Sustainability in Tourism
Author Inspiring Journeys
Date 22 Dec 2022
Countries Australia, New Zealand
SUSTAINABILITY IN TOURISM
JUST a few short years ago those supporting sustainable tourism were engaging in a few simple steps.
Eco-friendly activities were limited to hanging towels after use so laundry didn’t need to be done daily during a hotel stay, purchasing carbon credits to offset long-haul flights, recycling takeaway meal containers, and packing a personal drink bottle to reduce the need to buy single-use plastic.
But the recent temporary halt to travel allowed the spotlight to shift squarely onto sustainability making it this year’s big travel trend.
The Sustainable Travel Report 2022 revealed 71 per cent of travellers were now looking to make more responsible choices when heading away for both business and leisure during the next 12 months, up 10 per cent on 2021’s data.
The break in travel allowed holidaymakers to reassess their sustainability standards and gave travel providers – from hotels and hire-car brands to tourist attractions and companies offering guided travel – the space to step up measures and actively address guest expectations.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY IN TOURISM?
While the rules of responsible travel will continue to be rewritten, as the urgency to protect the planet is elevated, we know what it looks like in 2022 and have a good idea of what we can expect for the following 12 months.
Employing the definition set by the UN Environment Program and UN World Tourism Organization it’s “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”.
It doesn’t refer to a specific type of travel, but is an ambition for all the influences of tourism to be viable “for generations to come”.
SUSTAINABLE TOURISM TRENDS 2022
It’s about walking softly across the landscape, leaving only footsteps and taking only memories, spending on activities offered by grassroots groups to filter funds through a destination’s wider community, avoiding popular places and peak travel times, and exploring closer to home.
It’s turning the heating or air-conditioning off before leaving a hotel room, catching a train rather than driving or flying, shopping at locally-owned stores, and finding eateries that champion locally-grown produce to reduce a meal’s paddock-to-plate journey.
“As the climate crisis deepens and global awareness increases, people are carving out new experiences and travelling more thoughtfully,” the Sustainable Travel Report 2022 observed.
“It highlights the increasing desire to make more conscious choices across the entire travel experience, from transportation to accommodation, as well as how and where people spend their money during their trips.
“More people are seeking authentic cultural experiences that bolster and add value back into local communities, while actively avoiding over-visited destinations and travelling outside peak season to avoid overcrowding.”
HOW WE MAKE TRAVEL MATTER®
While sustainable tourism has stepped up since this century’s second decade, it’s nothing new to the Inspiring Journeys team and we’ve been walking the walk for some time now.
Our parent company The Travel Corporation – a family business helping those with a spirit for adventure cross aspirational addresses from their sightseeing to-do lists for more than a century – has long been dedicated to nurturing sustainable wandering.
It’s about fostering experiences that positively impact the people and communities we visit and caring for the environment, both flora and fauna, to guarantee every location we touch remains perfect and in pristine condition for the generations to follow in our footsteps.
As a pioneering step towards sustainability The Travel Corporation established the TreadRight Foundation a decade ago and tasked the not-for-profit arm of the business with planning, implementing, and promoting practices across the three fundamental pillars of people, planet and wildlife.
The next step came in 2020 when the Foundation launched How We Tread Right, a five-year strategy designed with measurable targets aligned with 11 of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals which “address both the environmental footprint and the community impact of our business and operations”.
The strategy’s guiding goals cover the areas of climate, food, waste, experiences, diversity, and wildlife to include everything from net-zero plans and the reduction of plastics to crafting itineraries that visit developing countries and incorporate opportunities to see the impact of the work we support firsthand.
As part of the pledge, we aim to ensure that 50 per cent of our trips include at least one MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience by 2025. To do that, we are backing projects in our destinations around Australia and New Zealand that align with these goals.
OUR SUSTAINABLE TOURISM PRACTICES
At Inspiring Journeys, our MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences focus upon spending time with the curators and creators that sit at the heart of the destinations we stop to appreciate.
While embarked upon Kakadu’s Ancient Secrets – a journey that takes in Kakadu, Litchfield and Nitmiluk national parks on a five-day loop from Darwin – we spend a morning in Katherine with Manuel Pamkal who is a Dalabon man that proudly shows off the ways of his tribe through storytelling and the fine art of rarrk painting.
Travellers taking in the might and majesty of New Zealand will often sample sustainable travel during The Southern Drift, which is a 12-day itinerary that completes an anticlockwise lap of the South Island’s lower latitudes from Christchurch.
While wandering Milford Sound/Piopiotahi we learn about this magical destination from specialist nature guides, embark on a behind-the-scenes tour of Emerson’s craft brewery during a day in Dunedin, and cross the island aboard the famed TranzAlpine train which is a responsible way to transit the pristine Canterbury Plains.
SUSTAINABLE TOURISM MEANS MORE THAN IMMERSION
Sustainability is about more than adding engaging experiences to our itineraries, it’s about incorporating thoughtful extras that are easy on the planet.
Every traveller embarking on an Inspiring Journeys adventure receives a reusable drink bottle and we supply chilled filtered water on our coaches to eliminate purchasing plastic bottles.
Our vehicles use Bio Diesel to reduce emissions, with stats showing coach travel produces 87 per cent less harmful gasses than the same number of passengers moving around by car, and we’ve encouraged paperless travel since 2017 by supplying all guests with e-documents before setting out.
Our brochures are printed on 100 per cent recycled paper, saving more than 37,000 trees from being felled every year, and Inspiring Journeys steadfastly offers only ethical wildlife experiences as guided by TreadRight’s strict Animal Welfare Policy.
THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING
Now, almost two years since How We Tread Right was launched, our first impact report has been released to illustrate the progress made towards sustainable tourism by The Travel Corporation’s family of 41 brands.
And headway is being made, with The Travel Corporation’s Chairman Brett Tollman observing the company’s staff has been exhibiting an “extraordinary” commitment to achieving the goal through an implementation approach.
When it comes to “planet” the organisation has already initiated three new TreadRight partnerships, developed net-zero targets aligned with the Science-Based Targets Initiative, and reduced the number of printed brochures by 88 per cent since 2019.
The “people” pillar is being nurtured by adding 554 MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences to The Travel Corporation’s itineraries, with these insightful educational experiences designed to positively impact and support those in the communities our travellers visit.
And, to assist the “wildlife” pledge, each business under The Travel Corporation umbrella has analysed the more than 400 animal encounters on offer across the family to ensure 100 per cent compliance with the company’s Animal Welfare Policy.
AND NOW, ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
Chairman Brett Tollman said that not only did the release of the first Impact report in May let the company celebrate what it was doing well, while focusing on the goals that still needed attention, it also helped support the industry on the way forward.
“In sharing our blueprint to do better we hope to engage our industry to join the fight against these critical planetary challenges,” he said.
“As it’s only in working together with clear intent that we can truly make travel a force for good and safeguard our planet for future travellers.”