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At Visit Herts, we believe that regenerative tourism is a key element to unlocking Hertfordshire’s sustainable future, by balancing the economic benefits of the visitor economy with the need to ensure that tourism also delivers a positive impact on communities and plays it's part in protecting our valuable natural environment, making sure that Hertfordshire becomes an increasingly sustainable destination for visitors and residents for years to come.

However, tourism needs to be managed properly: it’s a delicate balance that we as a Destination Management Organisation (DMO) and accredited Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP), must monitor, as tourism can also adversely affect the county’s beautiful natural assets which make Hertfordshire a must visit hidden gem in the UK. Our 2023 annual Hertfordshire residents survey shows that 50% of respondents agreed that tourism can have a negative impact on the environment. Conversely, 43% agreed that tourism can protect and enhance the natural environment when managed well. This demonstrates the importance of our mission to work with purpose-led businesses and to continue to uphold our responsibilities around nature, community and climate.

A 2023 report from the World Travel and Tourism Council and Group confirmed that 69% of travellers are seeking sustainable travel options. This is reflected in the rising consumer demand for both leisure and corporate travellers who are increasingly making more sustainably conscious decisions and are expecting the same from destinations and businesses. This is why sustainable tourism is a huge opportunity for Hertfordshire as it will improve the visitor experience and bolster footfall that will support local businesses. Whilst this is the case, there are still barriers that we need to address around sustainable behaviour. According to the 2023 MIDAS study by VisitBritain, the perceived cost, understanding and lack of reliable information around sustainable tourism are the main reasons why visitors make less sustainable choices whilst on holiday.

In pursuing this, we will be working collaboratively with key partners such as tourism businesses, local authorities, transport operators, nature based organisations and national industry partners to tackle larger issues and respond to emerging trends. We’ll also strive to tackle the aforementioned barriers by inspiring and educating visitors, by embedding it as a core message across all our channels in a clear and concise way to deliver positive behavioural change.


Our priorities

Whilst there is a wide range of areas that need to be addressed to improve tourism’s impact on nature, community and climate, we have prioritised three key areas that would have the most impact across the tourism sector: Food for Good, Go Nature Positive and Modal Shift. That doesn’t mean we’re forgetting other areas that would also have an impact, such as ethical supply chains, water reduction and food waste, which can all be found in our list of 10 Impact resources containing plenty of guidance for businesses to make use of.

  • Food For Good

    The number one priority for visitors is experiencing local food and drink. That’s why our local producers are such a significant part of what makes Hertfordshire special. This was confirmed in our 2022 perception research which shows that 56% of visitors prioritise Good places to eat and drink in their top 5 most important things to do during short-breaks and day-breaks in England. By celebrating local produce and placing it at the heart of the visitor experience we can reduce food miles considerably for the area, support local communities through their supply chains and offer unique experiences.


    Action areas

    • Supporting businesses to develop more local and seasonal menus which celebrate local producers, as these will significantly reduce a business’s carbon footprint and support local producers.

    • It’s not always easy navigating procurement processes and large-scale catering contracts to become a supplier to other local businesses, especially when competing on price alone. That’s where we can help to better sell your story and connect with purpose-led hospitality businesses who are looking to grow their menus.

    • Of course, we can’t forget to increase the awareness and demand for Hertfordshire local producers. That’s why we’re actively promoting local food and drink opportunities such as restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as inviting them to markets, festivals and events where visitors won’t miss out on the hidden food and drink gems that can be discovered across Hertfordshire.
  • Go Nature Positive

    Hertfordshire’s picturesque landscapes and beautiful locations enrich the destination considerably, which is why it’s one of the top reasons for visitors exploring the unique experiences in Hertfordshire (30% of visitors visited the county due to it being a 'beautiful place' see our 2022 perception research for more information). However, heritage sites such as National Trust’s Ashridge Estate are being damaged by a high concentration of footfall, which is putting it’s special area of woodland and unique habitats at risk. Natural assets are a key reason for visiting Hertfordshire, so let’s work on protecting them by encouraging visitor dispersal and sustainable behaviour so that Hertfordshire retains it’s natural beauty.


    Action areas

    • We will support nature positive tourism initiatives that conserve, preserve or restore landscapes, habitats and wildlife.

