ANWB webinar September 2021

‘Camping Trends: Sustainability – are you “green” enough yet?’

Innovation, inspiration, new ideas and knowledge-sharing – these are the goals of ANWB ‘Camp to the Future’. At the start of 2021, we hosted our first webinar as part of presenting the ANWB Campsite of the Year Awards. In the second edition of our digital event, we focussed on the Covid-19 pandemic. The third edition was entirely devoted to increasing the sustainability of camp sites.

In the third webinar, we've discussed the Green Deal, a project headed by EU commissioner Frans Timmermans: a 55% CO2 emission reduction by 2030 and reaching CO2 neutrality by 2050. How will this impact the camping sector? What are camping enthusiasts expecting in the area of sustainable campsites? What have other campsites developed as best practices? Together with sustainability experts and hands-on practitioners, we've guided you through future developments and addressed the following statements:

The Green Deal is too expensive; the investment will be too high.


Circularity will negatively impact my turnover in rental accommodation.


Flushing toilets with drinking water is no longer responsible these days.


Sustainability is not a USP for my campsite anymore; consumers aren’t interested in it.

Questions from the viewers

Many questions arose in the chat of the ANWB Webinar 'Camping Trends: Sustainability – are you “green” enough yet?' as a result of the discussion in the panel. Many questions were on the same subject. Here we summarize and answer them.

Jos van der Sterren: “The energy transition will not only bring more Tesla’s to campsites but will electrify also many other activities. Campsites should consider how they can generate electricity for own use (solar, wind etc) and then investments in charging stations may be covered partially by lower energy costs. It is also clear, governments will have to do their part to make sure electrical grids are supporting the transition and businesses that produce energy are compensated in the right way”.

Marco Walter: “I agree totally with Jos. Only wind energy is difficult on campsites because of noise and shadow effects. Maybe better combined heat and power plants (if there is enough need for the heating energy). Photovoltaic is always a good option, if you are not in a dark forest. Not only roofs can be covered with solar panels; the car parking is very suitable for huge solar plants. As an additional effect the cars are in the shadow and electric cars can be directly connected via a converter to the solar cells (check regional or national regulations!). The number of needed charging stations depends of course in the development of the electromobility in the source market. You should start with a smaller number of charging stations (5 seems to be enough for the beginning), the technique should be open for upscaling the number. But: for overnight campers slow chargers are okay, for short time guests (e.g. restaurant or pool guests) quick chargers are more important. With public quick chargers the campsite can attract additional customers for its public facilities.”

Alex Wassink: “Tesla’s and other electric cars are a big problem; those cars use a lot of power during their charging process. In urban areas the infrastructure is much more developed than in rural areas. In the rural areas there are not so many solutions yet for charging many e-cars at the same time, on the same spot. There is no grid available yet. Electricity companies and local government are busy with solutions.”

Jos van der Sterren: “There is no simple answer; it depends on the complexity of the business and the type of analysis you require. You may have already a small advice for less that EUR 1.000 but a good analysis may cost you between EUR 5.000 and EUR 10.000.”

Marco Walter: ‘A simple CO2-analysis costs about 500 Euro per year, an analysis and report according to Greenhouse Gas Protocol costs 1.000 to 1.500 Euro. Onsite-visit and consultancy depends on size and complexity of the business. I would estimate for a middle size 3-star campsite with swimming pool and 10 rental accommodations this might cost 2.500 Euro for a analysis, one day consultancy and report according Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Travel costs extra. These are prices from Ecocamping CO2-analysis and climate protection and efficiency consultation.”

Jos van der Sterren: “The high costs of biological food is usually related to the price of meat. If you change the menu and include more locally produced non-meat products, or less meat and more vegetables, you can cover part of the high cost of the expensive meat. Also, research and tests have proven that guests really appreciate it if you educate them by explaining that you give a little smaller proportions of meat and replace that with other food.”

Marco Walter: “More and more people are buying biological food in their normal life and offering this quality also on campsites will be very attractive for them. We know campsites, which are very successful with biological food in restaurant and shops, for example Uhlenköper Camp in Uelzen (Germany) and Camping Mexico in Bregenz (Austria). There are also package free shops like Camping Wirthshof in Markdorf (Germany). Love is going through the stomach and good-food-camps will be more and more important for campers.”

Alex Wassink: “Guests want good food for a reasonable price. This does not only concern biological food, also food from local companies is sustainable in some way, because the lack of transport emissions and costs. And: tell your customers the story about this food: where does it come from, how was it harvested, tell about the local companies, about local breeds of cattle. Storytelling is key - people like to be informed, also about food. As long as you make it interesting!”

Jos van der Sterren: “The boundaries are endless, would be my answer. Campsites are the perfect spot for educating (especially young) guests about the options and possibilities for sustainable consumption. You have to make it fun though and not present it as “a problem”.

Marco Walter: “Sustainable recreation needs good explanations. Why you are doing what, good offers (eco-friendly products, food, activities like nature oriented animation) and of course campsites, which are good models for sustainable thinking and behaviour. Eco-holidays should be more attractive, more comfortable and more fun than “normal” ones.”

