What is sustainable tourism? That’s a question we’ve pondered a lot since forming NEWT.
Discussions before, during and after the first Northumberland Sustainable Tourism Conference yesterday, jointly organised by the Northumberland Coast AONB, the Northumberland National Park and the North Northumberland Tourism Association, revealed that there isn’t really a concensus. For some businesses it means following the mantra of ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’, for others it means sourcing everything locally (where possible…). We’re in favour of those approaches, and our GOLD award from GTBS shows that we put them into practice. For other business, including NEWT, sustainable tourism means more than this though, so perhaps a definition of sustainable might help? There are many, but they can be summed up as ‘able to endure’. Whatever one generation does shouldn’t compromise the ability of future generations to do the same. The micro level of sustainability spread across lots of businesses minimises environmental impact, but will that be enough to sustain Northumberland’s tourism industry for generations to come? It probably won’t, but it will be a very stable base for sustainability. Some joined-up thinking is needed and there has probably never been a better time for control of the destiny of tourism in our beautiful county to be taken by the tourism businesses who actually understand the industry, the market and, perhaps most important of all, what Northumberland is all about.
On Tuesday I had a very enjoyable evening at Doxford Hall; meeting a group of tourism and trade delegates from Iceland and talking to them about ‘best practice’ in wildlife tourism. Cold, northern countries have always appealed to me (one factor in my decision to leave Arizona in May 2000 was the daytime temperature), so it was fascinating to listen to the group describing how wildlife tourism in Iceland is developing. That we were able to do this over dinner (which was excellent) made it a fairly informal Q&A, with lots of ideas shared and explored about the development of wildlife holidays, client requirements, the importance of local knowledge, the benefits of networking and the effects of the global financial crisis.
Another enjoyable part of the evening was the chance to catch up with David Hunter again. I first met David just after we launched NEWT, when he was still at Matfen Hall and I went along to tell him what we were doing. At that time we were a fledgling business and didn’t have any real idea where it would go, or how it could develop. Three years down the line, and we’ve got a better idea (to the point where I’m invited to describe best practice to overseas delegates), although there’s a lot of development still to come! With David now running Doxford Hall it will surely continue developing into an outstanding venue, and we’re looking forward to working with him in the future.
Yesterday evening was a more typical one for myself and Sarah; scattering Coots, nervous geese, a hissing Mute Swan and the familiar, sinuous, twisting, turning and swirling of an Otter feeding in front of us.
22/02/2011 Northeast Cetacean Project Transect Survey. 15 cetacean sightings; 21 Harbour Porpoises, 2 possible Minke Whales
23/02/2011 Advisory visit from the Green Tourism Business Scheme. Sustainable tourism is one of our highest priorities and visit went well – looking forward to the report
24-27/02/2011 Outdoor Leisure Show at the NEC, Birmingham.
28/02/2011 Catching up on admin, dealing with enquiries and holiday bookings and looking forward to Sarah getting back from New York.
01/03/2011 Preparing our monthly newsletter for March. Approving graphic design for our new vehicle. Getting the new vehicle safety tested (including a full MOT – on a vehicle only 8 months old, it’s enough to make you weep).
02/03/11 Meeting to discuss/plan the continued promotion of nature tourism in the Northeast. Dealing with enquiries, and some more enquiries
It’s a few years since I was student, but today I found myself sitting an exam…
Part of our commitment to what we do is to make our business sustainable and as environmentally responsible and aware as we can. Which is why, after setting out from the office after watching the conclusion of the 4th day of the final Ashes test, I found myself at the Rivergreen Centre in Durham undertaking CIEH Level 2 accreditation in ‘Environmental Principles and Best Practice’.
I enjoy learning, although I’ve always had a tendency to take information that has just been delivered and head off down a different route in my head. As well as some interesting stuff about environmental principles, and some very tedious stuff about legislation and policy, I came away from the day with some really exciting ideas about things we can do as a business. Time to plan and implement before the season gets properly underway in late-March