Sustainable Tourism: How Environmentally-Conscious Travelers Are Boosting Florida’s Economy | Opportunity For All Floridians

Sustainable Tourism: How Environmentally-Conscious Travelers Are Boosting Florida’s Economy

The Rise of Sustainable Tourism

As the world recovers from the height of the global pandemic, a significant trend is emerging in the global tourism industry: sustainable tourism. Far from being just a buzzword, sustainability has become a top priority for today’s informed travelers. Recent surveys confirm this shift, highlighting the growing emphasis travelers place on eco-friendly tourism practices.

“Sustainable travel is no longer the ambition of the few but of the many,” says Booking.com’s 2022 Sustainable Travel Report. Booking, the world’s most valuable travel company, surveyed more than 30,000 likely travelers across 32 countries and territories. 73 percent of global travelers say sustainable travel is important to them, Booking found, with a majority wanting to make different choices as a result of climate news.

Sustainable tourism in Florida: paddling in a Kayak in Silver Springs State Park
Sustainable tourism in Florida: paddling in a Kayak in Silver Springs State Park

Florida’s Sustainable Strides in Transportation

When it comes to transportation, Florida doesn’t lag far behind in making a turn towards sustainability. Several companies in the state are already moving towards more eco-friendly practices, responding to the pressing issue of climate change. For example, Florida proudly ranks fifth in the US for its solar power usage and second in the number of electric cars.

An EV charging station
Sustainable tourism: a new Orlando city ordinance requires new constructions to provide a certain percentage of EV-ready parking spaces. (Adobe Stock)

At the local level, cities within Florida are making commendable strides. An Orlando city ordinance now requires that all new buildings dedicate a percentage of available parking spaces as EV-capable (prepared for installation of charging hardware). By 2030, the theme-park capital plans to create 1,000 EV charging spaces and another 9,500 EV-capable spaces.

Sustainable tourism: EVTOL Electric Vertical Take Off and Landing Aircraft companies have targeted Miami for launching new services. (Adobe Stock)

And have you heard of electric air taxis? Get ready. Miami has been targeted by four companies, including carmaker Hyundai, that want to make the South Florida city a hub for their electric air taxi programs beginning in 2024.

Meanwhile, New Smyrna Beach is collaborating with the global network, Bioregional’s One Planet Living, focusing on sustainability goals that not only protect the environment but also foster community growth and business prosperity.

Sustainability Pays Off in the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality sector in Florida has a unique advantage. As per Booking’s October 2021 report, unlike industries like aviation that need novel technologies to be sustainable, hotel and other lodgings can achieve net-zero emissions with existing technology. This positions them to spearhead the climate transition within the tourism sector.

Sustainable Tourism: The Palms Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach is listed in the Florida Green Lodging Program. (Photo by the Palms Hotel & Spa)

Numerous properties across Florida are already part of the Florida Green Lodging Program, signifying their dedication to conserving the state’s invaluable natural resources. Major partners like Hilton have set ambitious 2030 goals, including halving their carbon emissions, water consumption, and waste.

Florida International University in Miami-Dade County has launched a new global sustainable tourism program in Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and the College of Arts, Sciences & Education.

And educational institutions like Florida International University have recognized the demand, launching sustainable tourism programs to prepare future leaders in this burgeoning field.

The Opportunity For Florida’s Economy In Protecting Our Environment

In the evolving landscape of tourism, it’s clear that sustainable practices are not merely a trend but a global movement driven by the conscious choices of travelers. The data shows a significant shift in priorities, with an increasing number of tourists seeking eco-friendly options, even willing to pay more to support environmentally responsible businesses. Florida, with its stunning natural environment, is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this growing trend.

Sustainable tourism: diving with a manatee in one of Florida’s natural springs (Adobe)

At Opportunity For All Floridians, we firmly believe that Florida’s greatest asset and most significant economic driver is its unparalleled natural environment. Our mission to safeguard these precious resources aligns seamlessly with the rising wave of sustainable tourism. By protecting our environment, we are not only preserving our state’s unique beauty but also ensuring a sustainable, prosperous future for all Floridians. As businesses and cities within Florida take significant strides towards sustainability, we encourage our legislature to support these initiatives. Together, we can harness the power of sustainable tourism to boost Florida’s economy while safeguarding the natural wonders that make our state so extraordinary.

How You Can Help:

Click here to check out our environmental scorecard, where we track how our Florida state lawmakers are doing in safeguarding Florida’s most important economic resource: our natural world.

And click here to check out the latest actions you can take that are specifically about protecting Florida’s environment.

Actions you can take to protect Florida's environment:

Write your Lawmakers: Pass the Manatee Protection Act

It was a mistake for the federal government to remove the manatee from the endangered species list in 2017, and a new law would undo ...
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Write Your Lawmakers: Protect the Everglades in 2024

Write your lawmakers to support legislation to protect the Everglades Protection Area (EPA), which is a vital ecosystem and a major source of drinking water ...
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Let’s Rebuild Florida’s Mangrove Forests!

As our population has grown, many mangroves have been destroyed or died. SB 32 would fund an effort to plant more mangrove trees and restore ...
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