If you are not working to benefit sustainability, now is a good time for your company to join the global green trend. The reason is very simple. More people and tourists have a greater awareness about the importance of caring for the planet. They express it in their search for environmentally friendly products and services. This is a great reason to renew your business strategy and turn it into an ecological enterprise with high profitability!
Tourism should be managed with sustainability in mind because in European and North American markets, consumers live on a day-to-day basis with sustainable practices that they want to find in the destinations they visit.
“There is a widespread trend where more tourists are seeking destinations with a more natural and sustainable approach. The preferred destinations in Nicaragua are the natural reserves, the islets of Granada, colonial cities and beaches. They also request environments that include culture and activities, “said Olga Ortiz Kurashvili, product and marketing manager for VaPues Nicaragua Tour, who caters mostly to European tourists in addition to US and Canadian citizens.
She emphasized that tourists like to learn about chocolate, tobacco and tortillas and that they do not like to visit restaurants where animals are caged. They prefer to see them in their natural habitat.
Ian Coronel, executive director of the Pellas Business Center Foundation says “Tourism entrepreneurs should stop seeing sustainability as something that only happens in natural or rural environments. Sustainability is linked to economic viability and social impacts that benefit the community providing opportunities, while leaving the smallest footprint in the environment. Environmental sustainability pays and generates greater economic and social profitability “.
He explains that tourists are increasingly choosing destinations based on distinctly environmental variables. “Visitors demand real evidence of tourism sustainability, especially Europeans who want to know if companies are doing something positive for the environment. They will not leave their mark on something that damages the environment, and even prefer to pay a little more. We understand that the market is seeking destinations that take care of the environment while also fulfilling social responsibilities, and we must not abstain from this”.
Coronel notes, that the Pellas Business Center has worked with more than 2 thousand companies across the country. Records show, that small and medium-sized tourism companies have the desire to improve quality, but are not very aware of the characteristics or behaviors of the tourism market, nor the tourists who visit them.
He considers that investing in sustainability processes is expensive, but it is also very profitable, and should be mandatory. “Every company must know how to handle its sewage, residual water, biodegradable products, recycling, and garbage. If entrepreneurs understood that they must be responsible with all facets of production and that the logic of the visitor is the protection of the planet, they would have a higher consciousness of the importance of the environment. Until now, it has not been considered a priority. It has not been understood that sustainability is something that can be marketed and that is very well purchased. The existing 306 Law is aimed at the basic care of hotels and restaurants. However, there is no initiative for the natural environment, nor the culture, so no one promotes it.
He recommends that every employer keep a record of environmental and social responsibility. That makes a difference between the companies that apply and those that do not.
SOS WITH THE TRASH
The executive director of the Pellas Business Center indicates that we could be losing the battle of environmental sustainability due to poor trash management. “It’s a pity that beautiful places are full of trash. We visit places in the country that instead of being a beautiful experience, is a rather frightening one because people are taking the garbage out to the street. It is not getting buried, burnt, or collected. We must do something for the country. Nobody comes to see a dump. That cannot be, and will destroy us. ”
Coronel believes that only by educating children will a change be achieved. “A child is the new voice, the new consciousness, and needs a comprehensive set of educational values and principles. We must understand that every day that passes and that we do not make the change, other countries are doing it. ”
EXAMPLES TO FOLLOW
In Nicaragua, entrepreneurs take their first steps towards sustainability. Six tour operators (Careli Tours, DETOUR Travel and Culture, Grayline, Gold Travel, Solentiname Tours and Vapues Nicaragua Tour) have organized and formed “Tops Nicaragua ” (Tour Operators Promoting Sustainability) certified by the Rainforest Alliance. The hotels have also jumped on board the sustainability train.
Find out what they are doing:
They invested $ 2 million in a solar park with panels and a battery component to store the energy. They currently produce all the energy that the development consumes during the day and 30% of the energy consumed at night, Said Alan Vílchez, Director of Engineering and Development at Tola Development Group.
Another of the actions in favor of the environment in this development is to separate the trash (plastic, glass and cardboard) in order to recycle.
