Hostelling International is a global association of Youth Hostels. We are a charity and our focus has always been on social empowerment. For the 2017 Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development we have developed a busy program to address ten different areas of sustainability.
In October, we focus on the theme of “Protecting Destinations: Culture and biodiversity”. Read more on our blog . A fantastic example of this is the Swedish Tourist Association’s sustainability pledge.
The Swedish Tourist Association (STF) believes it should be easy and inspiring to discover Sweden in a sustainable way. They want to inspire tourism that is based on respect for the natural and cultural environment of the places visited, tourism that is built on curiosity and the joy of discovery. They hope that their vision – encouraging people to discover Sweden – will bring people closer together, while at the same time increasing commitment to the preservation of natural and cultural values.
One important step in this process is to gather each accommodation in the network to work in the same sustainable direction, each of them in their own unique way. They have chosen to address this through a pledge, launched in late 2016.
Building on the fact that STF is a chain of unique accommodations, many of them family run and small scale, and realising there was no single sustainability label that suited all accommodations in the network, their own standard was developed, the pledge. The pledge is constructed in such a way that the accommodations should fulfil each part, but it is mainly up to them to choose how they do it. The pledge in short:
- 10 points – covers all three dimensions of sustainability
- Based on the sustainability policy, prioritised aspects and the HI sustainability charter
- Focuses on what is unique in each place
- Suitable for small as well as large accommodations
- Low cost and few administration hours
- Possible to combine with environmental or sustainability labels
- Possible to develop further and raise the level when all have made pledge
So far, over 80 accommodations have made the pledge, well over ambitions for the first year. By the end of 2019, all STF accommodations should have made the pledge. The pledge has been warmly received, appreciated especially for the flexible setup and the promotion of local solutions based on current conditions.
To create awareness around the pledge and to inspire to discover sustainably, a sales and engagement campaign was launched in September 2017, called Discover Sustainably. The month-long campaign consisted of several parts:
- The accommodations who signed the pledge were highlighted
- Possible to book an experience especially designed with sustainability in mind
- Local enthusiasts and local sustainability initiative were spread
- On the website, they created a guide to becoming a more sustainable tourist
- Instagram competition with “your best sustainability tips”