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Refuge du Gouter: Sustainable way to the top
Only a small number of us will ever be able to experience it: the last stop before the final climb to the top of the Mont Blanc. This stop on the main route was notorious for its lousy accommodation: a bland, uncomfortable building built in the sixties, that was not only painfully outdated but also an environmental hazard. Those visiting for an overnight stay would do well to prepare themselves for recurring problems with hygiene - the two outside toilets are not only inconvenient, they also heavily pollute the surrounding area through its direct emptying of waste on the mountainside - and freezing nightly temperatures, even inside.   Not exactly a great preparation for one of the biggest climbs in some climbers’ lives, yet it certainly adds a certain something to the charm and roughness associated with mountaineering. Right? Well, that logic might have been sound until recently, when it was high time to upgrade the lodging. A new, sustainable mountain hut This was done in the form of the Refuge du Goûter, a new and ecological hut. The remarkable structure, resembling some kind of futuristic egg, has four stories and an all-wooden structure that has been clad using stainless steel. It partly overhangs the cliff below, guaranteeing breathtaking views and enhancing its ‘curb appeal’. And appeal it certainly has. Not only from an architectural point of view (the Swiss designer Hervé Dessimoz spent five years merely designing the building), but also from an ecological point of view. The building is self-sufficient in its demand for energy and water, boasting a solar thermal system and self-sufficient water supply.   Plenty of ecological features This sophisticated system for water reclamation provides a supply of water for cooking and washing. It makes good use of the egg shape of the building: because of the wind, constant turbulence lets the snow slide across its outer skin, after which it accumulates in a grid of some 60 square meters. Within this grid, heat generated by solar panels melts this snow, after which it is collected in huge tanks. Due to the size of these tanks, the building can operate for 16 days without snow.   These solar panels also generate heat and electricity for the building, providing in nearly all of its heating and power needs - only the kitchen still makes use of gas. When there is no sunlight, a backup generator that runs on rapeseed oil will produce electricity.   Sewage farm and isolation Another huge plus: human waste will no longer be dumped on the mountainside. Instead, the six environmentally friendly toilets within the hut are built to be ecological and clean. The amount of water that they use is minimised through the implementation of a vacuum-suction system that most of us will know from aircrafts. Upon flushing, the human waste will be collected in a tiny sewage farm that processes it into some kind of highly compacted sludge that can, if required, be heliported down to the valley and be disposed properly. No longer will eager mountaineers have to suffer from the cold: the new location is equipped with triple glazing and dual-flow ventilation, as well as insulation provided by wood-fibre panels. All of this ensures an indoor temperature that ranges between 18 degrees Celsius and 22 degrees Celsius.   Construction in pieces The entire structure was put together in pieces: pre-assembled parts were taken in by helicopter and mounted securely using a specific resin adhesive. This drastically reduced the number of nuts and bolts that would be required. It took three years to complete construction, with work only possible in the warmer months of the years - and frequently interrupted by severe weather events.   Despite the difficulties, the project supervisor Thomas Büchi and architect Dessimoz never wavered in their dedication to the project: “ What we're saying is that, if it's possible to build a self-sufficient, eco-friendly building at 3,835 metres, there's no excuse for not doing it at sea level .” And right they are! The need for an ecologically sustainable building at this altitude and in this spot might have been doubted by some, yet it only seems to highlight the possibilities and the ease with which it can be executed, if only those in charge are dedicated to doing ‘the right thing’.   Countering the effects of global warming Even in this small Mont Blanc community, the effects of global warming and other strains that have been put on the natural  environment are starting to show. The number of serious accidents amongst climbers on the Mont Blanc has increased significantly in recent years, most of which resulting from falling rocks. In the past, snow and ice would keep them in place, yet due to warmer temperatures, they are loose and subject to sliding at any time. Last summer alone, more than 1,000 climbers experienced falling rocks on their ascent. With the ever-increasing number of people gearing up to conquer Europe’s highest mountain, it only seems to underline the importance of providing ecological and sustainable accommodation and facilities: to preserve this miracle of Mother Nature for many generations to come. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/architecture
