composting, and redistribution. They want to feed the community, circulate money back into local economies, and free up landfills from unnecessary waste.
  • In terms of messaging and promotion, the city created the Save the Food Asheville logo that can be found on sanitation trucks, social media, and around town as they collaborate with community partners.
  • They focus on sharing tips and tricks around keeping food out of landfills and educating locals on how they can adopt these initiatives. They are sharing ways to reduce household food waste, pilot opportunities for community compost drop sites, and then elevating the message of food waste reduction initiatives in city facilities.

Visit Idaho - Idaho, United States

  • Visit Idaho is focused on caring for the outdoors and maintaining the natural beauty of the area. They created Recreate Responsibly Idaho (RRI), a group of state and federal land managers committed to providing educational resources to preserve Idaho's outdoor recreation.
  • They also promote sustainability efforts through social media and media outreach. Their messaging includes outdoor ethics on trash pickup, fire safety, wildlife-viewing precautions, and trail etiquette to inform travelers and locals alike. 
  • Separate from RRI, Visit Idaho also created Travel With Care, which focuses on three pillars–care for yourself, care for others, and care for Idaho.

Discover Puerto Rico

  • Discover Puerto Rico has learned that storytelling can bring sustainability initiatives to life. They're finding the right travelers to connect with locals, treat the community well, embrace the culture, and become repeat visitors.
  • They are consistently promoting health and safety in advertisements and working to reach conscientious travelers. They did this amidst the pandemic, and they're continuing to do it and evolve it in a sustainable way.
  • Discover Puerto Rico welcomes diverse travelers and tries to guide them off the beaten path. They inform travelers and make efforts to disperse them to the 77 different municipalities around the island to help those economies flourish, as well. 

Each of these DMOs focuses on different initiatives that best serve their visitors, locals, and environments. Sustainability for them is engrained in everything they do and they continue to find creative ways to promote it. It’s not just about keeping up with the newest trends anymore, it’s about taking care of what you have and getting the right messaging in front of travelers who are looking for sustainable experiences.

Resources for Taking Your Sustainability Initiatives Further

For more sustainability resources, our next blog in this series will include four ways to jumpstart sustainability in your marketing plans. You’ll gain an understanding of user-generated content and more examples of how DMOs are implementing sustainability around the world.

Until then, check out our sustainability webinar with Stephanie Dunford, sales director at Sojern, and Zoë Weldon, community growth lead at CrowdRiff to learn more.

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