Is Sustainability no longer “in fashion”?

In the past months, we have found that google searches for topics like Ecolodge and Ecotourism have not been as prominent as a few years ago.   So we dug in a bit deeper as we got concerned that sustainability could have been considered just a ” trend” or a ” fad”.

We looked at Google Trends for statistics on searches for topics that we relate with sustainability in general:   Ecotourism, Sustainability, Eco and Sustainable.   We limited our search for the US only as it is the most important feeder market for tourism here in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Searches for Sustainability Related Topics
Development of Searches for Sustainability related topics over the past 10 years.  Significant growth started in 2007.  Note the peak in April 2010.  Projections for 2015 show no significant changes.

Not too surprising, we found that interest in topics related to sustainability started to grow exponentially in 2007 and peaked in April 2010.   However, then things started to level off and even decrease.   The current interest levels are still well above 2007, however, Google predicts zero to negative growth for the next months on those search terms.

So what happened?   Was sustainability really just a trend?   Is it out of fashion?   Did the economic recovery in the US play a role in this?  Have we just accepted that our lifestyles are not sustainable?  Are we sick and tired of hearing about climate change?    So what would it take to put interest sustainability back on track?
Puma in the Lapa Rios Ecolodge Private Reserve on the Osa Peninsula.  Definition of Ecotourism: tourism directed toward exotic, often threatened, natural environments, especially to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife.

One thing is for sure, sustainability is a great concept, but not a very sexy word.  Try to use the word sustainable in a promotional campaign.  It does not really work so well.  ” Eco” does much better, but what does it mean?   Eco-what?   We have come across many  projects that call themselves ” Eco Residential” because they planted a few trees around the parking lot, ” Eco Golf Courses” are built  in arid areas of the world and the other day we found  an ” Eco Car Wash” which is ““ no pun intended ““ probably the winner of this green washing trend.

But back to our original question.   Is sustainability only a trend and no longer in fashion?   Maybe in the mainstream media.   But here is what we found on the ground at our Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Eco Lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  We run certificed  Eco Lodges and are involved in long term  Ecotourism projects.

Restaurant at Jicaro
Diamanda started as a waitress at Jicaro Island Ecolodge in Nicaragua and now is the leader of the food and beverage department.  Sustainable tourism involves training a local staff and offering them opportunities.

Our guests very much appreciate all the efforts we make to be more sustainable every day.   They are becoming more sophisticated and ask the right kind of questions.   More and more they are understanding that it not just about energy efficient buildings and Leed Certification.   The hiring and training of the local staff, the farm and ocean to table culinary concepts, the interpretation of nature and culture by local guides and the connection with the communities where we operate are just a few of the concepts that our guests get to experience every day.

We have been working on making the sustainability industry more sustainable since the mid-90’s when the word sustainability was only used by a few college professors and tree-huggers.   And of course we were very happy when public figures like Al Gore and Sir Richard Branson brought sustainability to attention of the masses as it supported our efforts even more.   But no matter where the trend goes, we will continue every day to make sure that our operations and the communities where we operate are continuing their path to creating a better future for the next generations.   In the end, that is what sustainability is all about.
Getting involved in Sustainability Experiences creates great guest satisfaction.  Planting a tree near Manuel Antonio National Park as part of the sustainability program of Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort.

We would love to hear your opinion on this.   Do you think that sustainability is just a trend?   Or do you think the eco and green movement are here to stay.   Send us a note to [email protected] or visit our Facebook Page and leave a comment.

The Cayuga Collection is made up of eight eco lodges, eco resorts, and sustainable hotels in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  We strive to create the perfect symbiosis of sustainability and luxury always providing a sense of place taking into account local culture and customs. We are the antithesis of mass tourism.   For more information, visit our website.

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