Lucy Agace on Tourism Sustainability, its challenges and opportunities

Lucy Agace, Sustainability Adviser and Certifier, founder and owner of Go Green Sustainability and underwater videographer, talked to us about how her passion for sustainable tourism originated, how that influenced the creation of Go Green Sustainability and the main challenges and opportunities within the industry.

Lucy, when and how did you first discover your passion for sustainable tourism?

I have been passionate about marine life for over 40 years due to my underwater photography travels. But it was whilst l was volunteering for a charity called CORALL (Coral Reef Restoration Alliance) in Barbados in 2017 that l became aware of sustainable tourism. l quickly learnt about the negative impacts of tourism on our coral reefs and the lack of knowledge of this that the locals and private sector had. I realised that I wanted to do something about it.

Video from Lucy Agace‘s YouTube Channel

What inspired you to create Go Green Sustainability? What are its main objectives?

As per my previous answer, l created my business to offer sustainability services in consulting and certification for multiple industries, including tourism and hospitality. Firstly, I trained as a sustainability auditor for a global accreditation body called Green Globe because I saw that certification by an independent third party professional auditor provided trustworthy credentials, thus avoiding ‘green washing’, which I had experienced many times in my travels. Now, I provide sustainability certifications on a number of levels and consulting in both the UK and Barbados.                              

My main objectives are to effect positive change in this arena by helping businesses to improve the way they use natural resources, employ people, reduce their carbon footprint and build future resilient businesses. This requires a holistic approach across the business, developing and implementing a sustainable strategy throughout.

Is sustainability becoming a core component of business and destination strategies, or is it still very much a promotional tool?

I believe the case for sustainability as a core component for businesses has recently gained a lot of ground because public demand for change has grown. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is far more commonplace than 5 years ago although the need for certification has not equalled the growth. Of course, there could be a simple reason for this and that is that an onsite independent audit (which is what l require) will verify if everything they claim to be doing is true. I believe an onsite independent audit is the only way forward.

You have travelled all over the world. In your opinion which regions or destinations are the most innovative or pro-active regarding tourism sustainability?

I cant really answer this question because l mostly travelled widely over 25 years ago. More recently my travels have been to the Caribbean region and Europe. I would say there is no particular region that is more pro-active. I gather in Europe, Germany and Slovakia both take it very seriously. The Caribbean is making real inroads and l hope to be working with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) soon to help them realise their goals. Last year, they also set up the Caribbean Trade For sustainable Development (TASD) to help SMEs to develop green business models.

Which sustainability topics would you consider the most urgent for us to pay attention to?

The basic premise of ‘Sustainability’ is to balance the three Ps People, Profit, Planet, they are all equally important. Carbon footprint reduction is a hot topic right now but that’s dealt with in the Planet section.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the travel and tourism industry over the next few years when it comes to sustainability?

I feel the biggest challenges are CO Emissions and getting any size hotel and restaurant to adhere or commit to a sustainability action plan that can be verified or audited so that everyone will know that they are taking action to mitigate climate change seriously.

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