Alex Wassink: “I totally agree with Jos and Marco. And besides that: your guests know much more than you think. Most of them are highly educated and well informed. And they already choose to be in nature, for a sustainable holiday. Tell them what you do on sustainability, and why you do it. Be passionate about nature, about your company, about your surroundings.”

Jos van der Sterren: “In line with circularity principles I would say: the first actions would be to focus on small measures that reduce use of chemicals, waste and energy. The second actions could be on re- using materials wherever possible. And the last would be to recycle materials and give them a new use.”

Marco Walter: “We suggest a first deep analysis of the whole campsite including the eco data and working out the chances for improvement. The next step is an individual action and investment plan, first starting with small and quick actions, then the bigger ones. Best to ask experienced consultants to support you with these steps.”

Alex Wassink: “Start with cutting costs by working on an efficient, eco-friendly way. Saving money with energy will make you enthusiastic and generates budget for other improvements. Just by starting will make your entrepreneur blood flow!”

Jos van der Sterren: “No I would not, but we should advice consumers to be conscious about the decisions they make when going on holiday: no planes for short haul flights, choose eco-certified destinations, accommodations, use less water and energy, behave like you would be doing at home, etc.”

Marco Walter: “I totally agree with Jos. And an additional aspect is this: people on campsites normally use less water and energy than staying at home! Therefor our mission is: Go camping for sustainability.”

Alex Wassink: “Of course we do no promote to stay at home, absolutely not. Holidays are necessary for our guests to relax after a year of hard work. Just by staying in nature your guests will enjoy and appreciate the fresh air from our 3-4-5 stars ‘open air hotels’. And as Marco says: your guests use less water and energy on campsites compared to their houses. Our campsites are the perfect and the most sustainable alternative for non-sustainable holidays such as holidays on cruise ships and fly-drives for city trips far away.”

Jos van der Sterren: “There are already many rules and regulations in place but very different per country. The new ones coming elate to CO2 taxation and these are under development and will be under implementation in all countries in EU. Check with your own local government.”

Marco Walter: “But of course, if you want to be a sustainable top runner, you have to jump faster than the legislations! Only being in line with law is no base for an advantage in the market.”

Jos van der Sterren: “At BUas we implement for bachelor students a specialisation called tourism impact lab: Tourism Impact Lab legt verbinding tussen studenten en toeristische bedrijven | Breda University of Applied Sciences (buas.nl) where students are cocreating with business owners new business concepts for a tourism with more positive social and environmental impact. The new master on Sustainable Outdoor Hospitality Management that will start in 2023, will also have a clear focus on circularity and sustainable development of campsites.”

How can you make your campsite CO2 neutral?
Check this five step plan!

1

First of all: Make a complete analysis of the CO2-footprint of your campsite. If you need a hand because of the lack of knowledge, get some advice from a CO2-consultancy agency. You’ve got to know the facts and figures to know what you’re up against and where potential quick wins lie.

2

And that’s what step two is about. Based on the analysis, you determine your goals and ambitions, and define your priorities and actions. Pro tip: start with the “low hanging fruit”: the easiest, fastest and cheapest changes. Immediate result and a good feeling, which gives you the energy to continue!

3

So now you’re ready for the big challenges. Before you dive into them, make a clear action plan and a well thought-out planning. Make sure you plan it in a way that has the least negative impact on potential occupancy! So don’t refit the swimming pool during the summer holiday 😉

4

Set clear and realistic targets for the reduction you intend to realize, in terms of use of water, energy and supply chain.

5

Finally, and this is very important: communicate to your guests! During the Webinar we’ve seen that sustainability is clearly something your guests care about, so take them along in your journey, and motivate them to do their part in recycling, and responsible use of resources. Make sure your actions are visible on your campsite as well as on your website and social media. It’s the best way to ensure a good return on investment.

As a final tip, remember that “going back to nature” is already a very big trend and plays a major role in choosing a holiday destination. So use that to make your story extra attractive.

Speakers

Speakers at the ANWB webinar of September 2021 included:

Jos van der Sterren
Jos van der Sterren

Project leader and lecturer in the MBA programme Master of Sustainable Outdoor Hospitality Management, a collaboration between the Universities of Reijka (Croatia), Girona (Spain) and Breda University of Applied Sciences (in the Netherlands).

Marco Walter
Marco Walter

Founder and manager of ECOCAMPING, one of the first certification agencies specialised in environmental protection and sustainability for campsites in Europe.

Alex Wassink
Alex Wassink

Former owner of the campsite De Papillon (the Netherlands), camping pioneer in the area of sustainability in the Netherlands, who’s been engaged with this topic since the 1990s.

Roel Clay
Roel Clay

Manager of Information and Advice for ANWB Camping, responsible for campsite classification and active within ANWB Camping with projects in the area of sustainability.

SAVE THE DATE!

Set aside an hour in your busy schedule for this webinar, organised by the ANWB Camping Team – your leading partner in the camping business. No registration required – instructions to follow in the final email on 28 September!