‘The UN declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, adding momentum to a trend that is ever on the increase and to a sector of the industry that will ideally one day be the norm.
Over the past decades as the world became more accessible, the increase in tourism numbers has had an unavoidably negative impact on the environment, leading professionals in the travel industry to work towards change and set in place criteria that would enforce responsible travel and protect our most popular destinations.
In my own evolution I’ve come to understand the importance of what I refer to as conscious travel.
The need to be present wherever you are, respectful and aware of our surroundings be they urban or wilderness, the people hosting us and the insight that they so generously offer into their worlds.
Shades of Green Travel
Among the green travel trends, staycations have increased in popularity, with many travellers choosing to stay local for their holidays. This has boosted local economies and communities and is popular with those preferring to avoid the time and expense of flights.
Being selective in your choice of accommodation. Look to family-run businesses with a strong eco feel, or for a Fair Trade in Tourism or Green Pearls endorsement, which ensures that environmental, economic and social values are being upheld. Get to the core of responsible tourism by eating locally sourced food, in turn supporting resident farmers and creating job opportunities for the community, while getting a real taste of the homegrown cuisine.
An issue making waves is animal rights in tourism. Gone are the days when elephant back riding or petting lion cubs was acceptable, and hard work by global activists as well as documentaries like Blood Lions, has created a newfound awareness with the simple message of ‘hands-off our wildlife’.
The Feel Good Factor
Private islands, off the grid walking trails and remote community-run game lodges are the current sweethearts of sustainable travel. A favourite of mine is Anantara Medjumbe Island Lodge that’s sensitively developed on a thin sliver of white sand that juts out of the turquoise ocean off Northern Mozambique. Their strong eco policies and off the grid success, as well as the opportunity to delve into the protected marine world, speak of paradise found.
The Travel Corporation and its family of brands are on a continued sustainability journey with their TreadRight Foundation and under the guidance of their Ambassador Celine Cousteau, are making waves as they actively seek out projects to support. An endearing example is the Be My Guest experience offered on their Trafalgar Tours that invites you into private homes to learn more about life in the places you visit.
For more active involvement, consider a visit to Kenya’s East Coast where Watamu’s Local Ocean Trust welcomes volunteers to join in rescuing turtles and educating the local fishing communities about ocean conservation.’
*Life by Lexus magazine is an alternate monthly magazine for Lexus lovers in South Africa. Published six times a year it speaks to customers who drive one of these luxury vehicles. It has a brand-positive focus, that provides customers with a chic, cutting edge lifestyle read that celebrates the luxe life: architecture, design, global trends and suggests ways they too can aspire to live that high-end Lexus lifestyle.