Only a small number of us will ever be able to experience it: the last stop before the final climb to the top of the Mont Blanc. This stop on the main route was notorious for its lousy accommodation: a bland, uncomfortable building built in the sixties, that was not only painfully outdated but also an environmental hazard. Those visiting for an overnight stay would do well to prepare themselves for recurring problems with hygiene - the two outside toilets are not only inconvenient, they also heavily pollute the surrounding area through its direct emptying of waste on the mountainside - and freezing nightly temperatures, even inside.   Not exactly a great preparation for one of the biggest climbs in some climbers’ lives, yet it certainly adds a certain something to the charm and roughness associated with mountaineering. Right? Well, that logic might have been sound until recently, when it was high time to upgrade the lodging. A new, sustainable mountain hut This was done in the form of the Refuge du Goûter, a new and ecological hut. The remarkable structure, resembling some kind of futuristic egg, has four stories and an all-wooden structure that has been clad using stainless steel. It partly overhangs the cliff below, guaranteeing breathtaking views and enhancing its ‘curb appeal’. And appeal it certainly has. Not only from an architectural point of view (the Swiss designer Hervé Dessimoz spent five years merely designing the building), but also from an ecological point of view. The building is self-sufficient in its demand for energy and water, boasting a solar thermal system and self-sufficient water supply.   Plenty of ecological features This sophisticated system for water reclamation provides a supply of water for cooking and washing. It makes good use of the egg shape of the building: because of the wind, constant turbulence lets the snow slide across its outer skin, after which it accumulates in a grid of some 60 square meters. Within this grid, heat generated by solar panels melts this snow, after which it is collected in huge tanks. Due to the size of these tanks, the building can operate for 16 days without snow.   These solar panels also generate heat and electricity for the building, providing in nearly all of its heating and power needs - only the kitchen still makes use of gas. When there is no sunlight, a backup generator that runs on rapeseed oil will produce electricity.   Sewage farm and isolation Another huge plus: human waste will no longer be dumped on the mountainside. Instead, the six environmentally friendly toilets within the hut are built to be ecological and clean. The amount of water that they use is minimised through the implementation of a vacuum-suction system that most of us will know from aircrafts. Upon flushing, the human waste will be collected in a tiny sewage farm that processes it into some kind of highly compacted sludge that can, if required, be heliported down to the valley and be disposed properly. No longer will eager mountaineers have to suffer from the cold: the new location is equipped with triple glazing and dual-flow ventilation, as well as insulation provided by wood-fibre panels. All of this ensures an indoor temperature that ranges between 18 degrees Celsius and 22 degrees Celsius.   Construction in pieces The entire structure was put together in pieces: pre-assembled parts were taken in by helicopter and mounted securely using a specific resin adhesive. This drastically reduced the number of nuts and bolts that would be required. It took three years to complete construction, with work only possible in the warmer months of the years - and frequently interrupted by severe weather events.   Despite the difficulties, the project supervisor Thomas Büchi and architect Dessimoz never wavered in their dedication to the project: “ What we're saying is that, if it's possible to build a self-sufficient, eco-friendly building at 3,835 metres, there's no excuse for not doing it at sea level .” And right they are! The need for an ecologically sustainable building at this altitude and in this spot might have been doubted by some, yet it only seems to highlight the possibilities and the ease with which it can be executed, if only those in charge are dedicated to doing ‘the right thing’.   