New research from Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show has revealed that sustainable travel is now a significant factor for many intrepid travellers.
The study revealed that 63% of people say that sustainable travel is a significant factor in their planning, 70% wish that sustainable holidays would become mainstream, and nearly half (47%) believe there needs to be more education on the subject.
Rob Debenham, Show Director at Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show, says, “It’s brilliant that so many people are aware of the importance of sustainable travel, but there is a huge need for more education as to how we as travellers can have an amazing trip while giving back to local communities or reducing our carbon footprint as much as we can. Let’s make 2023 the year of the rise of conscientious travellers, getting away from the usual tourist traps, choosing brands that prioritise sustainability and recycling and reusing as much as possible.”
But how do you travel more sustainably? Experts from Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show share ten pieces of advice that should point you in the right direction:
Choose tourist experiences that help to conserve the destination’s local heritage, culture and natural environments. For example, the travel company Wild Frontiers began by taking travellers to meet the Kalash, a minority pagan community in the remote parts of northern Pakistan.
Nardia Sullivan, Head of Sustainable Travel at Wild Frontiers, says, “Through community tourism, we have the opportunity to generate real positive impact, supporting people we visit through sustainable local development, and in turn helping to alleviate poverty, protect culture and environments in often more vulnerable destinations. While doing so, our clients gain richer travel experiences and more meaningful connections with the people they meet.”
Use efficient modes of transport like a train or coach as much as you can or hire a hybrid or electric hire car. Dr Susanne Etti, Intrepid’s Global Environmental Impact Manager, says, “Research flight-free ways to get to your destination, like by train. Rail is a great low-carbon option and gives travellers a chance to move slowly and mindfully – and see impressive views passing by outside. Once at your destination, consider public transport to get around. It’s a good way to experience a place like a local, and often a cheaper alternative.”
Educate yourself. Henrik A. Lund, Managing Director of Hurtigruten Foundation, says, “Educate yourself on the numbers that matter to you. Companies should be transparent about their footprint, so if you want to know the impact of your trip: find companies that open their books, especially on the emissions, which is the most important factor for many travellers.
Luckily, that’s increasingly common. Hurtigruten Group, for example, has an extensive ESG report, so the conscious traveller can make the most informed decision possible before booking anything.”
Stay in homestays or use local guides, or travel with companies who do so. Try to spend money with local businesses and make an effort to avoid multi-national companies or big chains.
Lund of the Hurtigruten Foundation says, “Look at local contributions. There are massive gaps between operators in all of the travel industry on the role they play locally. Some take great care to use and promote local providers and vendors, while others are less concerned with leaving values behind.
This is especially true for companies travelling to several destinations. I think travellers who take the time to identify companies with extensive local partnerships and support will find that it’s worth the effort – it makes the experience much more interesting.”
Look into lower carbon transport alternatives. Etti at Intrepid says, “Try to be meaningful about when you choose to take to the skies. Think about taking longer holidays instead of multiple shorter ones to limit flights and fly direct when possible. At Intrepid, we are removing flights under 90 minutes where we can on our top 50 itineraries and looking at alternatives to get from A to B instead.”
Travel off-season to avoid crowds and support tourism all year round. Sullivan at Wild Frontiers says, “Travelling in the off-season is beneficial for everyone. You’ll save money, avoid crowds, and you’ll be supporting communities and provide income to local families year-round.
People might avoid visiting certain destinations in the ‘rainy’ season, but realistically, you might only experience a few hours of rain. It also lessens the pressure on popular tourist sites when visits are more spread out throughout the year.”
Book holidays with travel brands that put sustainability at the top of the agenda. Research workers’ conditions. Lund of the Hurtigruten Foundation says, “There is no doubt that parts of the travel industry have a bad track record on wages, terms, shore leave, and treatment of workers. This is simply not acceptable if our industry is to have a future.
Many numbers on this can be found in ESG reports and such, and if you’re truly dedicated, you can take the time to ask the operator you’re considering before booking. That way, companies are more aware that people are paying attention – and want to avoid those who don’t treat their people properly.”
Etti from Intrepid adds, “Travelling with a tour company, like Intrepid, can help take the guesswork out of responsible and sustainable tourism – but make sure you look for companies that don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk. Have a look at an operator’s climate initiatives, animal welfare policies and responsible business practices. An independent certification, like B Corp, is also a good signal that they’re working to have a positive impact on people and the planet.”
Reduce your own waste. Reduce your use of plastic while at your destination; for example, use a reusable straw and water bottle, refillable toiletries and reef-friendly sunscreen. Etti at Intrepid says, “Tourists are more likely to generate higher amounts of waste and pollution than locals, as they shop more and eat more plastic packaged snacks and takeaways. That’s why it’s so important to try and reduce waste and go plastic-free where you can.
“Bring a reusable water bottle and a reusable tote bag to avoid plastic bags. Consider a reusable coffee cup, straw for drinks, and solid soap and conditioner bars, so you don’t have to leave empty bottles behind. At the airport, think about reusing the small plastic bag needed for carry-on liquids instead of chucking it out after a holiday.”
Consider going off the tourist trail. Etti from Intrepid says, “Visiting alternative destinations off the tourist trail can help to benefit locals. They don’t have to be far-flung destinations but a different side of a familiar destination closer to home that gives you a real sense of life and culture. That could be places like the White Mountains of Crete or the Schist villages in Portugal. It’s a great way to combat over-tourism and limit the impact of mass tourism on a destination’s people and environment.”
Pull on your walking boots for lower-impact travel. Sullivan at Wild Frontiers says, “A walking holiday offers the chance to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the world’s hidden wild frontiers and meet people you may not otherwise meet. Experiencing a country on foot is good for you and perhaps the greenest way to travel. Fresh air, exercise, all while discovering a new place and being planet-friendly.”
Where and how?
Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show is the UK’s longest-running travel show and will return to Olympia London from 2nd to 5th February. Hundreds of travel operators will be on hand to offer ideas for your next trip, and you can explore new destinations, find out different ways to travel and be inspired to discover new experiences.
For ticket information, visit www.destinationsshow.com.
Read more travel guides and news here.
You must be logged in to post a comment.