Worldwide, travel and tourism combined, rank high among human-economic activities in terms of environmental footprint. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions it represents about 8 % of the total human-induced carbon-dioxide equivalent (Co2e). If transport is often pointed for being responsible for nearly half of this count, lodging, our segment, contributes up to a non-negligible 6% of the industry’s total, which is nearly half a percent of the whole carbon emission.
Carbon is however far from being the sole type of impact on environmental caused by travel & tourism. The degradation / loss of biodiversity and the effects on local communities are other aspects to be considered; they are less often mentioned owing to the their subjective and less measurable nature. Fortunately, the evaluation of ecosystem services is becoming a recognised science and is being increasingly used and adopted by different countries and trades; it is set to become a core tool for sustainability management. Since it takes into account the contribution of ecosystems to human livelihood – including their spiritual and wellness values – the effects on local communities are fairly well-reflected in the evaluation of the environmental footprint of an activity such as tourism.
Because we are convinced that tourism is also a direct beneficial vein to small isolated island states like Mauritius, on both economical and societal standpoints, we remain fond of our activity but believe that no matter how small our microbusiness is, it is of utmost importance that, as stakeholders of the tourism industry, we contribute to its sustainability by reducing at best its negative impacts.
Drafting a policy and applying it is the means to set goals, targets, deliverables and methods of achievement. BookMauritius Villas is part of the Blue Oasis standard programme, an initiative from the Tourism Authority of Mauritius, as per the standards of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
Because of the minute size of our business (working from home, making hardly no purchases and not travelling), all our actions aiming at the reduction of carbon footprint and of the impact on biodiversity are orientated towards our partners and providers, mainly the owners / managers of villa rentals and other holiday accommodation we propose, and to a lesser extent, our guests. On the other hand, most actions aiming at improving the involvement of local communities are mostly of our own initiative.
BookMauritius Villas will adopt and encourage sustainability practices wherever and whenever it is practically possible through:
a. The sensitisation of the accommodation owners / managers about the importance and contribution of the natural environment to the success of our / their business.
b. Through information campaigns, providing evidence about the vulnerability and sensitivity of a coastal environment and the possible impacts which the activity of tourism – lodging in particular – can have on them.
c. Sensitisation of owners / managers as regards to the importance of ecosystem services in the preservation of the environment as a whole, including their contribution to the livelihood of local communities, which constitute direct and indirect improvements of the touristic destination.
d. Inviting owners / managers in reviewing access restrictions (if any) to beaches by putting forward the concept of common natural capital which coastal regions and scenic landscapes represent.
e. Encouraging good practices in terms of land coverage, planting, hard infrastructures and building in order to:
– reduce / slow-down or where possible reverse the process of beach erosion,
– reduce at best the impacts of run-offs and grey water,
– encourage enrolment in waste-sorting and collecting service – not offered by state, –
– avoid loss of identity in terms of both architecture and garden setting,
– improve natural habitat for endemic species through thoughtful planting & gardening,
– reduce dependency on air-conditioning through improved natural ventilation,
– reduce light pollution and energy consumption by considerate garden lighting and the use of timer switches.
f. Calculating scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon dioxide equivalent (Co2e) emissions and encourage guests and owners to:
– reduce power consumption via a series of adapted measures,
– offset the guests’ carbon footprint via a recognised compensation mechanism that brings financial support to locally-based carbon-sinking or emission-avoidance operations such as solar farms.
g. Support initiatives from, and encourage encounters with, local communities by:
– proposing local visits and excursions handled by nearby villagers; training them when necessary.
– encouraging local buying by facilitating a “from farm to fork” network.
Initial stage (February to December 2021):
– Identifying scope, means, methods, aims and goals.
– Documenting each action and process before submitting them to the official standards assessors for review / approval / certification.
– Assessing baseline.
– Identifying participating secondary stakeholders and implementing procedures.
– Carrying sensitisation campaign aimed at villa owners and managers.
Testing phase (October to December 2021):
– Testing of evaluation and evaluation collection methods. Rectification of major issues prior to submitting final documentation for certification.
Processing period (January 2022 to December 2025).
The certification is for a 3-year period with interval checks and evaluations that can be quarterly, semi-annual or yearly. Co2 compensation operations for instance, requiring a minimum, they may be done over 6-month periods, while reduction in consumption can only be compared on a year-to-year basis to compensate for seasonality fluctuations. Other factors like anti-erosion measures require longer time-spans.
All villas will be rated for quality and environmental footprint, by ourselves and by guests, allowing the fine-tuning of our rating process over time to match customer satisfaction and perception. The client satisfaction and evaluation of sustainability actions will make the underlying and continuous evaluation of the ensemble of actions.