    • Create visitor dispersal and collaborate with key partners such as The Chilterns National Landscape, National Trust, Herts & Middlesex Wildlife trust and Hertfordshire County Council on creating behavioural change to protect Hertfordshire’s natural assets.

    • We can help disperse visitors to different sites throughout the county via our communications, to inspire visitors to be more sustainable through activity-centred features such as walking or cycling. We also keep our content seasonal ensuring that we include relevant events, hospitality businesses's seasonal menus, dog-friendly places, and much more, so that visitors always have something to look forward to when they get to Hertfordshire no matter the time of year. 

    • Many of the businesses we work with have either got pockets of greenspace or large areas of land so we’ll support them in finding ways to further contribute to those green spaces via protecting natural habitats and local biodiversity. We’ll also direct them to other businesses who have such initiatives in place, providing them with the opportunity to collaborate and come up with new initiatives of their own.

    • Through our many features, we can direct visitors to nature positive activities such as active travel, businesses’ nature positive products and events happening across the county. This will create a continuous knock-on effect which will positively impact visitor behaviour and support local nature initiatives.
  • Modal Shift

    Lastly, we need to keep in mind that the biggest impact in terms of carbon emission levels from visitors is linked to the way people travel to get to their destination.

    There are good connections into the county, however, some parts are more rural and remain disconnected from main public transport routes. These last mile gaps are a huge barrier for visitors who want to travel more sustainably.

    In addition, the cost, convenience and lack of travel information can cause unnecessary stress, especially for international visitors, who are trying to find their way around. We therefore need to shift visitors to low carbon travel and active travel, by making it easier for visitors to choose these different options and find out information easily.

    Eastern – Western train connectivity is a recognised challenge for the county, making it difficult to move around the destination. Only by collaborating with partners locally and nationally will these systemic challenges be resolved, resulting in a lower number of visitors using the car (according to our 2022 perception research 77% of visitors use their car) and improving negative perceptions from residents around parking and traffic.


    Action areas

    • Help businesses and transport operators to incentivise green travel by rewarding the customer through discounts and communicate green travel options effectively.

    • We’ll work collaboratively with transport operators, local authorities and tourism businesses to overcome last mile barriers and work towards integrated leisure travel into and around the county.

    • We’ll engage with local authority and transport operators to ensure that leisure travel needs are factored into local transport planning.

    • We’ll support businesses with signposting facilities such as bike racks and EV chargers in the local area, whilst helping them to better communicate their last mile route on their website for visitors to make use of.

    • On a national level, we’ll work with VisitEngland and other national partners to ensure that the needs of leisure travellers are considered in policy decisions to achieve a more affordable, integrated transport network that works for visitors. The same will also apply to ensure that an increase in digital connectivity is considered for visitors to navigate and find accurate information throughout their journey.

Sustainability Hub

Sustainability is on everyone's minds, which is why our sustainability hub was built around helping local businesses get ready for a cleaner and brighter future.

There’s a lot of great information out there on how to start your sustainability journey. The list is long however, and we know that running a business takes time, making the process of starting your sustainability journey all the more difficult. That’s where our sustainability hub will come in useful, as it’s easy to navigate and find the information you’re looking for.

Our Impact Resources include a range of 10 resources which will serve as a guide for businesses to adopt more sustainable practices and assist businesses in taking positive action as part of their sustainability journey.

Coupled with the resources is a growing list of Impact Heroes showcasing what innovative practices are happening around Hertfordshire. If you have already started the journey, why not join our Impact Heroes programme, and spread the word about what makes your business unique and serve as an inspiration to others.

Frequently Asked Questions


    Tourism has the power to create positive impacts. It also has the potential to impact negatively if not managed thoughtfully and purposefully. Sustainable or responsible tourism is about planning tourism with purpose; so that it does more good and a lot less harm. Ultimately, this approach to tourism makes for a more enjoyable experience for visitors too.


    More and more visitors, as well as local residents, are choosing travel businesses and destinations that are able to offer lower carbon, nature friendly experiences and will actively choose those businesses that are consciously more ‘purpose-led’ in their approach.

