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Can digital solutions help to make your travel business sustainable?

3 min read

Even though the digital solutions do have a carbon footprint, they have an important role in making travel business more environmentally friendly. When talking about travel sustainability we usually think first and foremost of the impact on nature. But lively culture, thriving local communities and healthy economics are also vital parts of sustainable travel business. Digital solutions can be an important key in unlocking this treasure trove.

Digital data drives ecological sustainability in tourism

Many tourist attractions rely on healthy ecosystems: beaches, protected nature reserves, wildlife watching etc. Digital data gathering helps to preserve these natural locations. According to theWorld Wildlife Fund (WWF), digital solutions are vital in collecting and sharing the information needed to preserve these environments. And help maintain their biodiversity.

The flow of tourists can be managed so that the impact on the most fragile places is minimal. Travellers can be educated on the culture and nature of the places they visit through augmented reality, geotagging and other digital tools easily used by mobile.

How digital apps can promote cultural sustainability

Walking and cycling are perfect ways of getting to know the place you’re visiting. Wherever there is access to wi-fi or cheap mobile data, visitor experiences can be heightened by innovative apps. Only your imagination is the limit in creating these services.

Be inspired by some of Europe’s best productions at the Heritage in Motion initiative gallery. They hold a yearly multimedia competition for the creators and users of films, games, apps and websites on themes related to Europe’s heritage. Both cultural and natural.

These tools are not only propellers for eco-friendly tourism. They also highlight and help preserve local cultural heritage. Where the flows of travellers can be managed to save fragile nature, the same can be done to encourage them to take a path less travelled. And help boost local culture where it would otherwise be in danger of disappearing. Thus promoting cultural sustainability.

Here’s one great example from the Heritage in Motion 2021 competition. Everything Is Music is a platform that maps out a city’s history through a musical treasure hunt.

Economic and social sustainability in travel business

Sustainable tourism isn’t only about the environment and local culture. It also means economically sustainable small businesses. Healthy businesses are vital for the local communities. When digital solutions can help local businesses pool their resources and make a larger effort together, the whole area prospers.

Developing new travel products around digital solutions is usually cheaper than traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses. Digital tourism startups don’t need massive infrastructure or huge funding and can bring innovative new businesses to rural areas. And they still tend to have a lower carbon footprint than traditional businesses.

Social media and review sites spread the marketing effort from solely the business owner to the customers who share and review their experiences. Digital analytics give even the small travel businesses an insight to who and where their customers are. Information that previously was provided only for the biggest companies with huge marketing budgets. This helps small businesses to create better products and services.

Creating value through digitalisation

OECD has studied small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the travel business. In their publication ‘Tourism Trends and Policies 2020’ they compared traditional businesses with digital ones. They came up with the following table on how digital solutions impact small and medium travel businesses.

What’s your take on digital solutions and sustainability?
What digital solutions do you use and what’s their impact on your business? What would help your travel business become more sustainable environmentally, culturally, socially and economically?

Share your views and discuss sustainability and digital solutions in our community.

Figure 1. Creating value through digital transformation in travel business, adapted by writer from the OECD publication: OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2020.


Authored By

Hanna Hägglund
Content Strategist at | Website | + posts

Hanna is a seasoned facilitator and wordsmith from Helsinki, Finland. She loves guiding ideas to fulfilment and telling stories that breathe life into otherwise technical language.


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