Tourism in Wales is under pressure. With increased footfall leading to an increased impact, car parks are full to bursting. Microplastics have been found on the summit of Yr Wyddfa and climate change driven patterns of erratic weather have led to excessive heat waves or periods of prolonged and heavy rainfall.
Sustainability in tourism underpins all of these. It doesn’t represent a costly solution, although it will not be easily won, but increasingly, the evidence shows that businesses and individuals taking steps towards greener ways of working are ways, or perhaps the only way, to ensure resilience and prosperity in a changing world and a warming climate.
Leading the way are businesses like Glaslyn Ice Cream Parlour in Beddgelert, who have seen their efficiency increase and their costs drop as they set out for net zero and look to export their approach to the rest of the national park. Communities locally are organising to provide the additional low-carbon public transport that they feel is needed – Bws Ogwen has been happily shuttling tourists to and from their destination for a year now, powered by a community hydro venture.
Our institutions are also stepping things up, perhaps realising that people visit Wales not to be a burden on the environment and its living inhabitants, but to be a part of it and co-exist in a way that doesn’t negatively impact or might even enhance it. New campaigns such as Plastic Free Yr Wyddfa are emerging, with PFYW awarding businesses in the vicinity of Wales’ highest peak with accreditation badges to show that they are taking plastic waste seriously with various tiers available.
The scheme allows businesses to earn and then trade on their green credentials. It all sort of makes you wonder why we weren’t all doing this a decade ago? Monitoring has long been the standard in food safety – it’s great that we are starting to catch up and monitor other aspects of life which are equally impactful.
As a company, we at Greener Edge are in the privileged position of being able to both witness and assist many tourism businesses in North Wales endeavouring to understand, monitor and ultimately, reduce their impact, at a time of unprecedented promise for those wishing to take those steps.
It would be easy as someone who lives in a tourism hotspot to bemoan the backpacked parka-clad masses as a drain on services and a coagulant on the single-tracked country road – but as an environmentalist, you just have to recognise that it’s amazing that people are choosing en masse not to hop on a £30 flight, but making the (green) decision to connect with the natural environment on their doorstep.
The onus is on us to make their stay here as sustainable as possible in all ways.