Meet Ally, Sea Going Green's Founder: https://www.seagoinggreen.org
The Importance of Sustainable Tourism?
I have two quotes that describe the importance of sustainable tourism in my opinion which are “ The future will either be green or not at all - Bob Brown”, and one that we always say which is that a destination ultimately loses its profitability when it loses its beauty.
What is sustainable tourism?
Imagine diving in the great barrier reef.. Without the reef. Unfortunately, this is the path that we are on as 75% of the world’s coral reefs are projected to die by 2050. The tourism industry is one of the factors contributing to the degradation of the marine environment by overcrowding and polluting the environment. This is why sustainable tourism is the direction that the tourism industry needs to adjust its aim to. Having tourists visit a destination only leaving behind a positive impact on the society, economy and environment without an environmentally harmful footprint is the mission of sustainable tourism.
The United Nations World Travel Organization named “2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism For Development” and subsequently promoted the role of tourism in the following five key areas:
(1) Inclusive and sustainable economic growth
(2) Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction
(3) Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change
(4) Cultural values, diversity and heritage
(5) Mutual understanding, peace and security.
Sea Going Green is committed to the environmental impact of the tourism industry by promoting sustainable tourism through protecting the integrity of the oceans using the power of the tourism industry. We are empowering tourism operators that are dependent on the marine environment and its biodiversity to take action and protect the natural assets and resources that attract visitors.
The tourism industry has the power to be a catalyst for sustainable use of the natural environment. It is also a rapidly growing industry, with international tourist arrivals reaching 1,184 million in 2015. This figure is predicted to reach 1.8 billion by 2030.
The tourism industry already accounts for 10% of the world's GDP; the business volume equals that of oil exports or food products. It is responsible for 2,000,000 jobs: one in every eleven jobs on the planet as well as representing one of the main income sources for many developing countries.
What does SGG do?
Sea Going Green promotes sustainable tourism through sustainable business. Our mission is to alleviate the negative impacts tourism has on marine environments by offering consulting services to implement sustainable practices into their operations without hindering customer experience. As research shows, 73% of Millennials and generation Z travelers are more likely to pay for sustainability and actually expect companies to take action to improve environmental factors. Tourism can cause harm, but doesn’t necessarily have to. It is in the tourism industry’s best interest to conserve the environment as a destination ultimately loses its profitability when it loses its beauty.
Sea Going Green develops and implements Green Transition Strategies for tourism operators that want to #GoGreenForTheBigBlue.Within the Green Transition Strategy is an environmental impact assessment, sustainable marine tourism plan, and best practices report. We develop strategies for tourism operators to qualify for relevant green awards and certificates which is a way for their achievements to be recognised. We also provide training and capacity development to promote ecological awareness and the value of responsible marine tourism throughout the tourism companies. This helps to strengthen and maintain knowledge, skills and experience set to achieve more sustainable tourism. We encourage tourism operators to contribute to the local economies of the countries they visit and to incorporate local communities.
Why did you start SGG?
As I have been travelling since I was 1 years old I have seen the negative impact of the tourism industry on the marine environment and was searching for a way to face this challenge head on. After working in the tourism industry for 5 years and while studying and working in the marine biology field over 5 years I wanted to find a way to marry my two passions together. Upon the announcement of 2017 being the United Nations World Travel Organization’s Year for Sustainable Tourism, I began to think about how I would promote sustainable tourism. This is how Sea Going Green was founded. I wanted to consult in an environment that I was familiar with and had the desire to make an environmental impact on the marine environment. Diving off of the coasts of Curacao, Thailand, Indonesia and the Netherlands and working as destination staff for one of the largest group tourism companies in Canada coupled with my marine biologist expertise is what drives my commitment towards #sustainabletourism.
Can you describe a typical work day for you @ SGG?
Truthfully every day is different in a start up , but our team is growing so we have a bit more of a routine now. We are based at Merkspace in the center of Amsterdam so we start our work week with a team meeting to set the intentions of the week and then I focus on customer acquisition and proposals in the morning which means a lot of emails, and in the afternoons I focus on current projects we are doing and meeting with potential partners and clients. At the end of the week we always have a debrief meeting with the team to talk about how the week went and end our friday afternoon with a typical dutch vrijmibo!
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Going from a marine biologist to entrepreneur was definitely a difficult learning curve, but with the help of the ACE (Amsterdam Centre for Entrepreneurship) accelerator program I have been able to make the transition. Additionally, building a team around me with different skills and backgrounds who still share the same mission to #GoGreenForTheBigBlue has been a major contributor to all of our current traction. A challenge that I have had to overcome is selectively picking the right people for our team as the right team member can accelerate your growth, but the opposite can really slow you down especially at the beginning of a startup - being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Another challenge is working completely bootstrapped without external funding, thankfully this only lasted the first 9 months! We have also recently launched our blog platform as we also want to advocate for ocean conservation as well as consult tourism companies to get 1 million tourists to #GoGreenForTheBigBlue by 2020.
Check out Ally's interview of We are on a Boat's Founder Tiago Varandas on their blog https://www.seagoinggreen.org/blog/seagoinggreenxweareonaboat