The first steps of sustainability implementation

Many tourism businesses experience sustainability integration as a challenge. They often feel overwhelmed by the overload of already existing data online (sometimes outdated) and the different approaches that are offered. What is the best way to go and how do you ensure long-term success? Let me help you get started!

Starting with your internal management

Before your business can work sustainably and also communicate this to the outside world, your first step will be to integrate sustainability into your internal management. Internal management includes all activities and operations happening at the main office and in the field. This is the main framework of your business and the foundation for every future decision, change, and new practices and products.

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These activities are most likely to cause a range of environmental impacts. Therefore, it’s key to implement practices to reduce e.g. waste, energy and water, to train your employees in sustainability, to implement proper labour practices, implement extensive policies and more, to reduce the negative impact on the environment. The ultimate goal is to have a business that fully commits to a sustainability strategy throughout all activities.

What are your first steps?

I can imagine this is already a lot to take in at once, hence we will start at the very beginning. The next aspects represent the first steps towards sustainability integration and will give you some handles for the further integration process.

Mission statement

This determines the direction of your business. Successful businesses use the mission statement to remind themselves and they employees why the business exists and what it stands for. You can see it as the Northern Star, the focus point that ensures everyone in the business is heading the same direction. Ask yourself why you want to implement sustainability, what you consider most important and how you are going to achieve this.


For long-term success, you’ll need a leader to implement sustainability in your business. Someone who is able to collect all relevant sustainability information, make decisions regarding sustainability, and also someone who has the ability to actually implement these changes on both management and operational levels. You’ll need a coordinator with the ability to organise trainings, activities and to negotiate with management and operations staff to ensure they work together effectively and in a sustainable way.


The creation of guidelines is a key point in the integration of sustainability. It guides the business through daily operations and provides clarity for all employees. The guidelines can be best written in a sustainability policy that aims for reducing negative social, economic and environmental impacts of the business activities. They can be based on certification standards or on policy templates and has to be supported by top management in order to be relevant for the sustainability implementation and further development of the business.


As your business has only started to implement sustainability, it’s important that your employees are involved, trained and committed to the sustainability practices. The sustainability policy should be accessible by all employees, and they need to receive further training on how they can use new sustainability practices in their daily tasks. Think about do’s and don’ts for safari drivers and guides; how can they make sure they leave nothing but footprints when on safari?

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In order to keep track of the many changes in the sustainable tourism industry, it’s wise to become a member of sustainability organisations and working groups to collaborate in initiatives, to work and to learn from one another. Go around and explore what groups and organisations, both locally and internationally, fit your mindset and who you would like to collaborate with (and from whom you can learn!).

Successful sustainability implementation also requires participation of local residents and businesses. Collaborate with and involve local communities and businesses in your activities. With their support and engagement, you are creating value for your business (because authentic) and you are creating benefits for the local communities and reducing conflicts.

Develop new products

Sustainable tourism is focused upon creating benefits for local communities and nature. With the implementation of sustainability, you can also start thinking about new products based on the strengths of your destination. Are there any local assets you can highlight? Think about cooking classes run by local women from the community, a tour on a local farm by the farmer himself, a tree planting excursion, or a hike guided by a local to a hidden gem. The possibilities are endless!

What’s next?

These are only the first steps of sustainability integration and there is still a long way to go. By starting with the creation of your mission statement, sustainability guidelines, training and collaboration plans, you create the foundation for the full process. It will help you to guide your business alongside your goals and to aim for a positive impact on the communities, environment and the economy. Are you ready for more?

Need help?

Do you need one-on-one coaching to fully implement sustainability in your business or are you just looking for a helping hand in the final stages of sustainability implementation?

Hire Fair Sayari