They also have organic produce inside the property. “Many of the foods that are consumed in the three restaurants and cafeteria are grown in our fields. We breed pig and pelibuey in order to produce meat and its derivatives, a chicken farm for egg production and dairy cattle for the production of milk and different types of cheeses. There are about 2,500 pounds produced per month of vegetables, green leaves, vegetables and organic herbs. Next year we will begin harvesting lemons. The fertilizers used for these crops are organic and made in Rancho Santana, ” comments Vílchez.
The hot water used in the rooms is generated using renewable energy through solar collectors. “We measured the use of hot water per guest in 2006. This led us to be an excellent candidate for a pilot project project called Nicatech in 2008. This project was based on the design and installation of heating systems for heating water utilizing solar energy. The total value of the investment was 22 thousand dollars, a part was a contribution of the Austrian Cooperation that was in charge of the project and was executed by Tecnosol under the supervision of Austrian engineers. Today we have 32 square meters of solar collectors and a reserve of 2,000 liters of hot water.
Mansión Teodolinda is a hotel for business travelers where guests will find signs to leave towels on the rack to indicate if they will use it for another day, as well as signs asking guests to turn off the air conditioning and lights when leaving the room.
It is also constantly recycling toner cartridges, burned oil used in the kitchen, used tires, automotive batteries and obsolete electronics, among others. ” Teodolinda Mansion is commitment to recycling. It has been difficult to find serious counterparts to establish work commitments. For example, the used oil took four attempts in order to form an alliance. Between one failed attempt, and another, we accumulated many gallons of oil. Another case, is aluminum and plastic. We do not generate attractive amounts of plastic or aluminum for recycling companies, so part of our job is to take them to the companies that recycle. We donate recycled paper. ”
Yemaya Island Hideaway & Spa
This hotel has invested more than five thousand dollars in the treatment of its residual water to be fully biodegradable. Through a system called “piranhas” that consists of using the bacteria that are deposited in a septic tank, and kept alive by means of an oxygenation system, these “piranhas” are in charge of consuming everything solid by turning it into liquid. Once treated these waters serve for irrigation. The maintenance of this system has a monthly cost of fifteen thousand córdobas.
The hotel discourages the use of plastic containers, and the organic waste from the kitchen is used as fertilizer in their gardens. It also encourages and reinforces good environmental practices among its associates through constant training.
It also incorporates local small businesses to participate in plastic recycling campaigns. The plastic is sent on a weekly basis to the recycling center located in Corn Island.
Trip Advisor has awarded them the “Green Leader” platinum level distinction for their good environmental practices.
Va Pues Nicaragua Tours
Meyling Nicaragua, Manager of Operations and Sustainability for this tour operator, indicates that sustainability is incorporated in all of their operations and maintains a permanent record of the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) caused by their operations. “We take concrete actions to reduce and offset GHG emissions. In our facilities we use natural light and ventilation “.
They also have an action plan for saving and rationing their use of water and electricity. Setting savings goals begin at the time of purchasing more efficient items. All is properly monitored. “We include clients, associates, and the general public in our efforts to save in water and electricity consumption, and avoid the use of disposable materials. Its collaborators have been trained in waste management (reduction, reuse, recycling) and have an environmental education plan.
WHAT THE LARGE CHAINS DO
The international hospitality industry has discovered that being ecologically active, conserving natural resources, using renewable energy and recycling is good business while lowering hotel operating costs.
Hilton Worldwide affirms it has saved 53 million dollars since 2009, in their use of electricity and water as well as waste recycling. More than 4,500 Hilton properties have achieved certification from the International Standardization Organization, a sustainable building certification as important as LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design).
“Hilton Worldwide” is the first global company dedicated to hospitality that earns the ISO certificate of energy management, environmental management and quality management for all its hotels.
Hyatt Hotels has monitored its global use of water and energy since 2006. Its goal is to reduce water usage by 25 percent by 2020. More than 80 percent of Hyatt hotels have already recycled at least one or more of their channels of waste. The company also requires that all new construction be LEED certified.
Marriott Hotels & Resorts was the first major hotel chain in the United States that in 2005 designed and built a LEED-certified hotel. The company’s ongoing LEED program can save hotels 25 percent of their water and electricity consumption over the life of buildings so that investments can be recovered between two and six years.