Our Sustainability Journey – The Story So Far!

In July 2020, Niki completed the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)´s training course in Sustainable Tourism delivery.  This excellent learning programme gives a full understanding of GSTC´s Sustainability Criteria and how to apply them appropriately to a tourism business or organisation of any size or scope.

Migrating Black Stork crossing The Straits – Sustainability in what we do ultimately helps migrant birds and their habitats © Inglorious Bustards

It teaches the importance of having a sustainability reporting and management system in place, to make sustainability achievements measurable, and to help move towards continuous improvement.  To this end, we have produced a document detailing our present situation according to GSTC Criteria and also our sustainability journey from the beginning and into the future.

The ethos behind Inglorious Bustards´ Nature tourism has always been to use travel to bring positive outcomes for biodiversity in the places we visit and beyond.  We came to the ecotourism industry from a background in sustainable agriculture, travel and conservation, full of ideas about how the market can be used to drive conservation initiatives, and determined to put these into practice across the East Atlantic Flyway.

This of course brings challenges!  As conservationists, we are only too aware of the environmental impact of the activities associated with tourism.  We want to share the joy of watching wildlife all along the East Atlantic Flyway, but in doing so we inevitably encourage consumption of the planet´s resources.

We launched our #FlywayPromise in 2019, making a pledge to our guests, colleagues and conservation partners that we would strive to meet the challenges of responsible ecotourism.  We call this concept #FlywayBirding, putting conservation action and education at the very heart of what we do, to ensure our operations benefit rather than exploit wildlife.  On our trips, “eco-tourism” is a promise, not an oxymoron.

Truly sustainable, responsible ecotourism is essential in supporting local economies and preventing the destruction of habitats that not only host much of the world´s biodiversity but provide essential ecosystem service functions such as carbon sequestration.  It thereby provides overall net benefit to biodiversity conservation and the wider environment.

The criteria and themes of sustainable tourism are wide-reaching, covering cultural, socio-economic and natural heritage.  As a small tour operator, it is not within our scope to change the tourism industry alone.  But we can have a positive impact on our little corner of it – traveling to both experience and help nature – as well as holding up a light for others, illuminating the art of the possible.

The theme about which we are most passionate and where we are able to exert the most influence through our small conservation-based travel company is the interconnectedness of habitat and species conservation, food choice and carbon footprint.  We believe a nature-watching tour can and should deliver exemplary responsible wildlife-watching and insight into local and global conservation issues.  It should link local sustainably-produced food with local natural, cultural, and culinary heritage.  We believe that all these things go indivisibly hand-in-hand.  This is the central theme of our Sustainability Management Report and Plan, and the area in which we particularly aim to excel.

An in-glorious picnic ! Sustainably produced, no single use plastics and yummy! © Inglorious Bustards

The report follows the sustainability criteria set out for tour operators by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.  They are designed to cover everything up to large tour operators with many staff and their own properties, so not all are applicable.  Using guidance and training from GSTC we have used this document to demonstrate what we are doing to fulfil applicable sustainability criteria across the board, and where our journey will take us next. 

If you wish to read the full substantive report you can do so here

We hope you like it!

Published by Simon Tonkin

'Here at the Inglorious Bustards, experiencing the powerful event of bird migration has led to a life-long fascination with avian migration and #FlywayBirding. It’s no accident that we have chosen our base to be here in the Straits of Gibraltar. Our location between Gibraltar and Tarifa puts us right at the epicentre of birding in the Straits and, from a migrating raptor’s point of view, we must surely also be at the centre of the world! We love not only to marvel at the birds passing but also to follow them on their migratory journey, and explore the whole range of fascinating and varied terrains they traverse each year. More than that though, we love to share our adventures with you!'

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