The importance of sustainable tourism to save our seas
This week we interviewed expert Ally Dragozet, Founder of Sea Going Green. Ally is an inspiration and a great resource for empowering both individuals and organisations on how they can #GoGreenForTheBigBlue and be the ultimate sustainable tourist/travel organisation. Ally's amazing work is evidenced so far by her work with The Yacht Week, who as a marine tourist company are taking responsibility and accountability for their impact on our oceans so party-goers can eat, sleep, rave, repeat in harmony with our ocean friends!
Who are you?
I’m Ally the founder of Sea Going Green! I am a Serbian/Croatian/Canadian Marine Biologist based in Amsterdam. I am consulting tourism companies to implement sustainable practises to #GoGreenForTheBigBlue.
What does Sea Going Green 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.
What inspired you to start SGG?
My personal mission has always been to find a way to make an impact in the two fields I am passionate in, Tourism & Marine Biology.
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.
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 towards.
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:
- Inclusive and sustainable economic growth
- Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction
- Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change
- Cultural values, diversity and heritage
- 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 the 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 million jobs: one in every eleven jobs on the planet as well as representing one of the main income sources for many developing countries.
Being such a large industry though also reflects its negative impact on the marine environment. With increasing tourist arrivals more and more space needs to be made for accommodation and other tourist activities which often leads to depletion of the marine environment through coastal development involving forest clearings, erosion of the beaches and islands, coral reef damage and increasing pressures on the local communities. Water quality in high tourist areas is also an issue as there is increased pressures on the waste water treatment and untreated effluents, we are currently doing a blog series on the impact of tourism on our marine environment which you can read more about here and here.
What tips can you give to be a sustainable tourist?
1) Skip the plastic water bottles, carry a reusable one and most places will be happy to refill it for you.
2) Say no to plastic straws or ask for an alternative such as a bamboo straw or a Straw by Straw.
3) Carry around your own tote bag! Those grocery store plastic bags add up during your travels and are less durable!
If you could be a marine animal what would it be and why?
Oh that is a tough one to answer! If I really had to choose I would pick to be a dolphin. I had the pleasure to study them for a few weeks in Mexico and really fell in love with their personality. They are so energetic and smart and they seem to be having fun with everything they are doing, along with their interactions with humans are quite interesting and complex. Also who wouldn’t want to swim like a dolphin?
What one little change could people do in their daily lives to have a positive impact on the ocean?
One little change would be to educate yourselves daily on how human actions are impacting the environment, I believe education is key to opening people’s minds up about how they can make a positive impact on the environment.
Find out more about Sea Going Green on their website and make sure you follow them to keep up with the amazing eco-marine saving work they are doing!