Countering the effects of global warming Even in this small Mont Blanc community, the effects of global warming and other strains that have been put on the natural  environment are starting to show. The number of serious accidents amongst climbers on the Mont Blanc has increased significantly in recent years, most of which resulting from falling rocks. In the past, snow and ice would keep them in place, yet due to warmer temperatures, they are loose and subject to sliding at any time. Last summer alone, more than 1,000 climbers experienced falling rocks on their ascent. With the ever-increasing number of people gearing up to conquer Europe’s highest mountain, it only seems to underline the importance of providing ecological and sustainable accommodation and facilities: to preserve this miracle of Mother Nature for many generations to come. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/architecture
Refuge du Gouter: Sustainable way to the top
Refuge du Gouter: Sustainable way to the top
MEET THE ECO-FRIENDLY TINY HOUSE BOAT
It is the perfect holiday or retirement plan for many. Waking up to the soothing feeling of waves gently rocking you, brushing your teeth to the sound of seabirds, and having your morning coffee whilst overlooking wide open bodies of water. Spending your days cruising the sea and throwing out your fishing rod. An idyllic fantasy, that all too often remains just that - a fantasy. The costs are too high, and not only the monetary costs. Boats have a huge impact on the environment, and the footprint that they leave is significant. That is, up until now. A trend is emerging in the boating industry where sustainability and green living take center stage. Instead of focusing on luxurious and high-tech solutions, manufacturers start looking at the use of renewables and recyclables. This has led to the launch of a number of particularly interesting products; the tiny house boat. Let’s zoom in on one of those innovations. TINY HOUSE BOAT Earlier this year, Canadian company The Daigno Group released their unique house boat concept ‘Le Koroc’. Prized as an ‘innovative, bold and refined concept’, it seeks to combine boat living with fishing excursions while providing a portable micro chalet or tiny house. The end-result is a small, yet comfortable boat with a decently sized deck and a living cabin, including a small kitchenette area and a bathroom with shower and toilet. It was built by a team of experienced fishermen, nature lovers and wood connoisseurs. This is clearly reflected in all aspects of the boat, with plenty of space for fishing amenities and add-ons, usage of high-quality and eco-friendly wood, and its sustainable production and consumption process. Or so its press release claims. SUSTAINABLE AND RECYCLABLE ‘Le Koroc’ is a good example of the boating industry moving towards greener and ecologically friendlier ways of doing business. Materials used are obtained from sustainable resources. The boat’s light weight - about 2,500 kg - ensures that its energy consumption is limited, both on water and on the road. Transporting the vehicle will therefore not use up valuable energy sources. Besides those two main ‘headlines’, there are more examples of nifty ways through which this sustainable tiny houseboat minimises its ecological footprint. For example, the water used in the shower and in the sinks first gets treated by a dedicated charcoal filtering system before being discharged. Photovoltaic panels on the boat serve to capture solar energy. The energy is stored in two batteries, one of which is used for the fridge and the other to power the LED-lighting on board. LED-lighting that, by the way, ensures lower and safer power consumption. The stove in the kitchenette is fuelled with propane, while customers could opt for a bio-controlled litter toilet. Although these are only some of the ways through which The Daigno Group has chosen for sustainability over profitability, it is clearly indicative of a shift towards eco-friendlier boats. WHY WOULD YOU? For those lucky few that can afford to buy a yacht and use it to cruise the world, sustainability has never been much of a focus point. Eco-friendly boats such as ‘Le Koroc’ are clearly trying to change this in several ways. First of all, due to its small size and simplicity, this generation of boats is very affordable, making that retirement dream mentioned in the beginning of this blog a reality. Secondly, and more importantly, it highlights the importance of finding greener vacation and/or living accommodations. Through its use of sustainable materials, reduced energy consumption, and waste-minimising solutions a whole another target group is reached. Would you still rather dream of that luxurious yacht? This is as good a time as any to remind you once again that luxury and sustainability are not necessarily a trade-off. Just look at ‘Le Koroc’, a handcrafted, personalised, complete and light tiny home-on-the-water. Perhaps you could have both.
