Environmental concerns continue to shape global conversations and the concept of sustainable tourism is transitioning from being a niche trend. It is becoming a mainstream requirement and hearing the call for sustainable luxury travel – Hobart hotels have reacted. Consequently, old and new hotels in Hobart are diligently ticking boxes to meet the ‘sustainability’ criteria.
Sustainability isn’t a new trend, but it’s gaining traction in the travel industry. Travellers are increasingly conscious of the need to protect natural and cultural heritage. Consequently they are prioritising eco-friendly practices and supporting the ‘local’ economies of the destinations they visit.
According to Expedia’s Traveler Value Index 2023, 90 per cent of consumers now look for sustainable options when travelling They claim that half are willing to pay more for sustainable lodging. Booking.com’s Sustainable Travel Report 2022 reflected the same trend.
Recognising this shift in consumer sentiment, media and travel organisations have been quick to respond. The big ATOs (booking.com , Expedia etc) quickly implemented sustainability ‘tick boxes’ on their platforms.
Top end travel agencies and individuals in particular now request, often require evidence of sustainable practices.
Enter the era of ‘conscious consumerism’ which demands transparency in all sectors, including tourism. Top end tourists are less constrained by cost. They wish to ensure that their travel investments go directly to support local communities and are not causing harm. They want commitment to environmental conservation, social inclusivity, and economic sustainability. And predictions are that businesses that can demonstrate this will earn customer trust and finanacial success in 2024.
Hotels management has jumped on the bandwagon of sustainable luxury travel – Hobart hotels have been ticking all the boxes. But at what cost?
It is easy to tick the boxes, to get the accreditation. Next order of straws – select paper. Reduce the number of times linens and towels are changed and washed. Use environmentally friendly cleaning provisions. Eliminate single use water bottle and offer water stations. And digital practices have virtually eliminated hard copy printing.
But is that all there is to the spirit of sustainability.
I am sceptical of ‘tick box’ accreditation. it is what managers do from their offices. It is not a top down, or indeed a bottoms up commitment to the spirit of sustainability.
The spirit of sustainability is surely a way of thinking, a way of living. And consequently it should inspire far more than a few ‘sustainable decisions’ made in isolation. It demands one comprehensive sustainable decision that is all embracing.
My parents were products of the Great Depression and WWII. I grew up in a household of re-use, re-cycle, re-purpose, ‘waste not want not’, “turn off the lights!” “turn the water off”, and supporting and being supported within one’s community. Sustainability wasn’t just a catch phrase, it was a way, a necessity of life.
We manage the Woodbridge in the same way -sustainably.
And all of our staff are locals. We employ locally, we buy locally and we support small local providers and suppliers.
Moreover, The Woodbridge is sustainable to its core. Purchased as a derelict building, belying its place in Tasmanian history, it was re-purposed as a small luxury hotel. Everything on site was re-used , repaired or re-cycled. We found and reinstated all but one of the original doors. Almost all of the Georgian windows and much of the original old float glass were saved. And we salvaged hand made bricks and hand-forged nails then re-used n unique commissioned unique artworks.
There is a growing demand for transparency. Travellers want to know that their money is supporting responsible tourism initiatives. So I trust that the thinking traveller will see past the ‘tick box’ mentality. I believe they will seek out businesses that demonstrate true commitment to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.