Travel is booming and there’s increasing pressure for the tourism industry not to put too much on the planet. It’s important that we all do our part. A brighter future is possible because every traveler who stands up for the right and supports sustainable tourism practices plays a crucial role.
This guide will help you to understand how to best support eco- and ethical travel operators, and what steps you can take in order to make a positive difference.
You should look for certification
Greenwashing is a growing trend with more people trying to travel responsibly. You’ll find sustainability claims on any travel website. Do your research before you make a booking for a hotel, tour, or other travel experience. Does the company have B Corp certification? Do they adhere to Leave No Trace principles? Are they members of 1% for the Planet. Is it committed to taking tangible climate action by signing up for the Glasgow Declaration Why not continue looking for a company that has signed.
Travel insurance that is simple and flexible
Travel operators have to be more eco-conscious than ever before, as practices that were once considered ‘eco’ are now commonplace. Guests can now choose not to have their towels washed daily at hotels. This does not make them eco-friendly. True green accommodation is sustainable, energy-saving, and carbon-neutral. When it comes to driving social change, money speaks louder than words.
Some airlines offer guests the chance to pay a little more to help them adopt sustainable practices and measure how many travelers want them to. Some airlines offer passengers the option to offset any carbon generated by their flight by ticking a box at booking. Many accommodation providers offer carbon-neutral stays with an additional levy. To increase its sustainability efforts, African eco-safari operator Singita does exactly that. Singita uses carbon offset funds to benefit local communities, and reduce climate impact.
Some tourism operators also have a foundation or philanthropic arm that guests can support. You can make a big (or small) donation to help local children get to school or to fund ecosystem regeneration. It’s easy to make a donation at the time you book.
Ask questions and share knowledge
You can’t expect to find an ethical or eco tour operator no matter how diligent you are in your search. It’s possible to be disappointed by a safari, dive, or camel riding trip that puts profit above animal welfare. Do your research before you jump to any conclusions. Ask about the living conditions of your camel, how they sleep, and what they eat. It doesn’t matter how awkward it is, sharing your knowledge about animal welfare, marine standards, and responsible eco practices can help tour operators improve their operations. You’ll let them know that you care about ethical and eco-related matters, and maybe they will be inspired to change.
It is important to take the time to write to management and express your concerns clearly and politely. This will ensure that any feedback you give in person to staff at hotels or tour guides gets to people who can make policy changes. After your visit, fill out the questionnaires for any hotels and send an email to the tour operator detailing how they can reduce their environmental impact, better treat animals, or better support local communities. You will not be booking again with them until these improvements are made.
Leave a review
Reviews are a major factor in our decision making process. If you have received a disappointing response to any other feedback, please share it with TripAdvisor, Google and their website. It’s clear that sharing poor performance by a tourism operator with others travelers is not acceptable. Bad reviews can directly impact their bottom line, as they know as well as us. They could use yours to get the motivation they need.
It is easy to look at the negatives but it can be equally helpful to recognize when a company does right by the environment and make an effort to be responsible. Travel operators deserve a pat on their back for doing a great job. You can share your positive experiences via social media and say thank you to any tourism operator for going the extra mile. Leave a review that highlights the effort they make to conserve water, reduce emissions, or support conservation.