Engaging in circularity thinking is now considered a priority for European tourism providers. By reducing waste and pollution, using long lasting products and services and by regenerating ecosystems, tourism SMEs can strengthen their resilience, improve their surrounding environment while attracting more responsible customers. But where can they start?
In the framework of the Centour project, which aims at building circular capacity building among European SMES in the tourism sector, we have organized our capacity building activities according to the following framework, which we will describe hereunder.
The first step of a circular transition starts with inspiration. It is indeed inspiring to get to know what pioneer companies have already been doing regarding circularity in their respective tourism activities. Some SMEs have focused on setting up energy efficiency practices and renewable energy systems. Others have designed strategies to remove single-use plastic waste from their supplies or significantly reduce their food waste. As circular economy strategies are emerging, there are a lot of great examples implementing circularity and creating additional benefits for the planet, the customers and the profitability of businesses. In Centour, we have collected several examples of best practices organized according to circularity principles, specifically for the different types of tourism providers. This database is available for free here.
Beyond inspiration, it is important to develop a certain knowledge of the concepts, approaches, challenges and benefits of becoming circular. Accessing key reports and documentation is a first step. Taking a dedicated course can actually support tourism managers in getting the right knowledge and skills to start their journey to circularity is even better.
On the Centour website, we have put together a library of reports where you can access key documentation related to circular economy in the sector. For those interested in learning in a more structured way, a portfolio of e-learning courses has also been created to get a deeper understanding of the different dimensions of circularity in the sector. Specific modules tackle for instance energy management, plastic pollution or collaborative consumption.
When engaging in your transition journey, it is important to know that you are not alone. The challenges and difficulties that you encounter may have been already faced by your peers in the past. Sharing good practices among peers is also key to accelerate the transition. To answer this challenge, Centour has developed a dedicated forum, a linkedin group, and is regularly hosting webinars and conferences in which fellow tourism providers and circular practitioners talk about their experience.
As you engage on your transition journey, get inspired, acquire knowledge and connect with other circular SMEs, you may also need practical tools and methodologies to start applying circular principles in your own activities. Centour has developed a step-by-step guidance to support you on your transition. The Managing the Transition to Circular Economy for Tourism Providers handbook is a method that can support you with practical tools and canvas ready to be applied with your staff.
This capacity building approach is currently being applied by more than 60 companies in 5 countries (Greece, Italy, Moldova, North Macedonia & Spain) with the help of local facilitators. We will share their learnings in the coming weeks in an upcoming article.