Sustainable hospitality has a major influence on engaging businesses with our local community.

People want to be involved with the community they are visiting. They want to feel like they contributed or experienced something that is unique.  In turn, businesses are realizing that having a positive social impact on the communities where they work, helps their bottom line. What can you do as a business or organization to be better stewards of the earth?  How can you support the local community and the planet while still achieving good financial health?  Considering all these factors allows businesses to build a brand that will attract more customers.

Protecting and supporting the natural environment is the first step in achieving true sustainable hospitality.  Businesses can offer their customers a connection to local environmental issues and education.  For example, utilization of the Seafood Watch card is one of the leading programs that combine tourism with local environmental issues. This program allows member restaurants to highlight local conservation efforts on their menus. Beyond the popular whale watching tours, Big Sur Land Trust offers scheduled hikes to learn about coastal land conservation and The Offset Project offers volunteer opportunities to engage with environmental certification efforts at local special events such as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am or the Big Sur Marathon.

A second step for businesses is to develop programs that can interact, impact and improve their communities. If a business can make the community a better place, than they will have a story to tell that is unique and separates them from other businesses. Legacies projects can include the protection and conservation of socio-cultural heritage and environmental resources, the sustainable development of local communities and local infrastructure, as well as job creation for locals. For example, Peter B’s Brewery partners with local at risk youth to grow hops for their hand crafted beer.  Incoming conferences can participate in “gleaning” programs where visitors visit local fields to pick leftover vegetables for the homeless.  In some cases, profits are reinvested into a local project. In Monterey County, the California Roots Festival is donating $1.00 for each ticket sold and investing the funds into an electric vehicle charging station at the event grounds. This allows festival attendees better access to the event and contributes to public awareness around electric vehicles.

If you are visiting and want to get involved in Monterey County’s local sustainable hospitality projects, please contact Kristin Cushman at Kristin@theoffsetproject.org.