In the Institute Factory of Sustainable Tourism GoodPlace we have joined forces with Talent Basket, a virtual workplace, providing global workforce solutions to businesses and professionals. We took part in their online training programme, during which we collaborated with talented students from around the world.
Students involved in the project were given an opportunity to expand their knowledge about sustainable tourism and improve their writing skills under our mentorship and guidance from TB’s project lead. We wanted to inspire the students to explore the importance of sustainable tourism development and join us in our pursue of a better tomorrow. We strongly believe it is our social responsibility to help nurture young talents.
Each student was tasked to produce an article on their preferred topic, related to sustainable tourism. Chan Jia En from Malaysia explored the unique opportunity to strengthen sustainable tourism practices, brought by the Corona crisis.
In December 2019, news about an unknown virus spreading across the city of Wuhan in Mainland China went viral. Soon, this virus had led to a global pandemic, effecting over 5.8 million global citizens, as of May 28, 2020. Bustling big cities were being emptied and put to sleep due to the quarantine and lockdown. Tourism businesses were being drawn into a crisis on huge amounts of booking or trip cancellations, causing an enormous fall in sales and income. This forced tourism related companies to opt for retrenchment or temporary employment adjustment, significantly contributing to the rise of global unemployment rate.
According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), an estimation of 20 % to 30 % decline in international tourist arrivals may happen in a full calendar year of 2020, which is equivalent to a loss of 300 to 450 USD billion in international tourism receipts. We are currently seeing some positive signs of gradual recovery in countries that implemented effective prevention measures. The overall effects on tourism industry will, however, certainly be long-lasting, especially on international border crossing.
Photo source: Photo by Mick De Paola on Unsplash – ‘Milano – Empty cause CoronaVirus’
While we are mostly focused on COVID-19 impacting our daily life and the tourism industry, several studies show positive impacts of the pandemic on our Mother Earth. According to Earth Observatory by NASA and the Carbon Brief analysis, the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Mainland China have significantly decreased during this crisis due to government’scontrolled traffic measures. The European Space Agency (ESA) shared that NO2 emissions in Italy also decreased, while canal water in Venice became clearer due to the reduction of tourist traffic.
Apart from city destinations, travel restrictions became a blessing for nature sites. Wildlife numbers in many areas increased drastically in comparison to the period before lockdown. For example, Thailand naturalists mentioned that it is normally difficult to spot threatened sea mammal species in shallow coastal waters. With the absence of tourist crowds, these are now appearing more frequently. This gives us a chance to re-think our activities and choices in preventing negative impacts of human induced crowding on nature sites involving wildlife.
Photo Source: NASA
There is, however, another side of the coin when it comes to Corona crisis and wildlife. The lack of tourism related funds led local communities and wildlife conservations centres into a crisis as the majority of ecotourism projects depend on tourist demand rather than the environmental needs. Therefore, it is important to find a balance between all these elements. Current situation presents the perfect timing as the industry is starting from ground zero. In the next part, we will share a case study showing how to implement sustainable tourism practices on a national level.
Case Study: Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism (GSST)
We hope that the case of Slovenia and its Green Scheme inspires you to implement green policies in tourism development, especially when preparing a Post-Corona Recovery Plan. As shown by Almas in the first Talent Basket article, different contexts require different approaches to sustainable tourism development. Slovenia can, however, serve as a great example and inspiration of rebooting the tourism industry in a sustainable manner.
Slovenia, a small green country in Central Europe, is recognized globally as a role model of developing and promoting sustainable tourism. This is mainly due its Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, which was developed by the Slovenian Tourist Board and the Institute Factory of Sustainable Tourism GoodPlace and operates under the umbrella brand SLOVENIA GREEN. Since 2015, it presents an umbrella scheme for different initiatives aimed at developing sustainable tourism. The Scheme acts as a national tool for assessing and improving sustainable performance in destinations and tourism businesses. It works as a quality certificate programme indicating the fulfilment of sustainable tourism requirements based on the global criteria of the Green Destinations Standard, which is recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). Depending on the level of fulfilment in listed criteria, destinations can be awarded with labels of different colours. Among tourism businesses, accommodations, tour operators, travel agencies, attractions and restaurants may be awarded with a Slovenia Green certificate. Members of the Scheme can also join the Slovenia Green Consortium, the activities of which are focused on networking, sharing good practices and additional promotion.
Cycling Tourism in Slovenia. Photo source: The Slovenian Tourist Board
In a nutshell, the travel sector crisis, resulting from the Corona virus pandemic, is gradually improving in certain countries. Tourism destinations around the world are slowly reopening for visitors. It is also the time of drawing-up action plans on how to bounce back from the lock-down and make tourist destinations more resilient for the future. Thus, tourism businesses and destinations alike should take advantage of this unique opportunity brought by the Corona standstill. Sustainable tourism practices should be planned and implemented as a recovery plan. As one of the main partners of GSST, GoodPlace can help you to introduce sustainability to the core of your business or destination management.
In the long term, the positive impacts of sustainable tourism will benefit future generations and encourage longevity for business owners. This is a prefect chance for everyone to recognize COVID-19 as a gateway to create a world that is more sustainable.
I was born and raised in Malaysia. At the moment, I am pursuing my final year in Bachelor of International Tourism Management at Taylor’s University. During my studies, sustainable tourism has been one of my biggest interests. I am always passionate to learn more about the topic, which explains why I joined this internship project. My decision on writing this article is due to my curiosity on how will the tourism industry recover from the impacts of COVID-19. My research reaffirmed my belief that sustainable tourism will be the best recovery solution.
I’m a Malaysia-based Talent Captain or project lead on the project of collaboration between GoodPlace and Talent Basket. I am undergoing my final year of the Bachelors in International Tourism Management programme in Taylor's University, Malaysia. Apart from being actively involved in Talent Basket’s internship projects, I am also the chairperson of PATA Malaysia Taylor's Student Chapter since August 2019. I strongly believe that event management and tourism are inseparable. This project gave me a great ‘outside classroom’ opportunity to learn about sustainable tourism from leading industry professionals. With great appreciation, I would like to thank Talent Basket and GoodPlace for giving me this opportunity to enhance my knowledge and soft skills throughout the journey.