Jan 13, 2018

Why we need to measure our impact

Read GOOD Travel's 2017 Impact Report and reflect on your own impact as travellers

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The impact of tourism is often measured, but nearly always in numbers. The majority of tourism statistics tell us only about the economic impact of tourism such as the number of tourist arrivals, total tourist expenditure and tourism employment figures.

While this information is certainly important, at GOOD Travel we believe that to report on success in the tourism industry, we need to be measuring far more than this. We believe every tourism body, tourism business and traveller, should be measuring their impact on the environments, communities and individuals they affect.

Measuring the impact of tourism businesses

There are a growing number of tourism businesses measuring their impact - and we’re always inspired when we come across a company that includes social and environmental indicators in the how they measure their success! For example, Air New Zealand's 2017 Sustainability Report shares achievements ranging from their transition to a corporate electric vehicle fleet to their increasing number of female leadership staff. Similarly, Marriott International's 2017 Sustainability and Social Impact Report links their 2017 impact to the Sustainable Development Goals, reporting on a range of social, economic and environmental indicators.

Here at GOOD Travel, we've just launched our very own Impact Report for 2017! We still have some work to do to define what success means to GOOD Travel, but we’re excited by our first attempt at measuring some of our key achievements - and we hope you will be too!

Here’s a quick summary of some of the achievements we’re most proud of from 2017:

For more details, you can download our 2017 Impact Report here. We’d love to hear what you think. What else should we be measuring in 2018 and how can we have the biggest impact possible? Please tell us in the comments section below.

Measuring our impact as travellers

It’s essential that tourism businesses measure their impact, but it’s important that travellers take responsibility for their individual impact too. So as GOOD travellers, how will you measure your impact on the places you visit this year? Here are a few ideas.

Economic impact: How much of the money you spend will stay in-country? This can be hard to measure, but one of the easiest ways to ensure that the majority of your money benefits local people is to stay local, eat local and travel local. Read our Tourism Matters article for more ideas and to learn about our partner Investours.

Social impact: How will your travels benefit local people and support the preservation of local cultures? One way to have a direct positive impact on the communities you visit is to make a donation to a respected, local non-profit organisation. Another option, which is harder to measure but equally important, is to invest time researching cultural dos and don’ts before travelling to ensure you are behaving appropriately. As travellers, you also have the opportunity to use photography and social media to respect the dignity of the people you visit and to break down stereotypes. Read our Social Media for GOOD article for ideas on how to achieve this.

Environmental impact: How much waste are you leaving behind in the country you visit? What is your carbon footprint? Are the places where you're staying involved in sustainability initiatives? In many cases, you’ll need to focus on how to minimise your negative environmental impact, but you can also have a positive impact by taking time to volunteer on local conservation projects or donating to a local organisation. Read our New Ways to Travel Make it Easier to Travel GOOD article for ideas on how to minimise your carbon footrpint.

If you’re travelling on a GOOD Travel trip, one of our goals for 2018 is to make it easier to understand your impact by providing our travellers with a Trip Impact Report following each trip. Our Trip Impact Reports will outline exactly what was achieved as a result of your trip - from the donation included in your trip fee, to the amount spent at in-country GOOD tourism businesses, to reductions in waste by using reusable water bottles and our re-purposed paper travel journals.

Happy New Year everyone!

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GOOD Travel blog author

Eliza Raymond

After graduating with a Master of Tourism from the University of Otago in New Zealand, Eliza has worked for a variety of NGOs and tourism companies around the world. Eliza is the co-founder and director of operations for GOOD Travel, and also teaches entrepreneurship, innovation and social change at the University for Peace established by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The impact of tourism is often measured, but nearly always in numbers. The majority of tourism statistics tell us only about the economic impact of tourism such as the number of tourist arrivals, total tourist expenditure and tourism employment figures.

While this information is certainly important, at GOOD Travel we believe that to report on success in the tourism industry, we need to be measuring far more than this. We believe every tourism body, tourism business and traveller, should be measuring their impact on the environments, communities and individuals they affect.

Measuring the impact of tourism businesses

There are a growing number of tourism businesses measuring their impact - and we’re always inspired when we come across a company that includes social and environmental indicators in the how they measure their success! For example, Air New Zealand's 2017 Sustainability Report shares achievements ranging from their transition to a corporate electric vehicle fleet to their increasing number of female leadership staff. Similarly, Marriott International's 2017 Sustainability and Social Impact Report links their 2017 impact to the Sustainable Development Goals, reporting on a range of social, economic and environmental indicators.

Here at GOOD Travel, we've just launched our very own Impact Report for 2017! We still have some work to do to define what success means to GOOD Travel, but we’re excited by our first attempt at measuring some of our key achievements - and we hope you will be too!

Here’s a quick summary of some of the achievements we’re most proud of from 2017:

  • We presented at 16 events in locations ranging from Malaysia to Papua New Guinea where we facilitated discussions around the future of the tourism industry with over 1,600 travellers, academics, industry professionals and students.
  • We directly donated over NZ$9,000 to support sustainable development initiatives, including a water tower project in Zanzibar and a youth empowerment programme in South Africa.
  • We were directly involved in ten research projects working in partnership with universities and tourism businesses globally.
  • ‍Through our website and social media, we reached over 200,000 people with key messages about sustainable, ethical and reponsible tourism.
  • ‍We published 27 blog articles on topics ranging from voluntourism to social media.

For more details, you can download our 2017 Impact Report here. We’d love to hear what you think. What else should we be measuring in 2018 and how can we have the biggest impact possible? Please tell us in the comments section below.

Measuring our impact as travellers

It’s essential that tourism businesses measure their impact, but it’s important that travellers take responsibility for their individual impact too. So as GOOD travellers, how will you measure your impact on the places you visit this year? Here are a few ideas.

Economic impact: How much of the money you spend will stay in-country? This can be hard to measure, but one of the easiest ways to ensure that the majority of your money benefits local people is to stay local, eat local and travel local. Read our Tourism Matters article for more ideas and to learn about our partner Investours.

Social impact: How will your travels benefit local people and support the preservation of local cultures? One way to have a direct positive impact on the communities you visit is to make a donation to a respected, local non-profit organisation. Another option, which is harder to measure but equally important, is to invest time researching cultural dos and don’ts before travelling to ensure you are behaving appropriately. As travellers, you also have the opportunity to use photography and social media to respect the dignity of the people you visit and to break down stereotypes. Read our Social Media for GOOD article for ideas on how to achieve this.

Environmental impact: How much waste are you leaving behind in the country you visit? What is your carbon footprint? Are the places where you're staying involved in sustainability initiatives? In many cases, you’ll need to focus on how to minimise your negative environmental impact, but you can also have a positive impact by taking time to volunteer on local conservation projects or donating to a local organisation. Read our New Ways to Travel Make it Easier to Travel GOOD article for ideas on how to minimise your carbon footrpint.

If you’re travelling on a GOOD Travel trip, one of our goals for 2018 is to make it easier to understand your impact by providing our travellers with a Trip Impact Report following each trip. Our Trip Impact Reports will outline exactly what was achieved as a result of your trip - from the donation included in your trip fee, to the amount spent at in-country GOOD tourism businesses, to reductions in waste by using reusable water bottles and our re-purposed paper travel journals.

Happy New Year everyone!

MORE BLOGS

Eliza Raymond

Eliza is one of the co-founders of GOOD Travel. She has travelled extensively to work with grassroots community organisations and tourism providers. Eliza has found her second home in Peru.

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