Major hostel chain makes sustainability part of its guest’s experience

October 26th, 2017 | | Accommodation

This year YHA Australia lifted their efforts up a notch with a new Sustainability Action Plan to fully integrate sustainability initiatives into their business planning. This was rewarded last month when YHA Australia was awarded the Global Youth Travel Award for Best Green Accommodation Initiative. The award was announced by WYSE Travel Confederation during the 2017 World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) in Montreal. YHA’s Operations Manager Robert Henke said “YHA Australia is proud their deep commitment to sustainability is being recognised industry-wide.”

YHA Australia’s brand reflects its respect for the environment, down to the tree in the company logo. However, that doesn’t mean all the sustainability initiatives will immediately take off. The key to a successful sustainability plan, according to YHA Australia, is to bring guests onboard. A major initiative YHA Australia has implemented since 2010 is a crowd-funded Sustainable Hostels Fund, to which guests can voluntarily contribute $1 per booking on their website.  YHA then matches these contributions dollar-for-dollar and uses this money for green projects at hostels around Australia to reduce energy consumption, emissions and waste.  Over the past seven years, YHA’s guests have raised over a quarter of a million dollars for these projects.

Even though, as a Hostelling International member, they have had an official environmental policy in place for more than 15 years, YHA Australia has fully embraced 2017 as the UNWTO’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. “The plan encompasses all layers of the organisation – from the Directors setting strategy, down to the chickens laying fresh eggs for our guests at Port Stephens YHA,” said Henke.

Their efforts are also paying off with money saved and guest satisfaction up. The hostel chain has cut electricity usage and the carbon footprint of overnight guests by about 10 percent. The organisation said that at a time when electricity costs have been increasing throughout the country, YHA Australia has saved approximately $200,000 per year due to sustainability initiatives introduced. Since they are a not-for-profit business, the savings are reinvested into improving YHA’s properties and services for guests.

Rob also said other organisations wanting to start their own sustainability initiatives should look to small, achievable actions that over time can have a big impact. He recommends a swap shelf to keep unwanted clothes and items such as sunscreen or shampoo from going to the bin, or banning the sale of bottled water in your business – instead installing chilled bubblers and selling reusable bottles. For bigger sustainability projects within the hostel, such as solar panels, check to see if funding is offered by your local or national government.

Source: WYSE Travel Confederation




2 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi Rob and YHA team

    That’s great news regarding the Sustainability Action Plan, I do have a question regarding the travel section, eg tours that you sell! Will the travel desk be following the same principles? The reason I ask this question is that there are many tour operators in Australia that are eco-certified. It would be great to see YHA take the lead in this area as well.

    I have added a link and a copy of what the eco-certification principles are.

    The ECO Certification program assures travellers that certified tours are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices that provide high-quality nature-based tourism experiences.

  2. Sarah says:

    Hi Rob or YHA Team

    I know you guy’s read this, and it would really nice to know your stance towards my question please?

    Kind Regards