Is sustainability an issue for the Ruggård Hay Hotel?

“Sustainable tourism (ST) is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and life support systems” (UNWTO, 2001). According to this definition, sustainable tourism consists of cultural, ecological, social and economic factors. The goal is to handle all these aspects on an equal level, but as this is quite impossible, compromises have to be made.

Relating to Sustainable Tourism is Sustainable Tourism Development (STD). STD aims at “meeting the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future.” STD is a continuing process which includes different issues depending on where it is applied. It also has to be adjusted with the time, as the people’s and destination’s needs change constantly.

But how can ST and STD be applied for the Ruggård Hay Hotel?
The Ruggård Hay Hotel has several possibilities to implement the four factors of sustainable tourism.
Ecological Aspects: This especially includes the unique nature by which the future hotel is surrounded. As the nature will be part of their business, the Kjaer family has to preserve it. Offering the horse or bike tours without such a nature would not create the same experience for the tourists. By setting up trash bins along the trails, they can make sure that the nature stays clean. Alternatively, they could just ask the guests to take their trash with them, until they come back or find a trash bin. A cooperation with the nature school could help to make the guests aware of the nature and how they can contribute to its preservation. Nevertheless, there will be negative impacts on the environment: There will be a higher use of electricity and water and also an increasing amount of waste. But offering homemade marmalade in glasses, for example, could already reduce waste.

Economic aspects: This is not the most important aspect for the Kjaer family. Surely, they do not want to create debts with their business, but making profit is not the number one aim for them. It is more about making a dream come true. They could probably think about this aspects a little bit more, as soon as they get there business running and are able to reach the break-even-point that they are aiming it.

Social Aspects: The Kjaer family wants to cooperate with local businesses. This is an important part of the social aspect. By this they contribute to maintain the local economy and create exchange between the guests and the host community. However, setting up this business does not only create positive effects within the host community. It has to be considered that existing hotels/B&B/etc. may see the new business as a competing accommodation. But not only external social aspects are important, but also the social part within the family. Everyone should be included in this project and should get the opportunity to present his/her opinion freely.

Cultural Aspects: The cultural sustainability is probably the part that will be most likely realized. The Kjaer family wants to welcome the tourists as a part of their family, showing them their life and culture. The guests will automatically get in contact with local people and learn about the local culture. Additionally, the guests will also bring parts of their culture to the host community. By this, cultural exchange can be created. Here it is very important that both sides are open-minded and want to learn about each other’s culture.

There are surely aspects of sustainable tourism (development) that can be implemented in the business of the Kjaer family. The question is just whether it should be a focus from the beginning on or whether it could be implemented later. I think that some of the aspects, especially the cultural ones, will come on their own without focusing on them. It is just part of running a family business. The family has to be aware that such a strategy is not easily maintained and has to be implemented as a continuing process.

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