Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority of Ireland, is working with EarthCheck, the world’s leading business advisory group specialising in sustainability and destination management, to support and guide the long-term sustainable growth of tourism to the Emerald Isle.
Fáilte Ireland works in partnership with government, state agencies, local authorities, representative groups and the tourism industry to support the long-term sustainable growth of the tourism sector, and the economic, social, cultural and environmental contribution it makes to Ireland.
Fáilte Ireland also works to secure business tourism for Ireland, and is responsible for destination coordination and development through their four regional experience brands – Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Dublin.
Aileen Deasy, Manager in Enterprise Development at Fáilte Ireland, says her organisation subscribes to the ‘VICE’ model.
“That means we keep the Visitor, the Industry, the Community and the Environment at the front and centre of everything we do,” she says.
“We understand the vital role a sustainable tourism sector plays for the Irish economy and its citizens. We recognise that sustaining and nurturing Ireland’s historical and natural assets – everything from our coasts and mountains to our historical sights – is as important for our citizens as it is for our tourists.”
Fáilte Ireland always understood the importance of sustainability, but they didn’t have a formal framework in place to guide sustainable tourism development – and they knew that had to change.
“The tourism sector has a significant role to play in meeting global climate change commitments and obligations,” Aileen says, “and Ireland is seeking to be amongst the world leaders in sustainable tourism practices by 2030, in line with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
In 2019, Fáilte Ireland established a working group to propose guiding principles for sustainable tourism development in Ireland. The group agreed that a significant piece of work was required to support the future growth and management of tourism in the area, and drew up a request for tender.
“We were looking for a supplier to provide a robust review of best practice in sustainable tourism,” Aileen says. “We wanted help with the development of guiding principles for sustainable tourism development in Ireland, and we sought recommendations on how to successfully implement those principles.
“We went to market via a competitive process, and EarthCheck met all our tender needs. They have a strong track record working at both the destination and business level, and they have an evidence-based ethos, so everything they do is rooted in science. EarthCheck’s holistic approach to responsible tourism also aligns with Fáilte Ireland’s goals and values.”
EarthCheck, the world’s leading business advisory group specialising in sustainability and destination management for the travel and tourism industry, works in partnership with clients to guide the responsible management of tourism destinations.
EarthCheck worked with Fáilte Ireland to develop the Tourism Action Plan 2019-2021, which was accepted and published by the Sustainable Tourism Working Group.
“The report included a review of international best practice, and an honest appraisal of where Ireland stood in that landscape,” Aileen says. “EarthCheck consulted with over 60 key stakeholders, and ultimately delivered a roadmap for sustainable tourism development in Ireland.”
Since delivering the Tourism Action Plan, EarthCheck has since advised Fáilte Ireland on their methodology for carbon benchmarking, and helped them to assess which carbon calculator is most suitable for tourism enterprises.
“Metrics and indicators are key for setting targets and measuring and monitoring progress,” says Nigel Russell, General Manager of Consulting at EarthCheck.
“These metrics help Fáilte Ireland to assess the sector’s impact, track their performance against global benchmarks and set short-term and long-term goals.
“Our mantra at EarthCheck is that what gets measured, gets managed. That’s why detailed work is now being undertaken on methodologies for understanding the tourism industry’s carbon footprint in Ireland, including the impact of growing visitation from key markets.”
EarthCheck is also working with Fáilte Ireland and Irish tourism businesses to pilot the Irish Government’s Climate Toolkit 4 Business, which provides businesses with practical ways to start their zero carbon journey.
“Sustainability measures need to be relevant to businesses,” Nigel says. “And with costs spiralling, resource efficiency is a pressing issue for businesses.”
As they continue their ongoing journey to sustainably manage tourism growth, Aileen says Fáilte Ireland will continue to call upon EarthCheck’s guidance and expertise.
“We see EarthCheck as a trusted partner in our work to drive sustainable practices with our industry partners,” Aileen says.
“We’re going to follow the plan EarthCheck has provided, and continue to develop visitor experiences that sustain Ireland’s environmental and cultural capital, while ensuring a fulfilling experience for our visitors.
“We know tourism can have positive social and economic impacts, and we want to deepen those impacts. As custodians of our natural landscape, and our historic and cultural assets, we will protect them for the next generation.”
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