Technology is a starting place for the Positive in ‘Nature Positive’, but it is just a starting place. The regenerative process that can bring the planet back to within safe boundaries is represented in the spiral graphic below. A spiral acknowledges that things rarely happen in a straight line, they loop back on themselves, so that it sometimes feels like we are back where we started with little progress.
On this spiral, carbon literacy with its widely accepted technologies such as low energy appliances, renewables, smart tech (sensor lights, etc), at the base. An individual who finds themselves on this spiral will usually engage with their head first – what can a smart meter offer me? How can it help me reduce my energy bills? Before progressing to hands, what actions can I take to reduce my energy and heart, a curiosity (an emotion) to know how one’s energy usage compare to others. Which may then lead to a search for more information on energy benchmarks, for example. However, benchmarks in and of themselves do not create change. Change requires more than measurements and knowledge. It requires “hands” and “heart”.
For tourism, there are at least two key players in this process – the host and the guest. The host, who is paying the energy bills, may start this process, but will soon find that the guest’s behaviour (e.g., taking long showers, leaving lights and appliances on) matters to. And so, the host, leading the way, invites the guest to follow.
Once both players are involved, a small community of two is created, and we ascend the spiral to green service literacy. Green service is an emerging area in tourism. It is more than technology-based and aligns with the emergence of co-design and co-creation of tourism experiences. The co-creation of tourism experience is the foundation of extremely successful companies such as Airbnb with its focus on authentic experience of place, hosted by a local who knows it.
A host who is “green service” literate knows how to build sustainability into the value proposition of their tourist experience. Fresh, locally grown organic produce as part of a wellness focus for example. Using this food example, a host might start out with an understanding (head) of food miles, or food waste, and the associated carbon footprint. A host might seek solutions and take actions (hands) such as changing their supply chain to buy from local producers or learning how to compost food waste.
This might then extend to empathising (heart) with the issues facing farmers in times of drought or floods, and so on and so forth as hosts pass through the one iteration of the head, hands and heart stages on the spiral. They might then invite the guest to learn more about the local produce of the region, perhaps build a “pick your own” (strawberries, for example) visit into the experience, and finally connect the guest to the stories of local farmers who have held the land in the family for generations.