What is sustainable tourism and how can your rental property support it?

What is sustainable tourism and how can your rental property support it?

The term “sustainable tourism” can be heard all over the world in the travel and tourism industries. People all over the world are becoming more socially conscious about sustainable tourism.

What is sustainable tourism?

The UN World Tourism Organisation 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”. The term “sustainable tourism” consists of three major pillars, namely, economy, environment and social. These are the three main keys which influences sustainable tourism. As a property owner, you have to make sure that your guests do nothing that will bring harm to their surroundings, but in addition, contribute to the local community and their economy.

According to Booking.com’s most recent sustainable travel report, 87% of global travelers state that they want to travel sustainably. Where 4 out of 10 confirmed that they often or always manage to do so. South Africa remains a popular tourist destination for travelers from across the world, with the latest figures showing an increase of 2.7% for the first five months of 2018 compared to the first five months of 2017. According to this statistics, South Africa is well underway with sustainable tourism and the principle thereof, in the act of trying to protect and preserve our environment for the future.

How can you support sustainable tourism with your rental property?

Hotels began to adopt sustainable business practices over a decade ago. Here’s how your rental property can support sustainable tourism and promote sustainability:


  • Give back to the community

Investing in your local community will help build the community for when tourists visit the area. This could be anything from supporting local companies or donating money to local communities or businesses.

  • Hire Local Staff

Hiring local staff to work for you creates job opportunities for local people and strengthens the economic growth within the community.

  • Source Local Supplies

Sourcing local supplies from local businesses is another way to support the economic pillar of sustainability. Whether its furniture or fresh fruits from your local store, try enforcing these supplies locally to further help the community economically.


  • Energy Conservation

Energy is one of the biggest talking points for sustainable travel – with energy accounting for 60% of a property’s carbon footprint. There are a few things you can install to cut down on energy use. Installing energy-efficient lighting and appliances, adding solar panels to your property and recycling water are all excellent ways to cut down on energy use.

  • Water Conservation

Water in South Africa is very scarce and should be used with care. There are several ways you can ensure your guests are aware of the saving water policy. On a property level, you can conduct a water audit to investigate where you’re using the most water and repair any leaks or drips. In terms of promoting sustainable tourism to your guests, you can politely request that towels be reused, that the dishwasher or washing machine only be used when full, and that they ensure all faucets are completely switched off after use. You can also provide a bucket for guests to use in the showers as a way of reusing and saving water.

  • Waste and Recycling

Providing recycling information and facilities is a great way to encourage good recycling habits amongst guests. Place clearly marked containers for organic, plastic, paper and glass waste throughout your property, and educate your guests on how to use them effectively upon arrival.

  • Transport

Make sure your guests know what transport options are available to them. You can provide information on public transport in the area.


  • Encourage guests to purchase locally

Instead of your guests heading to internationally-owned souvenir shops, encourage them to visit local crafted markets and shops to experience local culture and the community. This will help inject capital into your community and its local entrepreneurs!

If guests know that they are making a positive contribution to the local community, this not only enhances their overall stay, making it even more special, but it also educates and can influence them to share stories of their sustainable travel experience at your rental property when they go back home.


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