You love travel. You also love the earth. In fact, you love the earth so much you want to see more of it. But is it possible to be a frequent flier in an environmentally friendly way?
Of course, there are any number of “green” hotels and eco-retreats out there, but those comprise a relatively small segment of the travel industry. We found this interesting article that poses the question: can large scale tourism ever be sustainable? The story focuses on discussions from the second World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi, which was held in December. The conference did away with preconceived ideas of sustainable tourism and focused on addressing the core issues of how to offer sustainable products for the mass market:
The only way sustainable tourism will make a difference is if it’s embraced by the mass travel and hospitality sectors and promoted to the consumer properly – at the right price and via evidence of the product actually being sustainable, rather than merely “going green”.
According to Professor Harold Goodwin, director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, small-scale eco-tourism is a mistake because it takes the focus off the bigger picture. ”There is no doubt in my mind that progress can only be made by dealing with big companies and mainstreaming significant change towards sustainability,” he said. All forms of tourism could be more responsible, Goodwin said, but it would require someone to take responsibility. He believes companies should be challenged to take responsibility for their impact.Many travelers say they care about sustainability and are interested in environmentally-friendly travel. But when it comes down to booking a trip, it’s all about “the right product at the right price,” according to Justin Francis, chief executive and co-founder of ResponsibleTravel.com. ”I’m fed up with the research that keeps coming out asking if people will pay more for responsible tourism,” he said. “Why should responsible or more thoughtful tourism be more expensive? Why should using local guides or fresh food, saving costs on energy and water and waste, be more expensive? We made a mistake-it doesn’t need to be more expensive.”
Carbon offsetting was another mistake in Goodwin’s opinion, because it took the pressure off the airlines to reduce carbon emissions. “We know there are significant changes that can be made on new technology,” Goodwin said. “But currently there is no incentive other than the rising price of oil to force the industry to do that-it’s a missed opportunity.”
Sustainability is a topic that affects all of us who love to travel, and it will be interesting to see how the industry addresses these issues in the future.
Whether you’re jetting off to plant trees in the rainforest or just bringing your own water bottle for a flight to Detroit, contact us for help with getting the most out of your frequent flier miles.