Mankind Digital Wins Skål Sustainable Tourism Award

Why we promote the benefits & impacts of sustainable tourism & travel​

Published 14 October 2021

Sustainable Tourism Awards 2022

Category: Educational Programmes and Media 

Mankind Digital has won the 2022 Skål International Sustainable Tourism Award in the Educational Institutions, Programmes and Media category.

 The award was announced at a ceremony held on 14 October to open this year’s Skål International World Congress in Croatia. For 21 years, Skål International’s awards have recognised organisations with best practice in sustainable and responsible tourism around the world. Awards are also made in several other categories, and the practices must be implemented by the organisation applying for the award.

This year, the UN World Tourism Organisation partnered with Skål, following the UNs declaration of their goal to promote reliable, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism. This makes our award even more of an achievement. Tara Strickland of Skål International Melbourne stated “We are greatly impressed by the work of Mankind Digital! Keeley and her team are leading the way in supporting and promoting a sustainable tourism industry. They are providing an opportunity to guide and educate us all on the economic and environmental benefits of sustainable and responsible tourism practices. We highly recommend their services!”

We are thrilled to be acknowledged as an authority in sustainable tourism. Winning this award is an enormous validation that we live what we preach, our business practices align with our values, and our clients choose us because we offer values-based services that achieve results. 

Mankind Digital: Award-winning tourism content marketers

At Mankind Digital, we are passionate about preserving our natural surroundings and travelling responsibly—these are the driving forces behind our organisation, offering digital and content marketing for the travel industry

We partner with destination marketing organisations, tourism experience providers and travel businesses that focus on protecting and regenerating the environment, preserving local culture and traditions, prioritising local economic growth, and effective sustainability practices. We use digital marketing strategies to raise awareness about sustainable tourism and inspire visitors to choose more responsible options when travelling locally and abroad.

How we practise sustainability

Sustainable practices at Mankind Digital include:

  • Donating 1% of our annual revenue to 1% for the Planet to drive positive change for the environment
  • Supporting Carbon Positive Australia by planting a tree in our client’s name whenever we start working with a new organisation
  • Being an ambassador for Sustainable Travel International, and promoting their products and services
  • Working with tourism businesses, agencies and regional marketing organisations to help them thrive and grow by promoting sustainable tourism as a strategy
  • Reducing our business carbon footprint by operating remotely and opting for eco-friendly alternatives where possible
  • Making use of renewable energy at our home office
  • Actively participating as members of the Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC), Skål International Melbourne and Catalyst 2030

What is the definition of sustainable tourism?

Simply put, this is a form of tourism that ensures natural attractions, host communities and destinations thrive by protecting them and enhancing their wellbeing. Sustainability in tourism is achieved by preserving and regenerating the environment, respecting local culture and traditions, and growing the local economy by employing locals and supporting local businesses and service providers, amongst various other examples.

Understanding sustainable tourism better

Sustainable tourism is more than just the latest industry buzzword. Understanding and applying its principles will bring benefits to your business, host destinations and the environment.

What are the benefits of sustainable tourism?

There are many rewards to making your tourism business sustainable and educating travellers about the benefits of choosing responsible travel experiences. They can be grouped into three categories:

The needs of our natural surroundings are prioritised, and natural resources and energy are used more effectively. If there is more money in the local economy as a result of increasing sustainable practices, there will be more funding for nature conservation, creating more natural parks, and other green initiatives. These efforts and practices will reduce our collective carbon footprint.

The culture and heritage of host destinations are preserved, protected and respected; and local people participate in delivering tourism activities. Visitors gain a better understanding of the cultural traditions and values of the host destination, and benefit from more authentic travel experiences. 

Rural and local areas are economically revived as more money is available for improved infrastructure. Local businesses can expand while new businesses develop in the tourism sector and beyond. This increases employment opportunities and grows the local economy. Local communities are strengthened as funding and resources become available, and their overall quality of life improves.

Ecotourism vs sustainable tourism: What is the difference?

While the terms ‘ecotourism’ and ‘sustainable tourism’ are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different. While ecotourism can be sustainable, sustainable tourism is not always the same as ecotourism. 

With sustainable tourism, the focus is on minimising the impact of travel on destinations, the communities who live there, and natural attractions. 

Ecotourism focuses on educating travellers about environmental issues, ecological conservation and preserving natural surroundings while they participate in conservation and cultural activities.

