Unsurprisingly, all those holidaymakers using transport, accommodation, and services can have a significant environmental impact both locally and globally. Increased footfall can damage habitats and leave a significant mark on our fragile ecosystems.
Tourism-based businesses are now more aware than ever of the impact they are having on the planet and are taking steps to be more sustainable. This is not only for the environment but also to meet changing customer demands since recent studies suggest that as many as 87% of tourists now want to travel and experience the world more sustainably.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the definition of sustainable tourism is “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.” And for a business to be classed as sustainable, there are four pillars they should meet:
One great example of a business striving to follow the above principles is Alpine Nature Experience, a nature-based tourist retreat based in The Australian Alps.
Alpine Nature Experience is an accredited sustainable tourism business and has been working with Greenspark for just over a year. With their ‘leave no trace’ approach to their tourism business, they are charging forward and proving that sustainable travel is not only helping the environment but is also meeting changing consumer habits.
Offering intimate and sustainable nature-based experiences in Victoria's High Country, they aim to create memorable moments for guests while reconciling tourism and sustainability. Founded in 2017, they operate all year at their fully sustainable, off-the-grid eco-village, offering exclusive experiences in Winter and Summer as well as bespoke curated hikes.
Founder Jean-Francois Rupp had one goal when starting the company, to create an exclusive and adventurous snow experience unlike any other in the Australian Alps.
"For me, the snow is about much more than skiing; it's the magic of winter, the tantalising alpine food, the majesty of the mountains, the artist's palette in the snow gums, the breathtaking scenery, the fascinating history and just immersing yourself in nature.” - Jean-Francois Rupp
Sustainability is at the heart of Alpine Nature Experience, and their commitment to the environment is at the core of their brand value.
“We aim to reconcile tourism and the environment. Typically, tourism operations based in nature require some alteration of the physical environment. Eco-tourism mitigates this impact. We take it a step further to achieve a positive impact. We believe a positive net gain is the backbone of a long-term sustainable tourism product.” - Jean-Francois Rupp
Believing that transitioning to a sustainable model is the most complex challenge for existing businesses, Alpine Nature Experience was built around a sustainable model from the beginning.
“We designed and follow a strict environmental chart, far exceeding any eco-certification standards. Sustainability, off-the-grid energy and limiting any impact on surroundings are at the heart of this commitment.”
Currently, Alpine Nature Experience offsets the carbon and plastic footprint of each member of their team, as well as the emissions created by each of their visitors. Their Greenspark plan covers their car travel, emails and other web hosting activities.
In addition to this, they offset the carbon impact of all of their bookings as well as plant an additional five trees per guest.
Since joining Greenspark, they have offset over 52 tonnes of carbon, the equivalent of 56 roundtrip flights from London to Los Angeles. They’ve also planted 1,135 trees and rescued over 4,500 bottles worth of ocean-bound plastic.
Alongside bookings, they also plant one tree for every new email newsletter subscriber by integrating Greenspark with their MailChimp account
Together with Greenspark, Alpine Nature Experience also gives 1% of their annual sales towards tackling our planet’s most pressing environmental issues.
They had been looking at carbon offset and positive impact (tree planting etc.) for a long time. However, the process seemed difficult and not always straightforward.
“We wanted to ensure that we could have a high level of transparency and avoid any greenwashing initiative. Choosing Greenspark was the easiest decision! The team was super friendly, explained everything in detail and provided us with a tailored solution that’s so easy to implement. I regretted waiting so long before jumping onboard!”
Their customer feedback is very positive, with a 4.9-star rating on Google and another 4.9 stars on Facebook. Many of their reviews comment on their sustainable practices. Such as these:
“Our tours include an educational component to raise awareness about sustainability and environmental impacts. We leverage our positive impact to encourage our guests to reflect on their practices at home and hopefully adopt a more sustainable way of life.”
Plus, since launching the new initiative to make impact for every new email subscriber, alongside a new website, Alpine Nature Experience has seen around a 15% increase in newsletter subscribers.
Tourism can often have a hugely negative impact on the planet and the communities it’s taking place in. Yet, Alpine Nature Experience is really proving that this doesn’t have to be the case with their progressive stance and being founded on Planet-first principles.
For the eco-conscious mind, guilt-free travel is not yet a reality. Right now, our travelling will always have an impact. However, ANE is a shining example to other tourism operators that there is an abundance of ways they can continue to serve tourists well, give customers a fantastic experience, and follow a 'leave no trace' approach simultaneously.
Greenspark is proud to support and follow ANE on their journey to educating the tourism industry on all the possible ways they can be more environmentally aware. We're thrilled to be a part of Jean-Francois and his team's solution to eradicating the few remaining negative impacts that they have.