The Business Case for Sustainability: Why Become Sustainable?
If your business is considering adopting more sustainable practices but you feel like it’s hard to justify the time you’ll need to implement them, read on to learn about the brilliant business case for sustainability.
Our world is changing rapidly, the time has come to make some serious changes to the way we live our lives and conduct our businesses. The urgency of climate change demands that we take action now. Those of us who work in the tourism sector must play our part. You’ll be relieved to hear that opting for sustainable tourism practices is not simply a selfless good deed; it has so many benefits for your business too. In this article, we lay out the business case for sustainability.
What is sustainable tourism?
The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) defines ‘sustainable tourism’ as, ‘Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.’
Tourism can have a very negative impact on both the natural environment and local communities. Overcrowding, damage to the natural world, and dilution of culture and heritage are just a few of its pitfalls. However, when it is managed correctly, tourism can positively contribute to sustaining culture, heritage, community and the environment. It can support local economies and promote preservation and regeneration of the natural world.
Given that the main drivers for people visiting Ireland is our unspoiled landscapes and unique heritage and culture, there has never been a better time, nor greater urgency, to protect our natural environment and turn these risks into opportunities. The businesses that work now to become sustainable will have a unique competitive advantage in the market and be well placed when sustainable tourism becomes fully mainstream.
Sustainability can give you a competitive edge
While one of the main benefits of becoming sustainable is the reduction of risk, more companies are using sustainability to create commercial opportunities and competitive advantage. Consumers are more conscious about their impact on the environment, and the relationship between human health and the health of the planet. They are demanding that the companies they buy from prioritise sustainability from both an environmental and social perspective. Yet businesses are often reluctant to place sustainability at the core of their business strategy in the mistaken belief that the costs outweigh the benefits. The reality is quite the opposite.
The main benefits of becoming a sustainable business are laid out in the graphic below:
Why Become Sustainable?
1. Increased Revenue
It is a common misconception that you either have to choose between profit or sustainability when in today’s world, you can have both. Your business can save money by monitoring and better managing its use of resources such as energy and water consumption, as well as waste production. If you’d like to learn more about how, sign up for membership with Sustainable Tourism Network and avail of our three waste, water and energy management courses for free.
2. Building Brand Loyalty and Reputation
According to research from Booking.com, almost three quarters (72%) of travellers believe that people need to make sustainable travel choices now to save the planet for future generations. Consumers are demanding sustainable, competitively priced, high-quality products and will support brands with integrity, social responsibility and sustainability at their core.
3. Decreased Operational Risks
Climate change poses significant operational risks to a business. Everything is interconnected. For example, when the impacts of climate change affect agriculture, this will have a knock on effect on production processes, then our supply chains and so on and so forth.
In Ireland specifically, tourism risks losing the very thing it depends on – nature. We need to focus our efforts on building businesses that are not only resilient in the face of climate change, but play their part in preventing the crisis from happening in the first place.
4. Employee Retention
Life post lockdown(s) has made people really think about what they want in life. When it comes to a career, people want to work for a company that has a culture, purpose and provides value to society. Companies that focus on sustainable practices tend to generate employee pride in the business and employees also feel part of something important. This then leads to benefits across the board in terms of productivity, loyalty and general morale.
The fact is that sustainability simply must be at the core of business strategies across all industries if we are to stand any chance in this fight against climate change.
Sustainable Tourism Network is a profit-for-purpose company. Our purpose is simple; we want to transform the Irish tourism industry into one that respects and protects the environment, but also supports local communities and makes better places for people to live and work in. Learn more about what we do here.