On the path to sustainable tourism
As destinations around the world prepare to welcome back travellers, it is essential to strike the right balance between reviving the industry and not overwhelming local infrastructure and communities.
“At CWT Vacations we are continually mindful of the impact tourism can have on a region. Undoubtedly, this is mainly positive, but of course there are exceptions and we have all heard about them. We are fortunate in that the Canadian traveller on the whole has mindfulness written into their DNA, and this very much goes for our travel advisors too,” Fiona Barclay, Director, Supplier Management, North America Leisure at CWT Vacations tells Travel Courier. “The key to avoiding over tourism is balance. We turn tourists into travellers encouraging them to interact with their destinations and to engage in the local culture. Getting off the beaten track shares knowledge and wealth and encourages understanding and sensitivity from the traveller.”
An important benefit of tourism is that it puts a stream of new money into a destination, which directly benefits and impacts the communities on the ground.
On the road to more responsible tourism, Barclay says CWT advisors encourage passengers to think more carefully about how they travel and why they make the choices they make “such as the benefits of slower travel, or recognizing that the journey can be as much a part of the holiday experience as the destination – and when making choices to consider the environmental and personal wellness impact of their travel decisions.”
Another sustainable suggestion is to outline options for train or cruise journeys as a way to experience multiple locations without jumping on a plane.
“Or if a flight is the best option for your client, then why not suggest they tack on a break to the end of a business trip?” she suggests. “Add a few days of downtime, get out of the city and explore a little around the city they find themselves in. In this way they save a flight, impact the local economy and see so much more of the world.”
As a company, CWT Vacations has also taken some steps to foster responsible and sustainable travel initiatives.
“CWT Vacations has previously partnered with Trees4Travel, a carbon reduction company with a transparent approach to showing agents the carbon impact of every element of a client’s trip through an easy to use and understand online platform,” she says. “It then converts the carbon footprint into indigenous trees to be planted in verified tree planting projects for rewilding right here in Canada — and around the world — working with forest communities to make ethical income choices that protect their forest homes; and helping to roll out renewable energy to developing nations.”
Travellers also get their own dashboard to monitor their trees’ performances.
“It is a simple and tangible way for us to help all our passengers offset their carbon and to move travel toward a climate positive future,” she adds.
Even though travel and tourism took a hard hit during the pandemic, she says the time out allowed many in the industry to take a step back and think about coming back better.
“This time may have been extremely tough, but we believe that it has created an opportunity to improve the way we explore our world,” she says.
For more on sustainable tourism, don’t miss last week’s story “Agents on restarting tourism responsibly” here.