Sustainability Nezasa
Tour Operators, Travel Trends

Branding and Sustainability: how Tour Operators can be transparent

The tourism industry has a reputation for being environmentally taxing. Here at Nezasa, we recognise the importance of informing travel brands and tour operators about sustainable tourism and travel to protect local communities and the environment. 

In this blog, we will detail the many ways that travel brands can better establish and be transparent about their branding and sustainability practices.

What does it mean to be sustainable for a tour operator? 

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council recognises four pillars of sustainable tourism that tour operators should follow in order to practice and encourage sustainable tourism. An article on these “4 Pillars of Sustainable Tourism” details the importance and viable efforts that tour operators can make, so that tourism destinations can remain environmentally healthy and sustainable:

1: Effective Management: How are you implementing and managing sustainable practices across your tourism business? “Without effective management of your sustainability initiatives, your efforts may miss the mark. (And, if you aren’t measuring your efforts, you might not even know it!).”

2: Social & Economic: How are you helping the places where your tourism product operates? “Maximising social and economic benefits to the local community and minimising negative impacts are the essence of pillar #2. How are you supporting diversity within your organisation, your customer and vendor relationships, and the communities in which you operate?”

3: Cultural: How does your tourism business support cultural heritage? “Are you focused on maximising benefits to cultural heritage and minimising your negative impacts?”

4: Environment: How are you protecting, conserving, educating, and being a net positive steward of the environment and ecosystem in which you operate? “Are you mitigating damage, applying restorative solutions, or both? Getting the community and tourists to participate and lead – is key.” 

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What are the benefits of Sustainable Tour Operators?

There are many benefits of sustainable tour operators. The positive impacts that can affect a destination include job creation, cultural heritage preservation and interpretation, wildlife preservation, and landscape restoration. In addition, socio-economic factors such as economic growth and long-term economic availability, steady employment, the reduction of poverty, social services, and generation of income to the local community are all benefits of sustainable tour operators and the practices they help to implement and maintain

How can tour operators contribute to sustainable tourism?

Tour operators that are educated about sustainability are able to support hospitality services, travel companies, and tourist operations that: 

  • Conserve Energy through reduction and efficiency:

For example, UCF details how “organisations can start by training employees in behaviours that reduce energy use. These behaviours can range from turning off lights to changing the settings on washing machines and adjusting thermostats appropriately. Energy conservation may also include friendly reminders to guests about their use of towels or electricity. Organisations can look for

opportunities to use green technology or products for efficiency. For example, they can install solar panels for heating and cooling or switch to energy-efficient LED lights”

  • Reduce Waste:

Companies can use locally grown food, donate fresh but left-over food to local organisations such as community food kitchens, and install water-reduction and conservation technologies

  • Use Organic Amenities:

Organic amenities such as soap, cleaning products, and food have a lighter carbon footprint than traditional amenities and include less environmentally-harsh chemicals

  • Evaluate Energy Usage:

It is important to keep track of the energy usage being used in hotels, travel, and tourist attractions in order to remain aware of the environmental footprint a company has, while also finding ways to increase sustainability and lower energy usage

  • Educating Employees and travellers:

Training employees in sustainability practices and sharing with guests or clients how they can help to maintain and increase destination sustainability will help sustainability to become part of the destination’s tourism culture

The checklist to make your Tour Operator more sustainable 

According to Eldis, this checklist provides tour operators with some simple steps to become more sustainable in order to benefit local communities, tourism, and the overall environment: 

  • Select local suppliers based on sustainability criteria and help suppliers to become more sustainable
  • Ensure labour rights are respected, and that staff are trained to implement sustainable policies.
  • Use sustainability criteria to plan tourism activities by avoiding places where tourism causes environmental damage.
  • Have contact with tourists before, during and after their trip. Tourists Should use all these opportunities to encourage responsible behaviour.
  • Develop a sustainability policy that identifies impacts and prioritises those to be addressed, identifies targets and
  • actions to address them, and measures and reports on their progress.
  • Focus on internal communications to build knowledge, commitment and awareness among staff of actions they can take and to reward good practice.
  • Train all staff to a basic level of knowledge about sustainability (including targeted training for specific roles) using examples from existing sustainable tourism operations.
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Environmental Impact of the tourism industry

The tourism industry can put extensive pressure on destinations and communities. Here are some examples of the negative impacts that irresponsible tourism can have on the environment and local communities:

  • Soil erosion
  • The destruction of natural habitats
  • Pollution and oceanic damage
  • Overcrowding
  •  Deforestation 

However, with sustainable tourism, these negative effects can be mitigated. It is extremely important to recognise and respect destinations and travel in a way that is more beneficial than harmful. In addition to what we have already discussed, another great way to practice sustainable travel is through community travel and slow travel.

Trends: Community travel & Slow travel

Promising travel trends that promote sustainability and ecotourism are on the rise as more tour operators and tourists become familiar with the importance of working to support eco-friendly travel activities. 

Community travel and slow travel is travelling in a way that emphasises connecting with local people, music, culture, and food. This type of travel centres around the concept that travelling is for education and experiencing and maintaining an emotional impact while continuing to practice sustainability for the local environment and communities. These emerging trends are beneficial and should be encouraged by sustainable tour operators. 

Slow travel and community travel benefit tourists, promote ecotourism, and control the damage created by carbon emissions.

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Example of sustainable Tour Operators 

Here at Nezasa, we recognise the extreme importance of practising sustainability within travel. We love learning about sustainable tour operators and are excited to share a few examples of “eco-friendly travel companies you can feel good about booking with”.

Gondwana Ecotours 

This tour operator is “committed to limiting its carbon footprint through sustainable travel practices and is recognised for offsetting a total of more than 580 tons of carbon emissions. Since 2021, its tours are 100-percent carbon-neutral, as certified by the Cooler emissions tracking organisation”

Discover Corps Part of Terra Education, this tour operator is “a certified B Corporation that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Trip itineraries are designed to connect

travellers to local communities and provide a deeper understanding of the culture, issues and ways of life around the world. Many projects are in Africa, Asia, and Latin America ranging from two-hour walks with conservationists collecting data in Kenya to 16 hours building bottle homes in the Dominican Republic”

Natural Habitat Adventures

“To mitigate travel’s carbon output, this company leans into offsetting measures. From 2007 to 2019, Nat Hab offset 49,418 tons of carbon dioxide and has become the world’s first 100-per cent carbon-neutral travel company. They’ve also provided more than $4.5 million to support WWF’s global conservation efforts and continue to give one percent of gross sales plus $150,000 annually in support of WWF’s global mission.”


An online portal that specialises in sustainable travel. Faircations is a ground-breaking company in the travel market that focuses on all aspects of sustainability: ecological, social and economic. 

With this online portal, it is easy to plan and book trips to almost all destinations, selecting the sustainability certificates that are essential to you. Their transparent approach to the market makes it simple to understand exactly how your booked trip is helping the planet and the communities. 

As we continue into the rest of 2022, it is becoming increasingly important to practice sustainable travel and tourism. Here at Nezasa, we hope these tips on how travel bands and tour operators can be more transparent about sustainability can help all of us to better protect and persevere the environment and the communities we visit. 

As we continue into the rest of 2022, it is becoming increasingly important to practice sustainable travel and tourism. Here at Nezasa, we hope these tips on how travel bands and tour operators can be more transparent about sustainability can help all of us to better protect and persevere the environment and the communities we visit.