We hear terms such as “sustainable” and “eco-friendly” across various industries as the green movement becomes more relevant than ever. In the travel industry, both tourists and service providers have more social and environmental consciousness now, which is actually a good thing.
Before delving into the topic of sustainable tourism, let us familiarize ourselves first with the terms “eco-friendly” and “sustainable.” Are they different? Do they mean the same thing? Let’s check.
Eco-Friendly vs. Sustainable
Eco-friendly/ environmentally friendly/ earth-friendly simply means not harmful to the environment. It commonly pertains to products that add to green practices that help conserve resources such as water and energy.
On the other hand, sustainability relates to methods of using natural resources without causing a depletion or permanent damage.
Both of these terms are broad, but they fundamentally have the same underlying concept. If a product or service labels itself sustainable or eco-friendly, it utilizes materials that are recycled or renewable resources.
What Is Sustainable Tourism
Sustainable tourism means taking full responsibility for the current and future environmental, economic, and social impacts. Over 87 percent of international travelers prefer to travel sustainably, and 4 in 10 agree that they always manage to do so.
Being in the real estate rental business means playing your part in the global green movement for the good of the present and future generations. With this said, here are some suggestions on how your vacation rental property can support sustainable tourism:
#1 Give Back to the Community
One aspect of sustainable tourism is focusing on the local economy. Opt to invest your profits in the local community to preserve and protect the locality that your guests are staying for vacation. The investment could come in different forms such as purchasing local products, hiring local contractors for maintenance and repair, and giving to a local charity.
#2 Hire Local Staff
Aside from investing money in the local community, your vacation rental property could be a source of livelihood for locals. Running a rental business means needing to hire cleaning services, pool maintenance, and a gardener. Instead of looking for big companies, hire local, independent contractors to do the job.
#3 Source Locally
Another way of supporting sustainable tourism is to source supplies for your vacation rentals locally. From fresh fruits and delicacies to handcrafted furniture and antique finds, buy from local suppliers instead. This will reinforce the local economy, which further helps improve the living conditions of the locals. You may even encourage your guests to check these local items while they are around.
#4 Conserve Energy & Water
When we talk of earth-friendly and sustainability, energy and water conservation immediately comes to mind.
Energy consumption makes up almost 60 percent of our carbon footprint. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy and cheap tricks and practices you can implement to make your vacation rental into an eco-friendly haven. Consider using energy-efficient lighting and Energy Star-rated appliances. Solar panels are also great investments you should consider.
As for water conservation, simple tasks involving water audits and leak repairs could help promote sustainability. Encourage your guests to ensure they turn off all faucets when not in use and to only run the washing machine or dishwasher when full.
#5 Recycle Waste
Providing a clear and easy-to-sue recycling option for your guest is a step towards an earth-friendly vacation rental property. Set your recycling protocol by assigning separate bins for various types of waste, including organic, paper, plastic, and glass. Highlight to your guest the value of following this recycling protocol.
#6 Opt for Green Construction Materials
Whether you are building a new structure on your vacation rental property or remodeling an existing one, opt to use eco-friendly materials such as bamboo, recycled steel, and reclaimed wood. Aside from its low operation and maintenance cost, eco-friendly construction materials enhance indoor environment quality.
Build an organic garden filled with local plants, fruits, and vegetables. Native plants require less water and effort than imported ones. For your outdoor living space, opt for concrete custom-designed backyard patios as concrete has the lowest carbon footprint for a structure.
#7 Encourage Guests to Commute
Lastly, urge your guests to utilize public transportation and shuttles to get around. This simple act of commuting helps reduce one’s carbon footprint. Plus, taking public transportation allows your guests to experience the everyday lives of the local people. Also, an eco-friendly approach to your vacation rentals is to provide bicycles as an extra amenity.
These baby steps towards making your vacation rental eco-friendly and sustainable can lead to further cutting long-term costs while adding a dash of personality to your property. As more and more travelers opt for greener vacation rentals, it is high time to evaluate your rental property.