Running a busy small business carries a number of wider responsibilities to operate as a good corporate and community citizen as well as undertake various environmental sustainability measures.
Appreciating the holistic value of tourism motivates Shizuka Ryokan to maintain various contributions to increase the level of mutual respect between industry and community. In a village such as Hepburn Springs, tourism is not only a key economic driver and employer, it has also been shown to often be a glue that keeps communities and families together.
Employment: Our role of employer is an important means of enhancing the experience and skillsbase of the community. This is a particularly important factor in a region which has a relatively high reliance on tourism as an economic and social driver. Accordingly, staff and community development are important ongoing priorities implemented by informal pro-bono mentoring provided to individuals both internal and external to the business.
Community: We acknowledge local indigenous Djadja Wurrung elders by a plaque at reception. Positive flow-on effects to the local economy are derived from our local purchasing of various goods and services including foodstuffs, electrical equipment and various trades. Various in-kind donations and sponsorships have been provided to a wide range of organisations, including local schools, charities and fire brigades. The total value of these is usually around $3,500 each year. This is particularly significant in a region characterised by relatively low income levels combined with relatively high consumer prices.
Industry: Familiarisation visits are regularly arranged for media and industry. We refer to quality local businesses such as restaurants and offer guests other “insider” local intelligence. We are also active in joint cooperative marketing. We regularly volunteer to host the local “Aperitifs” industry networking functions.
Informed by the proprietors’ time in Japan and their own sustainability moral compass, Shizuka Ryokan is committed to minimising its environmental impact. This is implemented via staff training protocols and demonstrated through a broadly based sustainability policy with some key initiatives illustrated below.
Energy: Install signage to encourage sustainable transport, energy and water conservation; focus visitor information on walking tours, winery tours and public transport; ensure hot water thermostats are monitored and adjusted to maximise efficiency.
Water: Water dependant plants are replaced with drought-tolerant varieties; water efficient toilets and showers operate; water filtering system installed to replace bottled drinking water.
Cleaning: Cleaning products are assessed for biodegradability, environmental impact and safety; dispensers are used to minimise individually packaged toiletries; cold water washing; tumble drying minimised; outdoor clothes line utilised; an opt-out option for towel exchange and cleaning.
Waste: The separation of recyclable, organic, e-waste and landfill items for disposal; use of reusable napery, glassware, crockery and cutlery and zero use of disposables; paper towels are used when required for food safety reasons; food waste is provided for local animals; electronic and online publication of marketing collateral, all booking confirmations and staff communications.
Purchasing: Goods, services and produce purchased locally and in bulk; energy efficient appliances and whitegoods are purchased as replacements; local and seasonal produce is utilised whenever possible to reduce food miles; in-house production of spa and wellness products with minimal packaging.
Land Use: The establishment of a composting facility built with recycled timber; provision of on-site staff accommodation significantly reduces transport impacts; staff are provided with a bicycle for local transport; the establishment of a small vegetable garden.
To maintain our sustainability, we utilise various excellent online resources such as “Carbon Compass”, “ResourceSmart” and “Tourism Excellence” to provide checklists, ideas, educational and training resources, signage and benchmarking for further sustainability enhancements.