What is a sustainability Action Plan and why is it important for tour operators?
Good question. A sustainability action plan in tourism holds significant value by promoting responsible practices that benefit the environment, host communities, travelers, and the industry as a whole. It fosters long-term sustainability, enhances reputations, and positions destinations and businesses for success in an increasingly eco-conscious and socially aware travel landscape. Following the Travelife Partner philosophy & embracing their guidelines we have decided to make our policy public. Below are our three main targets.
Monitoring and Evaluating our Sustainability Action Plan
- Target one: Reduce overall energy consumption
Reduce energy consumption by 5% for year 2023 compared to 2022 and 2022 compared with 2019.
Check the monthly consumption and compare it against the same time period. I.e. compare the 2022 consumption again 2019 (last “normal year”) and compare 2023 against 2022. Calculate the percentage increase or decrease. Compare it with the number of departing tours so that the changes are understandable. An increase in tours will likely mean an increase in energy consumption.
If there is an overall change + or – in the years compared to the number of tours, then we will know if we have succeeded in reducing our energy consumption. If the increase in consumption correlates to the same percentage increase in tours, then it is considered to have no change.
- Target two: Reduce purchasing
Measured by: reduce purchasing by 15% over 3 years for the existing tours and existing operations of Wandering Owl.
- Take monthly stocktakes and document the missing or damaged equipment.
- Check guides are correctly completing their tour logs and informing the office and logistics’ team of missing or damaged equipment.
- Schedule adequate time for logistics personnel to repair or repurpose damaged equipment.
- Document the equipment that has been repaired or repurposed.
- Provide adequate training for guides and drivers for handling, storing, and using the equipment.
- Compare the real expenses incurred for missing and list equipment in previous seasons against this season. Document changes.
- Work with employees to help their perspectives and attitude on respecting company property to change.
Analyse changes in the expenditure for existing tours and the documents for repurposed equipment. The analyse will show us if we have been successful at reducing our purchasing.
- Target three: Reduce food impact (waste, food miles)
Measured by: a reduction in the amount of food purchased and, in the amount disposed of, in kilograms. Measured by a comparison of ingredients used and wasted per soup portion.
- Check the monthly consumption and compare it against the same time period. I.e. compare the 2022 consumption again 2019 (last “normal year”) and compare 2023 against 2022.
- Calculate the percentage increase or decrease.
- Compare this calculation with the number of departing tours so that the changes are understandable. An increase in tours directly impacts an increase in energy consumption.
- Continually update and document which ingredients are from Scandinavia in our “Ingredients – tour food” spread sheet and ensure their origin is correct. The ingredients are given an Ethical Score. The Ethical Score is based on how far they have traveled, how water intensive their growth was and also if they release (or sequester) methane or CO2 into the atmosphere during their lifetime. The lower the score, the more appropriate the ingredient is to be used.
- Weigh food waste at the end of each day. Document this.
If there is an overall change + or – in the years compared to the amount of tours, then we will know if we have succeeded in reducing our food waste. If the increase in consumption correlates to the same percentage increase in tours, then it is considered to have no change.
If the ingredients score a low Ethical Score, we’ll know that we are succeeding in reducing our food miles. If the score is high, Wandering Owl must readvise their meal options.
- Target four: Contribute to local community by contributing to research (increase positive impact on community)
Measured by: Number of collaborations – indicates contribution by gathering knowledge, data and funding for local research partners, number of publications that include our data, resource or other input, better practices within tourism around the Tromsø region regarding Tundra damage (decrease in damage).
- Using our tour logs to collect data on the frequency that guides can execute data collection on tours, on the guests interests and degree of participation, on how frequently the data collected is compromised.
- Collecting data on guest feedback forms to determine if they feel Wandering Owl educated them on a problem that requires solving and if they feel impacted by the problem and motivated to support solving it, if they report an increase in trust in science.
Raising awareness happens before data collection.
- Monitoring this data alongside the real raw data collected by the citizen scientists (guides, tourists).
When tour logs and feedback forms indicate that citizen science is conducted on over 85% of tours in a year and over 80% of participants feel some degree of transformation from this, then it’s concluded that we are reaching the target.
Reduction in the number of recorded conflict reports between locals and tourism operators.
- Target five: Increase seasonal employee retention
Measured by: increase in returning seasonal employees to an average of 3 seasons (not necessarily consecutive seasons). Increase in scores for employee engagement on our Intention to Return surveys.
- Using validated surveys to collect quantitative data on employees intention to return and analysing this data to uncover if the employees are having and increased or decreased intention to return. The survey measures Intention to return, employee engagement and motivation.
- If there is an increase in the employees intention to return to Wandering Owl from the results of the survey analysis, Wandering Owl will know that they have successed at increasing this. However, these intention to return results must be compared to the actual retention rate to understand for sure if the action plan is working.
If the average length of employment at Wandering Owl becomes three seasons then we will know we have achieved this.