Moving from traditional tourism models to sustainability

Tourism creates jobs and is great for the economy, along with other important benefits. However, traditional tourism methods generally focus on short-term rewards and have little concern for the long-term effects on destinations, host communities and the natural environment.

Six problems with traditional tourism methods

The negative impacts of traditional tourism models include:

When destinations receive too many visitors, the quality of their experience deteriorates and negatively affects residents, business owners and hosts. Overtourism has many disadvantages, including destruction of the natural attractions, displacement of locals, overdevelopment and even traffic jams.

Overdevelopment results in pollution, littering, deforestation, ruined habitats, and increases susceptibility to natural disasters through land degradation. Greenery and natural scenery are destroyed to make way for hotels, car parks, theme parks, and other developments that accommodate and entertain visitors.

Visitors to foreign countries sometimes choose familiar, internationally recognisable brands over unfamiliar products or services that support local businesses. Because they are present in all corners of the world, multinational brands reduce the opportunity for smaller, local businesses to survive and grow. Tourism dollars go to international shareholders rather than into the local community.

Events and activities are orchestrated to attract tourists, but in reality, they have little to do with the host’s culture and traditions. As a result, tourists gain an incorrect or limited understanding of their host destination, and locals are offended by the misrepresentation.

Cultural commodification destroys the meaning of the host destination’s customs and cultural events. Tourist entertainment value is given priority over the authenticity of the cultural experiences, and local communities feel disrespected and exploited.

This occurs when the cultural experiences and values of a minority group are taken and used unfairly and without acknowledgement in order to make a profit. Often taken out of context, cultural experiences are usually performed in an inauthentic, stereotypical and disrespectful way.

Tourism and Climate Change

Tourism is responsible for about 8% of the world’s carbon emissions—a high percentage when compared to other sources of carbon emissions. The tourism industry therefore has a key role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing down the rate of climate change.

How to move from traditional tourism to a sustainable tourism model

Sustainability in travel and tourism is more important now than ever before. There are several ways tourism providers can incorporate sustainability into their businesses and help protect our planet, while supporting local communities. Here are eight elements that can be incorporated into your business model to help you get started:

Work closely with the local community to create authentic tourism experiences for visitors, use local staff, source from local producers and farmers, and ensure the community benefits from your business. Consult with other stakeholders to help deliver high-quality, sustainable travel options.

Use responsible waste disposal practices, and ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ to lessen the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Conserve water by identifying and reducing wastage.

Use a carbon footprint calculator to measure, track and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. Sign up for carbon offsetting schemes available in your region to maximise your efforts and regularly review emission usage and reduction.

Employ locals, treat your staff fairly, provide them with training and maintain good working conditions. Develop and stay committed to your company’s Code of Conduct.

Use renewable energy sources, and conserve energy by using energy-efficient appliances in your business. Track your energy usage so you can identify more ways to reduce or minimise it.

The health and safety of your guests is a priority, and especially important since the pandemic. Develop safety and cleanliness protocols and clearly communicate how you are keeping your guests safe.

The welfare and protection of wildlife is critical, as the tourism industry has a history of poorly-managed animal attractions. Choose to work only with responsible wildlife tourism providers.

Develop a Responsibility Statement which outlines your sustainable activities and practices so visitors and guests gain a good understanding of the measures you have in place, and why you have implemented them.

These elements, along with the twelve goals of sustainable tourism, put together by the United Nations and the World Tourism Organisation, can help your tourism business get started on your sustainable tourism journey. 

Mankind Digital, sustainable tourism and you

Our recent award win in the Skål International Sustainable Tourism awards, chosen from a strong field of entries from around the world, confirms our sustainable and responsible travel and tourism credentials.

 Our tourism and travel case studies also show how Mankind Digital is promoting sustainability through travel content and tourism marketing campaigns designed to reach, engage and motivate travellers and tourists to make more responsible choices. 

Keeley Warren, our founder and Director, is available for comment on sustainable travel practices in Australia and beyond. For more information, listen to the interview with Travel Writers Radio hosts Graeme Kemlo and Keeley Warren and download our press release outlining our values and how we are working to promote sustainability, responsible travel and regenerative tourism in the tourism sector. If you are a tourism industry provider who shares our values, we’d love to speak with you. As your sustainable tourism marketing partner, we can help you grow your business through content development and digital marketing. Get in touch through our website, follow us on Instagram and Facebook, or connect with Keeley on LinkedIn

Published October 2022

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