It is the perfect holiday or retirement plan for many. Waking up to the soothing feeling of waves gently rocking you, brushing your teeth to the sound of seabirds, and having your morning coffee whilst overlooking wide open bodies of water. Spending your days cruising the sea and throwing out your fishing rod. An idyllic fantasy, that all too often remains just that - a fantasy. The costs are too high, and not only the monetary costs. Boats have a huge impact on the environment, and the footprint that they leave is significant. That is, up until now. A trend is emerging in the boating industry where sustainability and green living take center stage. Instead of focusing on luxurious and high-tech solutions, manufacturers start looking at the use of renewables and recyclables. This has led to the launch of a number of particularly interesting products; the tiny house boat. Let’s zoom in on one of those innovations. TINY HOUSE BOAT Earlier this year, Canadian company The Daigno Group released their unique house boat concept ‘Le Koroc’. Prized as an ‘innovative, bold and refined concept’, it seeks to combine boat living with fishing excursions while providing a portable micro chalet or tiny house. The end-result is a small, yet comfortable boat with a decently sized deck and a living cabin, including a small kitchenette area and a bathroom with shower and toilet. It was built by a team of experienced fishermen, nature lovers and wood connoisseurs. This is clearly reflected in all aspects of the boat, with plenty of space for fishing amenities and add-ons, usage of high-quality and eco-friendly wood, and its sustainable production and consumption process. Or so its press release claims. SUSTAINABLE AND RECYCLABLE ‘Le Koroc’ is a good example of the boating industry moving towards greener and ecologically friendlier ways of doing business. Materials used are obtained from sustainable resources. The boat’s light weight - about 2,500 kg - ensures that its energy consumption is limited, both on water and on the road. Transporting the vehicle will therefore not use up valuable energy sources. Besides those two main ‘headlines’, there are more examples of nifty ways through which this sustainable tiny houseboat minimises its ecological footprint. For example, the water used in the shower and in the sinks first gets treated by a dedicated charcoal filtering system before being discharged. Photovoltaic panels on the boat serve to capture solar energy. The energy is stored in two batteries, one of which is used for the fridge and the other to power the LED-lighting on board. LED-lighting that, by the way, ensures lower and safer power consumption. The stove in the kitchenette is fuelled with propane, while customers could opt for a bio-controlled litter toilet. Although these are only some of the ways through which The Daigno Group has chosen for sustainability over profitability, it is clearly indicative of a shift towards eco-friendlier boats. WHY WOULD YOU? For those lucky few that can afford to buy a yacht and use it to cruise the world, sustainability has never been much of a focus point. Eco-friendly boats such as ‘Le Koroc’ are clearly trying to change this in several ways. First of all, due to its small size and simplicity, this generation of boats is very affordable, making that retirement dream mentioned in the beginning of this blog a reality. Secondly, and more importantly, it highlights the importance of finding greener vacation and/or living accommodations. Through its use of sustainable materials, reduced energy consumption, and waste-minimising solutions a whole another target group is reached. Would you still rather dream of that luxurious yacht? This is as good a time as any to remind you once again that luxury and sustainability are not necessarily a trade-off. Just look at ‘Le Koroc’, a handcrafted, personalised, complete and light tiny home-on-the-water. Perhaps you could have both.
MEET THE ECO-FRIENDLY TINY HOUSE BOAT
MEET THE ECO-FRIENDLY TINY HOUSE BOAT
Travel #sustainable! 10 Easy tips to go green on holliday
#Sustainable travel. Easy tips to make the world a little better. Since my visit to Sumatra I really realize what an impact we as people have on nature and the world around us, especially when traveling. In this section I discuss an aspect of sustainable travel every month and I highlight green and inspiring initiatives in the field of tourism. This time: 10 easy tips to go green on a trip. The first steps to a sustainable travel style A green lifestyle is often seen as difficult and expensive. Organic products cost more money than regular foods, and waste-free life requires a certain dedication. But does that also apply to green travel? Yes, it costs money to compensate your air travel and it is always a search for a hotel run by locals. Yet it does not have to be difficult to adopt a sustainable travel style, and you can even make the world a little better with a small budget. With the summer season approaching, I have put 10 easy tips for a greener travel style at a glance. They cost little money and little effort, but are a good step towards a green travel style and a better world. 