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Sustainable Tourism Toolkit

With the growing number of people visiting and staying in Colorado comes the responsibility to simultaneously promote and protect our cultural, environmental and economic assets. Sustainability is more than just about being “green” or protecting the environment. It is a holistic approach to how tourism can benefit the long-term well-being of a community and its environment. This toolkit is intended to provide broadly spanning resources that address different considerations of tourism sustainability, including environmental, social/cultural, economic, and management concerns and opportunities. Whether you are a destination community group, a nonprofit organization or a small business owner, this toolkit will help you evaluate your practices and incorporate sustainable thinking and design into your planning and strategies.

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1. Getting Started - Why sustainable tourism? Sustainable tourism can lead to higher community engagement, long-term job creation, a stronger connection to local culture and history, and a healthier ecosystem. This section fully explains the fundamentals of sustainable tourism and why it is imperative that Colorado communities integrate sustainable tourism best practices.

2. Industry Trends - Make sure you’re updated on the latest trends! Consumer trends and research can teach us a lot about sustainable product and service preferences. In addition, learn why the “green traveler” should be a part of your target client list.

3. Destination-Level Sustainability & Community Engagement - A community that works together to consider the “big picture” of sustainability is one that will experience benefits well into the future. In this section, we consider topics such as historic preservation, open spaces and nonprofit collaboration.

4. Tour Operators - Integrating sustainability into a tour operation is much more than just providing reusable water bottles or nature walks. Sustainable tourism for operators means minimizing negative impacts and maximizing best practices with the: community, environment, employees, buildings you occupy, transportation methods you chose and guest experiences

5. Travelers & Guests - Are your clients and guests setup for success? Do you have a towel-reuse program? Is composting and recycling easily accessible? Review best practices and resources to ensure that you are making sustainable actions and behaviors easy for everyone that visits your destination or business.

6. Greening Your Space 101: Sustainability for Lodging, Buildings & Events - From adopting eco-friendly technologies to participating in regional programs and local partnerships, there are numerous ways to enhance the sustainability of the built environment. Not only do these efforts decrease a community’s environmental footprint, but they can also lead to regional job growth and long-term financial benefits.

  • Introduction: Getting Started - Want to take your building to the next level of sustainability? Whether your building is your business — such as a hotel or B&B — or if you’re looking to upgrade your small office space or engage your community in mindful practices, this overview is a great place to get started.
  • Energy Efficiency & Alternative Energy - Colorado has been a leader nationally in the development of renewable energy strategies. Learn how these diversifications and advancements can be adapted to fit your business or community.
  • Water Usage & Xeriscaping - Whether you’re looking to decrease your water bill or be more considerate of your dry environment, there are cost-effective strategies both indoors and out that can greatly reduce your water consumption.
  • Sustainable Practices for Waste Management - In this section we go beyond the basics of recycling to discuss composting, upcycling and other practices specifically tailored to the tourism sector.
  • Sustainable Event Management & Food Services - Learn about strategies to handle large crowds, create positive guest experiences, keep the community happy and reduce negative environmental and community impacts within these commonly wasteful and consumptive sectors.
  • Taking Action - Now that you are armed with great resources, it’s time to put sustainable tourism to practice:
  • Assess Your Community or Business - The first step is to assess the current partnerships and practices of your community or business.
  • Implementation Plan - After completing a detailed sustainability assessment, it is time to create a plan that allows you to: implement, evaluate and adapt.

7.  Marketing Your Sustainability Efforts - Did you know that consumers prefer to support destinations and companies that actively support and engage with communities and the environment? Here is a quick guide to how to best promote sustainability efforts in a way that creates positive brand recognition and attracts your target audience.

8. Case Studies - Communities across Colorado continue to pave the way with sustainable tourism efforts. Review great examples of lessons learned and creative solutions.

  • Aspen/Snowmass - The Aspen Ski Company has actively grown their sustainability programs for more than 30 years. Learn from the experts about how to create innovative programs that support the local community and the environment.
  • Colorado Fourteeners Initiative - In order to create a growing sustainable trails program, this nonprofit has successfully integrated a diverse group of stakeholders, volunteer program and long-term donors.

9. More Resources - Check out these helpful links in case you haven’t found exactly what you are looking for. Also, you will find links to organizations that focus on sustainable tourism, which includes more detailed resources and free newsletter sign-ups.