What is sustainable tourism? The UN has declared 2017 the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development — an entire year dedicated to reminding us that tourism just isn’t about seeing the sites: it’s about traveling and connecting with local people and local cultures, minimizing our impact on the environment, and growing local economies It is about growing peace through understanding.
Basically, by traveling and minimizing the negative impacts on the environment, economy and culture, we can make a difference in each other’s lives no matter where we are in the world.
I am proud of my role as a 2017 Ambassador of Change to support #IY2017.
As I have said in earlier blog posts, sustainability in travel sounds both unsexy and hard to do. It sounds like work, and the exact opposite of what most vacation for.
But if you are the type that loves to get out and experience the world, you probably already are a part of the sustainable travel movement.
But what is Sustainable Tourism, anyway? And how does traveling make the world a better place?
More importantly, can sustainable travel add value to my vacations?
Let’s define ‘Sustainable” Tourism.
“Sustainable tourism minimizes the negative impacts on the environment, economy and culture that mass tourism can destroy. But, this is an overarching umbrella term for all sorts of things both the traveler and tourism providers can aspire to.”
Let’s break down Sustainable Tourism into some of its different aspects.
This focuses on reducing environmental harm that tourism can cause in a destination.
Ecotourism has become an advertising hook for many travel providers- hotels, tour companies and the like.
- The trick is to determine which is valid and that which is just “green-washing”.
This one is a grass-roots effort mainly by the local people of a rural or remote area.
- The idea is they invite travelers to be a part, for a short time, of their way of life.
- It can include accommodations and tours developed and staffed by the local population.
- The income generated by these projects improve and preserve their way of life which otherwise may become extinct.
- There are some great companies that provide support to these efforts that help contribute to the solution through education, land leases, and luxury lodgings that bring commerce to the area.
Ethical tourism focuses on minimizing negative impacts of tourism through awareness of human rights and the environment.
- This an include knowing where your souvenirs are sourced.
- It can be an organization that supports endangered women or street children.
- A shop where I buy some of my pieces for travel in India in NYC, for instance, sources its beautiful hand-embroidered tunics from a coop in a poor Indian community for at-risk women with no other family.
- A foundation in Vietnam teaches street kids a way of life through its noodle shop.
Responsible tourism is tourism that minimizes the negative impacts on the environment, economy and culture.
Responsible Tourism is the wave of the present and future that preserves wonders for future… Click To Tweet
I like the term “responsible travel” because it makes me feel it is something I can actually do. And, moreover, it points to the way I, and many of my clients, like to travel- like a local, with access to culture, unique experiences, and a sense of adventure.
What does all this have to do with Luxury Travel, anyway? Isn’t it the exact opposite of responsible travel or sustainability?
That depends on how you define luxury.
True, in the past “luxury” meant superyachts and private planes. Today, luxury is more defined by customization of the travel experience; a journey is personal when designed with your interests at its core.
The luxury traveler wants greater access to authentic travel done very well.
The bonus: the commerce you bring to locales in thoughtful ways creates meaningful impact.
The best new hotels in exotic or exciting locations are focused not only on high design and super comfort, but also on their impact in the locale.
These luxury sustainable hotels are helping to conserve environments by eco-friendly construction and practices, and by creating preserves; they are preserving the locals’ ways of life through community projects, education and employment. Check out our blog post about travel for good: sustainable hotels to stay here.
At Enlightened Journeys Travel, it is my mission to help my clients #TravelforGood – good for them through handcrafted luxury travel itineraries for immersive journeys of a lifetime in comfortable world travel, and good for the luxury travel destinations they visit.