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Facilitate sustainable land excursions of cruise ship operators in the Baltic Sea
Date du début: 31 déc. 2011,

The main objective is to developing pilot actions in order to elaborate guidelines for the application of sustainability criteria for the product format ‘land excursions’. After the implementation and the evaluation of the pilot actions, it is intended to offer a standardised process for this product in order to promote the dissemination of the results within the cruise ship sector.Shore excursions are an indisputable highlight for many cruise passengers. Sustainable shore excursions not only create unforgettable impressions, but can also have a positive social and cultural impact in a region. For example, they can support economic development, promote the preservation of environmental and cultural heritage, and provide livelihoods for local citizens. By signing the UN WTO code of ethics for tourism in 2012, AIDA Cruises underlined its commitment to sustainable tourism. This commitment is being practically implemented within the project, “Sustainable Shore Excursions,” which is a co-operation between AIDA Cruises, Futouris e.V. and the state chancellery Mecklenburg-West Pomerania in Schwerin. The main goal of this project is to develop sustainability criteria for shore excursions using the Baltic Sea as an example.Aspects of sustainability can certainly be found in nearly all components of a shore excursion:One major aspect, for example, is the transfer of guests to the place of excursion. While there are several possibilities to do this, different ecological and technical aspects play a role in the final method of choice. By Foot, by bike, with a sailboat or a bus working with full capacity, there are a lot of ways to bring the guests to the destination in an environmentally compatible way. AIDA Cruises, for example, is the first cruise company that offers bike excursions in nearly every destination.Sustainable shore excursions are however much more comprehensive. Nearly all excursions include natural or cultural discovery or socio-cultural experiences which inspire people, and once they are so inspired, they are motivated to protect it. The very sight of whales swimming in the open ocean is enough to make the observer a supporter of marine conservation. Visits to information centers, historical and cultural sites or an excursion to an arresting landscape can also help convey the importance of regional nature and cultural heritage.The Sustainable Shore Excursions Project will involve two phases. For the first phase, we would like to develop a list of criteria to evaluate the sustainability of the different components of shore excursions. As a first step, more than 20 000 AIDA guests over a period of nearly three months were asked to join an online questionnaire about sustainable shore excursions. Three quarters of the guests stated that they would prefer sustainable shore excursions. In this context, the most important topics for the guests were waste reduction at the destination, the protection of nature and species, and the reduction of emissions caused by busses. In the second phase of the project, we plan to develop a detailed, comprehensive point system that allows us to assess the sustainability of shore excursions free of doubt. A shore excursion will be divided into its components, and each component will be given a number of points. The more points an excursion gets, the more sustainable it is. This way, a biking excursion will get more points than a panorama tour by bus, for example. However, even the panorama bus tour can catch up if the technology is up to date and they are operating at full passenger capacity. Several, additional aspects will be considered when developing the list of criteria, such as intensive natural or cultural experiences, typical food from regional produce and certified field and cultural guides. We expect to finish the first phase by the middle of 2013. Achievements: Meanwhile standardized criteria for sustainable shore excursions have been developed as part of a joint project between AIDA Cruises, the sustainability initiative Futouris e.V. and the State Chancellery of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which coordinates activities in the Priority Area Tourism of the EU Strategy for Baltic Sea Region. Eighteen of about 90 AIDA shore excursion options in the Baltic Sea Region have already obtained the sustainability seal.



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