Topic 1 Circular tourism

Circular tourism is the application of circular economy approaches to the tourism sector in order to reach a sustainable tourism. Circular economy aims to transform the economy to become regenerative, minimize the use of resources and avoid waste. It includes in its approach the development of economic and environmental pillars of sustainability. If social development is not taken as such as a first objective of the circular economy, the necessity to minimize resources use and include the use of local materials, induces social development.

The use of the circular economy model offers a promising framework to develop sustainability in the sector of tourism. Circular economy is a model currently mostly applied to the manufacturing sector with very good results in terms of sustainability improvement. Its positive results can be evaluated trough the impacts of the use of a reference product (for example the use of a glass bottle that is usually returned compared to the use of a glass bottle which is recycled).

In service sectors, products are not used as a reference to evaluate circularity?

In service sectors, products are not used as reference but instead a use of services are assessed, e.g., “one night overstaying in a hotel” or “one day excursion in a city”.

Circularity is usually evaluated at service level

  1. Hotel: For one night overstay;
  2. Restaurant: One typical food experience.

Indeed, businesses have the possibility to evaluate the resources used and waste generated for one tourism service entity. This can be more difficult for tour operators as they have to know the circularity of the various components of their proposed tours in detail.

Average impacts of the use of accommodation services for 1 night

This will be evaluated by monitoring resources used (energy, water, food, cleaning products, other supply, etc.) and waste generated in one year and dividing them by the number of occupancy nights per year. This analysis can also include the transportation needs of the hotel staff and goods to the hotel or the funiture supply divided by the number of year of intended use. The larger the perimeter, the better the overview and the larger the innovations possibilities!

Average impact of an activity tour

This will be estimated in a similar way, dividing the resources used and the waste generated by the number of participants.

Average impact of one trip

This can be estimated by a tour operator if (s)he knows the impacts of the components of the trip. The impacts of air travel, for example, are quite well known as tour operators can propose travellers to compensate their GHG emissions (even if it is more important to first avoid emissions than to compensate them).

Circularity does not only concern the service producer, but also of the the tourists themselves. They are the ones deciding how to travel and what to do at the destination. How will the tourists use infrastructures? Can we influence their behavior so that they behave in a more circular way? The wide number of services producers in the tourism industry (transportation, catering, accommodation, excursions, etc.), induces the need of cooperation between them to create a global circular tourism offer.