    Whether it is saving energy or making better use of food waste, designing your business operations in a more sustainable way has the potential to save money too. How a company treats people, and the planet matters more to potential employees and visitors than ever before. Upholding our responsibilities to communities, nature and climate is ultimately not only essential for our future, but it also makes good business sense too.

  • How does this fit with wider strategies?

    The Sustainability Hub is aligned with local and national strategies including the Sustainable Hertfordshire strategy, Hertfordshire's Local Transport Plan, the Growth Board Vision and our own 2021 Visit Herts Strategy.

    Additionally, we are actively feeding into the development of the VisitEngland strategy which has a strong focus on regenerative tourism and will support the development of Hertfordshire's Local Nature Recovery Strategy. 

  • How will Visit Herts communicate sustainability to visitors?

    In order to make a difference in sustainable tourism and inspire visitors, we aim to deliver content that is succinct, user-friendly, and captivating, avoiding any sense of guilt. It's important to resonate with consumers' existing understanding of sustainability while shining a light on our Impact Heroes and their endeavours within Hertfordshire's sustainable tourism scene.

    By sharing genuine stories, we aim to forge a connection with our audience, showcasing how sustainable tourism not only enriches holiday experiences but also positively impacts communities, nature, and climate.

    Ultimately, our aim is to motivate visitors to make ethical choices and actively engage with the Hertfordshire tourism community, presenting ourselves as a destination worth exploring and supporting. Through educational and inspirational communication, we guide and encourage sustainable practices for a brighter future.

  • Who is Visit Herts working with on sustainable tourism?

    We are working with a number of key partners including businesses, local authorities, Hertfordshire LEP, nature and landscape organisations, transport providers and national partnerships to tackle the larger issues that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to address alone. If you're interested in working with Visit Herts on your sustainability initiative, please get in touch with

  • What other sustainability support is available for Herts businesses?

    Further sustainability support can be found in the list of external resources at the bottom of each impact resources page. The Hertfordshire Growth Hub, Wenta's Action Zero programme, VisitEngland's Business Advice Hub and the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce's Go Green and Grow group are just a few that you can use to get your business becoming more sustainable.

  • How can I work with VH to share our sustainability message.

    If you are a partner, then the main way to share your sustainability message is through your Impact Hero page, but if you’re not at that point in your journey yet, there are other viable options to share your message effectively to both businesses and consumers.

    If you have an exciting new initiative or event centred around sustainability, then we can share it through our social media posts (LinkedIn/X) and Partner News newsletters that are shared with businesses on our B2B mailing list. Alternatively, you can also join us for networking events to discuss further ideas with other like-minded businesses who are also progressing through their sustainability journey.

    Spread your sustainability message to existing or new consumers by becoming an investor:

    • Showcase your business through captivating content shared on Instagram, X and Facebook, that not only attracts visits but also instils confidence, while aiding partners in tapping into fresh audiences.
    • Take advantage of our collaborative marketing initiatives and campaign opportunities, all under the umbrella of our robust destination brand.
    • Join our network, which grants you access to invaluable insights, intelligence, specialised training, and ongoing support to further enhance your endeavours.
  • Where should I start with the Impact resources?

    To make a start on your sustainability journey, you can firstly identify the most pressing issue for your business. Then using the information and relevant external resources, you can begin to plan out your strategy.

    If you have already have one, then the priority is to compare your strategy to our impact resources to identify any potential gaps in order to progress further on your sustainability journey.

  • What do I need to/How do I become an Impact Hero?

    Whether your business is big or small and you have started your sustainability journey, become an Impact Hero by completing our online Google form. Please provide at least 4 images and a short video that’s no longer than 2 minutes (video is optional for registration). Use the link below to tell us about sustainable initiatives in your business or organisation. Examples include those that centre on nature-positive activities or experiences, reducing energy-use and celebration of local produce.  


What next?

  • Make a list of the actions relevant to you and the steps you’re going to take. Set your own targets.
  • Use our Impact Resources to help you on your sustainability journey.
  • Be inspired by our Impact Heroes: businesses like yours who have taken action on sustainability.

If you have questions or stories that you think might help or inspire other tourism businesses working to be more sustainable, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch with or you can sign up to be an Impact Hero here.

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