Holiday season is almost here, so what a better occasion to think about our travel habits and their impact on the surrounding world. In this blog series we, together with our collaborators, examine the growing travel and tourism industry, and give you practical tips on how to leave more hand than footprints. Whether you’re an inveterate globe-trotter (yes, we are!) or a travel business executive, this blog is for you.

Passionate about #travel and #sustainability? Let us know what you think, and feel free to suggest ideas to delve into!

Safe travels!
Maija Peltola, Chief Camaleonte

On your next travel, leave more handprints than footprints

You have a passion for travelling: Discovering locations; experiencing different cultures and ways of life; learning a language; doing something you’ve always dreamed of. You may have fallen in love with a place, but seen it deteriorate due to mass tourism – and you certainly don’t want to be one of those tourists. What does it mean to be a “responsible traveler” while still enjoying your trip? How can you contribute to positive change, to sustainable travel – on any type of budget?

A catalyst for change

Let’s face it, travel is a powerful force to reckon with in terms of the economy, cash flows, employment, movement of people, and learning or raising awareness. According to the World Tourism Organization 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report we are talking about 10% of global GDP, 7% of global trade and one in every 11 jobs!

The United Nations has recognized the central role that sustainable tourism can play in protecting the environment; decreasing poverty; improving quality of life; empowering women, youth, and marginalized people; fostering cultural understanding between peoples. These are the reasons why 2017 was declared as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IY2017).

Tourism is a catalyst for change – for better or for worse. The good news is that we can choose which way we tip the scales.

 

What is sustainable tourism?

It’s true the terminology can be confusing. There is ecotourism, a movement that grew in the 1980’s focusing on bringing people back to nature; green or eco-friendly travel; community-based travel in which tourism benefits the communities; fair travel much like Fair Trade; ethical travel and its dilemmas of politics, human rights, etc; social impact travel with participation or visits to locally beneficial projects; responsible travel practices that engage with local communities and support them financially to have viable ways of living; sustainable travel that should meet the needs of the present generations without compromising the needs of future generations.

All these terms include maintaining, preserving, and respecting not only the environment, but also the communities, the economy, the culture, and the history of a location. After all, those are what makes a place special and worth travelling to. In sum, sustainable travel could be described as doing no harm and creating positive change. This means having a positive impact on the environment, economy and people, and ensuring money spent during and on a trip stays in the community. That ensures that communities have viable alternatives, and don’t have to resort to unethical ways of living, such as sex tourism or poaching.

 

Smarter choices: Making places better to live in & visit

Whatever type of travels you are going for – be it hiking, being in the wilderness, appreciating culture, relaxing on the beach and so on – you can achieve sustainable travel. It’s about making smarter choices to decrease your negative impact (or footprint) on a given destination, while increasing your positive impact (or handprint).

So how do you go about it – without having to travel rough or splash out on premium prices for luxury? There is no one way. Every type of, and style of travel can be done in a responsible manner. This blog for travelers and travel executives looks at some of the principles that can help guide you. Hop on board: You will find practical guidance for making smart choices in the next posts.

Camaleonte Oy/ Miriam Azar & Maija Peltola