Don’t you hate it when your mate comes around and leaves their shoes on, trampling horrible stuff into your lovely white carpets (mistake), then switches on all the lights in the house even though it’s the middle of the day, then puts the heating on even though the windows are open, THEN has a 3-hour shower?

(Mum, if you’re reading this, I haven’t done any of that since I was 15. I’m an adult now. STOP TELLING PEOPLE THAT STORY). Luckily, Visit Isle of Man has a lid on making tourism a lot more environmentally responsible. Just like you want to stop your annoying mate traipsing mud into your house, Visit Isle of Man is working to reduce tourists traipsing a massive carbon footprint all over our island.  

We’ve been back catching up with the Visit Isle of Man team, who are old pals now after also featuring in our Womann campaign – what aren’t they good at? It’s annoyingly impressive. They’ve been telling us about the move to a more sustainable type of tourism. 

What is sustainable or responsible tourism? What does it look like in comparison to non-sustainable tourism?  

Responsible tourism is tourism that respects a destination’s environment, community and culture, and incorporates not only green and economic sustainability, but includes ethical, regenerative and community orientated projects.  

In comparison to non-sustainable tourism, which often prioritises short-term gains and exploitation of resources without regard for replenishment or impact on local people/communities, sustainable tourism takes a more holistic approach i.e. minimising environmental damage by conserving natural resources, reducing pollution and preserving biodiversity.  

Responsible tourism is the sector’s definition of Biosphere, it’s about seeking to balance the needs of tourists whilst also fostering respect for the local environment, communities, culture and heritage.  

Are there any examples of work being done already to make the island a greener destination for tourists? 

Yes plenty, we are currently working with Monty Halls on Leaderbox Blue, a marine conservation project which aims to educate and inform young people to help create a new generation of marine conservation leaders.  

We’re exploring initiatives in the Quality sphere, which already includes access and inclusivity accreditations for operators, and will extend to responsible and sustainable tourism – recognising businesses that adhere to environmental and social responsibility standards, thus helping visitors make informed choices and support businesses committed to sustainable practices.  

We are also looking in depth at Regenerative Tourism, looking to promote and engage visitors in the amazing volunteer, conservation, heritage and culture values we have here on the Island, and encouraging them to explore and connect with our natural environment as much as possible. 

Is the island excelling, or achieving positive things, in any particular space? 

There is a definite emerging food and drink market, with local producers delivering excellent products, and taking pride in them too! The recent introduction of the Manx Menu initiative by Business Isle of Man and Visit Isle of Man marks the beginning of a comprehensive food and drink strategy aimed at further enhancing the Island’s reputation in the culinary sphere.  

Where we are currently excelling is our natural product. It’s what 60% of our visitors choose to do whilst they are here – experience our beautiful glens, beaches and plantations. We need to capitalise on the wellness benefits and the allure of escaping into nature, and the natural landscapes that the Isle of Man has to offer.  

How is sustainable tourism hoping to affect the Island's visitor economy and visitor experiences going forward? 

We hope sustainable tourism will revolutionise the Island’s visitor economy and experiences by diversifying offers beyond traditional attractions, so highlighting eco-friendly and sustainable businesses, outdoor activities and cultural experiences that appeal to the ever-growing eco-conscious consumers.  

With local businesses continuing the preservation of our natural environment, through conservation efforts, biodiversity protection and other sustainable initiatives, the integrity of the Island’s landscapes and traditions will provide authentic experiences for visitors. They'll provide opportunities for meaningful engagement by empowering visitors to contribute to the preservation of the Island’s unique ecosystems.  

Many other destinations suffer from over-tourism, on the other hand, the Isle of Man is in a unique position to manage what type of tourism we want going forward and to really define our offer before an over tourism position, it a very exciting time. 

How does UNESCO Biosphere impact the island’s tourism? 

We believe the Biosphere is fundamental to the Visit Isle of Man brand and being the first entire nation to be awarded this accolade is a key USP to make us stand out against competitors. Continuing working with the Biosphere team is essential in elevating the Island’s profile as an environmentally responsible destination and by working with industry to align with the Biosphere principles and adopt sustainable practices would serve as a catalyst for attracting visitors seeking sustainable experiences, in turn will support the local economy through visitor spend.