1. Pull all plugs out of their sockets at home when leaving Thinking green can be so simple ... Your house is full of electrical appliances that use power and energy during your absence. That is not only bad for the environment, but also for your wallet. Check this just before departure and pull out as many plugs as possible. In any case, of all devices that have a light on or the digital time is displayed, such as your television, alarm clock and the oven. 2. Use a digital boarding pass By making optimal use of modern techniques you can save a lot of paper. For example, use a digital boarding pass or download the app from your airline company. You can also easily manage hotel reservations via your phone, for example with the Wallet for iPhone app. No more hassle with printers and packs of paper, but everything at hand via your smartphone. Check the conditions of your airline. There are of course also comparable apps for Android phones. 3. Eat vegetarian in the airplane Meat is bad for the planet, and ideally we are all vegetarian. I do not see that happening that fast, but decreasing is already a step in the right direction. Choose, for example, to only eat really tasty meat, for example in a good restaurant or from an organic butcher. One of the places where you can certainly leave your meat is on the plane. These meals are not exactly gourmet delights, so a good reason to choose a meatless meal here. Please indicate your preference for a meal during the booking process. An additional advantage: you get your food first. 4. Use as less plastic as possible Limit the use of plastic. Particularly in the poorer countries plastic often ends up in nature or is burned along the roadside. It is certainly not good for nature at all, so try to contribute as little as possible as a tourist. Below I have put a few useful tips on a list. - Take a shopping bag with you - Use a LifestrawGo or other water bottle - Use your own earplugs on the plane - Take a blanket for yourself on the plane 5. Leave soap, pens and note blocks where they are; in your ‘hotel room’ If you sleep in a luxury hotel, you can collect quite a few goodies. Care products, but also slippers, pens and note blocks: leave it as much as possible in the packaging and in the hotel, because it costs a lot of raw materials to make and transport everything. Have you used anything from the care products? Take the bottles home at the end of your stay, because half-empty bottles are often thrown away. 6. Don’t take every day a clean towel Try to do a little longer with your towel in the hotel, because you can quickly fill a washing machine with the towels from one hotel room. In some hotels the reuse of a towel is happily encouraged and you even get a nice counterpart. For example, at the Qbic Hotel in London, I received a £ 5 voucher every day if my room was not cleaned that day. Another tip for the hotel: go in the shower instead of in the bath. And do not use the laundry at a large hotel, because often every garment is washed separately. It is also often cheaper to hand over your laundry at a local launderette. 7. Rent a bicycle instead of a scooter A scooter gives you the ultimate freedom on vacation, because you can drive to remote villages and beaches on your own. But a scooter is also pretty polluting and the noise can deter and drive away wild animals. Therefore, change the scooter for a bike and explore the area on your own. Is your holiday destination hilly and do you have to cover long distances? Then consider an e-bike or an electric scooter. 8. Take some litter with you Are you going for a walk in a nature reserve? Kayaking? Snorkeling? Take the litter that is in nature and throw it away in the right way. Collect plastic bottles that people have carelessly thrown into the sea or a piece of the beach. You do not have to pick up the whole afternoon, but to pick up some is a small effort. 9. Be critical on the souvenirs you buy Do not buy souvenirs made of tropical hardwood, coral, shells or animals. For example, in Vietnam you can buy bottles of whiskey with a scorpion, snake or other animal in the bottle. So look critically at the souvenirs you want to take home. 10. Return leaflets, maps and brochures back When traveling, you regularly get a map or brochure printed in your hands. Imagine how many boxes of paper every day have to be towed to provide all tourists with information that is also just on the internet. Therefore, say as much as possible no to all the paperwork you receive, or return it at the end of your visit. Even better: download the museum's app or make sure you have the website open on your phone. Setting yourself a sustainable lifestyle is done in small steps and all the bits help. By: expeditieaardbol.nl
