Interview with René Skiba, Director at Northern Black Forest Tourism Ltd.
René Skiba is director at the Northern Black Forest Tourism Ltd. which has been 2016 officially awarded the Sustainable Destination Certificate. Also the destination has written a sustainability report for certification as a sustainable travel destination by the German Ministry of the Environment and Social Affairs and the company TourCert.
Things we wanted to know from René:
• Why was it important for René to make the destination sustainable?
• What were the first steps for the destination?
• What are Renés gaols for the Northern Black Forest Tourism Ltd.?
• Which obstacles did René and his team meet?
• How did the destination solve problems on its way?
• Where does René see the benefits for a sustainable destination?
• What is Renés advise for other destinations and companies?
Why did you start becoming a sustainable destination?
Before the Northern Black Forest Tourism Ltd. was founded in 2013, there were already some initiatives in the region which were concerned with environmentally friendly offers and also focussing on regionality. These services have now been increasingly bundled in order to continuously expand and strengthen the sustainable tourism offer of the destination.
The uniquely valuable resources are a matter of our heart. Protecting them, caring for them and dealing with them responsibly determines our daily actions. Our joint and future-oriented actions strengthen our identity and at the same time drive innovation. Sustainability ensures the quality of these innovations and has priority in all work processes. In this way we can also convince the other actors in the region.
Our work is sustainably market- and future-oriented. It is our task to set effective and innovative impulses, to motivate and to coordinate the resulting projects carefully. We accompany projects of our partners, support them and promote them sustainably. A positive and modern appearance as a cooperative unit is very important for us.
What were your first steps?
First, the status quo was determined with the help of an inventory analysis of the existing tourist offers and their actors in the Northern Black Forest region. All parties involved were informed and involved in the procedure. This has resulted in the first joint projects. Our e-mobility package was developed in this process.
Tourists can use an electric car and discover the hot spots of our region! Our Renault Zoe can be rented on a daily basis or for longer periods. From two days on there is one freely choosable adventure voucher included in the e-mobility package. This gives visitors the possibility to explore the treetop path in Bad Wildbad, the Paracelsus thermal bath in Bad Liebenzell, the Siebentäler thermal bath in Bad Herrenalb or the 360 degree exhibition of Rome by the artist Yadegar Asisi in the Pforzheim gasometer. We want to make it fun to explore the Northern Black Forest in a sustainable way!
What are your goals?
Our goal is to sensitize and inform the tourist actors and above all ours guests about sustainability. Our aim is to protect the valuable resources of the Northern Black Forest and to develop and communicate new sustainable tourist offers.
Have you met any difficulties on your way?
It was not so easy to build up an appropriate network and a functioning communication platform, where interested and active partners are involved in dealing with the topic of sustainability even beyond the everyday business.
How did you solve them?
The first joint ideas arose through the exchange and clear, consistent communication with our partners and service providers. We have created various incentives with regard to various marketing activities, provided practical tips and demonstrated to what extent we, as DMO, as well as our actors in the region can benefit in the long term from acting more consciously in the sense of sustainability and making offers more consciously sustainable and presenting and communicating them accordingly.
What are the benefits for the destination?
The perception of the destination with regard to a more sustainable communication and presentation of certain topics has increased noticeably. The network among the tourism players and service providers as well as the exchange could be further expanded and at the same time strengthened. In addition, it is easier to respond to the increased quality demands of the guests in a targeted manner under the practicing sustainable quality aspects. By consciously and above all in the long term addressing the issue of sustainability, we were able to further sharpen the profile of the Northern Black Forest destination and enhance and strengthen its image. It shows the guest, but also the tourist actors in the region, that it is a matter of our heart to take care to preserve and protect the beautiful, diverse and multifaceted sides of our region also in the future, so that also the next generations have the possibility to enjoy it!
Do you have any advise for destinations or businesses who consider to become more sustainable?
Just do it!