Sustainable shore excursions, Baltic Sea
Sustainable shore excursions not only provide AIDA guests with unforgettable holiday experiences, but also contribute to the economic development, the environmental protection, the protection of cultural heritage and the improvement of the livelihood of the local population.
AIDA Cruises is one of the pioneers from the cruise industry concerning "sustainable shore excursions" and continuously expands their excursion offer. In collaboration with the Staatskanzlei Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the Leuphana Universität Lüneburg AIDA Cruises and Futouris e.V. developed standardized criteria for sustainable shore excursions. The main objective was to create a transparent basis of comparison to evaluate the sustainability of excursion offers with the help of measurable and scientific criteria.
In the beginning of 2014 all excursions in the Baltic Sea Region have been rated according to the new criteria catalogue. After that the evaluation model has been transfered to all trips of AIDA Cruises in global destinations. The company currently offers 142 shore excursions and 230 bike- and pedelec-tours which are classified as sustainable. Among them are also kayak tours and fun sports.
All trips by AIDA Cruises which fulfull the standardised social, ecological and cultural criteria, are labeled with the tree-symbol. Thereby guests can identify particularly sustainable trips already during the booking process at MyAIDA.
The four main criteria for the evaluation of excursions are the transport, the focus of the trip (e.g. culture, nature), the catering and the sustainability commitment of the local partner agency. Apart from that several minor criteria are considered. In the area of transport the avoidance of CO2-emissions is particularly important. Bike trips which start directly at the ship get more points than the use of low-emission busses. The local compensation of CO2-emissions is also positively rated. Nature trips with a trained ranger who informs the visitors about species protection are classified as particularly sustainable.
Another important topic is the catering. The use of regional products for local specialties is most important for sustainable excursions. The observation of minimum standards for the employees of the local agencies according to the core labour standards of the ILO (International Labour Organization) also plays a critical role.
The main objective was to create a transparent basis of comparison to evaluate the sustainability of excursions with the help of measurable and scientific criteria and to enable the assessment by independent experts and institutions as well as the transfer to different destinations.
The concept was developed in close collaboration with scientists, associations and organisations of destination managers, top performers and experts. The practicality has been tested during a pilot project in the Baltic Sea region. After that the results have been reported in the criteria catalogue which has been submitted to all of Futouris members in October 2015.