Sustainability is important in all aspects of our lives. People are making more conscious choices that will have a better impact on our communities and the environment. We are realizing that there is only one planet earth and we need to take proper care of it. Many people have made sustainable changes in their daily lives, but have you thought about how you can make your traveling experience more sustainable?
So what exactly is it?
The World Tourism Organization defines the term 'sustainable travel' as "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 goes far beyond refusing plastic straws and bringing a canvas tote to the grocery store, it is striving to leave the areas and communities you visit better off than when you arrived.
The Three Pillars of Sustainability (via Landlopers)
Environmental Sustainability: The environment is obviously important to tourism. Both the natural environment (such as beaches, forests, waterways) and the built environment (such as historic buildings and ruins) must be preserved for an area to be environmentally sustainable. Environmental sustainability means making sure resources in an area (whatever they may be) can be preserved for use by future generations. It’s much more than just being “green.”
Socio-cultural Sustainability: When an area starts being visited by tourists, there are bound to be some social and cultural impacts of those tourists on the host community. Locals may see increased congestion and overcrowding in towns and cities, perhaps an increase in crime, the introduction of new languages and values, and perhaps even an influx of migrant workers to be employed in the tourist industry. Socio-cultural sustainability, then, means minimizing these negative impacts and focusing on more positive ones, such as promoting cultural exchange and preserving local traditions. This can usually be achieved by getting the locals involved in the tourism industry. Having the community involved will not only offer visitors a more genuine experience, but the locals will be more likely to see tourism in a positive light because they will be proud of it.
Economic Sustainability: The last pillar of sustainability revolves around perhaps the most important part – the money. Many people don’t take into account economics when thinking about sustainability, but it’s really the key to making a tourism venture sustainable. Economic sustainability means building linkages and reducing leakages – essentially, keeping the money local. A hotel or company owned and operated by a foreigner is not likely to contribute much to the local economy – the money will likely leak overseas instead. This is not sustainable. Not only should the community be involved in tourism, but they should also all share in the financial benefits gleaned from it.
Ensemble's Sustainability Efforts
As a proud member of Ensemble, we support the recent sustainability initiatives being taken on by the travel consortia. David Harris, Ensemble CEO, announced at the annual travel conference in October 2019 that Ensemble has partnered with nonprofit Cool Effect. This "enables Ensemble members to offset their clients’ flights quickly and easily using its Offset Tool" (afar.com).
We are looking forward this partnership, as well as eagerly awaiting even more sustainable travel initiatives.
Things You Can Do to Become a More Sustainable Traveler
Brentwood Travel Vacation Experts
In the 63 years since Brentwood Travel was founded in 1957, we've grown into the largest, full-service travel agency in the Greater St. Louis area. No matter what your travel needs may be, our consultants will be able to assist you.