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Surrounding Earth Day this Week: Tourism for Social Good is Fundamental to its Future GrowthApril 13, 2015 By: Apple Vacations
Little things that guests do can add up, such as reusing hotel towels and sheets and turning off the lights and air conditioner when they leave their guest rooms.
Environmentally Conscious Travelers
Travelers can be respectful of nature by sticking to the trail when hiking to preserve the local flora and not touching coral when snorkeling, which can cause irreparable damage. When visitors buy local when shopping for souvenirs and interact with the local people it not only creates a more culturally-rich vacation but also offers new appreciation for the native environment.
Recently, Sustainable Travel International, a group committed to “a healthier environment, greater economic opportunity, social justice and the protection of natural and cultural resources” within the travel and tourism industry, launched the 10-year “10 Million Better” campaign. It asks tourism corporations, organizations and destinations worldwide to come together in the group’s goal to improve the lives of at least 10 million people by 2025 through sustainable efforts.
"socially and environmentally conscious travelers” are most likely to support economic, conservationism or sustainability activities"
For many travelers, sustainability is a priority and travel agents need to understand their commitment and make their own efforts to find eco-friendly resorts, tour operators and destinations that will excite their clients. Sustainable tourism businesses are defined as “those that are profitable while conserving natural resources and benefitting local communities,” according to Sustainabletrip.org. The site is a useful tool for agents looking to book sustainable trips at hotels, tour operators and other tourism business.
The 2015 Virtuoso Luxe Report listed the following actions that “socially and environmentally conscious travelers” are most likely to support as economic, conservationism or sustainability activities (48%); local sustainability efforts (38%); hotels with green practices (31%); hotels that give back and/or support local residents (28%); and giving back to local communities through monetary support (20%).
Travel Professionals Encouraging Green Travel
The discussion and growth of sustainable resorts continues on at the The New York Travel Festival, that hosted a Structuring Tourism for Social Good discussion emphasizing that, "responsible and sustainable approaches in the tourism industry are fundamental to its future growth. Managing and assessing our impact on livelihoods, communities, and the environment both at home and abroad is essential". Travel agents are uniquely positioned to ask questions as an approach to educating clients on environmentally-friendly destinations.
"responsible and sustainable approaches in the tourism industry are fundamental to its future growth. Managing and assessing our impact on livelihoods, communities, and the environment both at home and abroad is essential"
When helping environmentally-friendly clients decide on where to stay, agents should ask about a property’s green practices. Hotels that are Rainforest Alliance Verified, for example, show their commitment to reducing their environmentally impact, according to the Rainforest Alliance, a group dedicated to conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainability.
Among the questions the group suggests asking before you book to see if a business has embraced sustainability are: what is your environmental policy; what percentage of your employees are local citizens; do you support any projects to benefit the local community; is your business certified; what sorts of policies have you implemented to reduce water consumption, conserve energy or recycle wastes; how do you educate visitors about local natural areas, wildlife, energy conservation, and local culture?
Surprising Examples of Green Practices in Tourism
The New York Times' reported this month on Leonardo DiCaprio's Eco-Resort, "When it opens to guests in 2018, 'Caye, a Restorative Island' will feature the trappings of many luxury resorts, with sprawling villas, infinity pools and stunning sunset views." The island suffered from overfishing and an eroding coastline. With a marine grass nursery and artificial reefs, DiCaprio's investment in an environmental movement and as he states, "A showcase for what is possible."
A rendering of the resort. Credit: McLennan Design
Rainforest Alliance features many more environmentally friendly resorts such as Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa. Located on the Sea of Cortez, this resort has a traditional colonial Mexican design. It is active in turtle conservation, protecting on-site turtle nests and releasing turtles once they are born. Behind-the-scenes, the resort uses a desalinization plant, allowing the property to have an independent water supply from the city and reusing the ocean water. It also recycles kitchen oil to help prevent pollution and conserve energy.
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa. This Riviera Maya resort sits on two miles of white sand and has done much in its daily running of the resort to follow a green practice. It respects its magnificent location by participating in beach cleanup campaigns every 15 days as well as having local flora and fauna protection, including an awareness program for guests and staff. Coral reef and sea turtle protection programs and participation in the Planet Hour and Earth Day are also part of its every day way of doing business. The resort is about to receive federal government certification through its environmental administration program, which helps to minimize emissions, contamination and waste. A biologist sits on its executive committee.
Secrets Capri Rivera Cancun Resort
Secrets Capri Rivera Cancun's Green efforts are part of the guest experience at this adults-only beachfront property 35 minutes from Cancun and five minutes from Playa del Carmen. Guests can learn about local culture from visiting Mayan community members, take an ecological tour with flora and fauna preservation, and purchase Mayan souvenirs made by local artists that help the local communities. The resort also boasts sea turtle protection programs, monthly beach cleanups and participation in Planet Hour and Earth Day. It is committed to toner and battery recycling, laundry efficiency to avoid chemical waste, energy-efficient lighting and has a water treatment plant that uses the treated water to irrigate hotel gardens.
This article is brought to you by Apple Vacations, and was produced in partnership with Travel Agent Central’s sales team. Travel Agent Central’s editorial team played no part in developing the article.