#Sustainable travel. Easy tips to make the world a little better. Since my visit to Sumatra I really realize what an impact we as people have on nature and the world around us, especially when traveling. In this section I discuss an aspect of sustainable travel every month and I highlight green and inspiring initiatives in the field of tourism. This time: 10 easy tips to go green on a trip. The first steps to a sustainable travel style A green lifestyle is often seen as difficult and expensive. Organic products cost more money than regular foods, and waste-free life requires a certain dedication. But does that also apply to green travel? Yes, it costs money to compensate your air travel and it is always a search for a hotel run by locals. Yet it does not have to be difficult to adopt a sustainable travel style, and you can even make the world a little better with a small budget. With the summer season approaching, I have put 10 easy tips for a greener travel style at a glance. They cost little money and little effort, but are a good step towards a green travel style and a better world. 1. Pull all plugs out of their sockets at home when leaving Thinking green can be so simple ... Your house is full of electrical appliances that use power and energy during your absence. That is not only bad for the environment, but also for your wallet. Check this just before departure and pull out as many plugs as possible. In any case, of all devices that have a light on or the digital time is displayed, such as your television, alarm clock and the oven. 2. Use a digital boarding pass By making optimal use of modern techniques you can save a lot of paper. For example, use a digital boarding pass or download the app from your airline company. You can also easily manage hotel reservations via your phone, for example with the Wallet for iPhone app. No more hassle with printers and packs of paper, but everything at hand via your smartphone. Check the conditions of your airline. There are of course also comparable apps for Android phones. 3. Eat vegetarian in the airplane Meat is bad for the planet, and ideally we are all vegetarian. I do not see that happening that fast, but decreasing is already a step in the right direction. Choose, for example, to only eat really tasty meat, for example in a good restaurant or from an organic butcher. One of the places where you can certainly leave your meat is on the plane. These meals are not exactly gourmet delights, so a good reason to choose a meatless meal here. Please indicate your preference for a meal during the booking process. An additional advantage: you get your food first. 4. Use as less plastic as possible Limit the use of plastic. Particularly in the poorer countries plastic often ends up in nature or is burned along the roadside. It is certainly not good for nature at all, so try to contribute as little as possible as a tourist. Below I have put a few useful tips on a list. - Take a shopping bag with you - Use a LifestrawGo or other water bottle - Use your own earplugs on the plane - Take a blanket for yourself on the plane 5. Leave soap, pens and note blocks where they are; in your ‘hotel room’ If you sleep in a luxury hotel, you can collect quite a few goodies. Care products, but also slippers, pens and note blocks: leave it as much as possible in the packaging and in the hotel, because it costs a lot of raw materials to make and transport everything. Have you used anything from the care products? Take the bottles home at the end of your stay, because half-empty bottles are often thrown away. 6. Don’t take every day a clean towel Try to do a little longer with your towel in the hotel, because you can quickly fill a washing machine with the towels from one hotel room. In some hotels the reuse of a towel is happily encouraged and you even get a nice counterpart. For example, at the Qbic Hotel in London, I received a £ 5 voucher every day if my room was not cleaned that day. Another tip for the hotel: go in the shower instead of in the bath. And do not use the laundry at a large hotel, because often every garment is washed separately. It is also often cheaper to hand over your laundry at a local launderette. 7. Rent a bicycle instead of a scooter A scooter gives you the ultimate freedom on vacation, because you can drive to remote villages and beaches on your own. But a scooter is also pretty polluting and the noise can deter and drive away wild animals. Therefore, change the scooter for a bike and explore the area on your own. Is your holiday destination hilly and do you have to cover long distances? Then consider an e-bike or an electric scooter. 8. Take some litter with you Are you going for a walk in a nature reserve? Kayaking? Snorkeling? Take the litter that is in nature and throw it away in the right way. Collect plastic bottles that people have carelessly thrown into the sea or a piece of the beach. You do not have to pick up the whole afternoon, but to pick up some is a small effort. 9. Be critical on the souvenirs you buy Do not buy souvenirs made of tropical hardwood, coral, shells or animals. For example, in Vietnam you can buy bottles of whiskey with a scorpion, snake or other animal in the bottle. So look critically at the souvenirs you want to take home. 10. Return leaflets, maps and brochures back When traveling, you regularly get a map or brochure printed in your hands. Imagine how many boxes of paper every day have to be towed to provide all tourists with information that is also just on the internet. Therefore, say as much as possible no to all the paperwork you receive, or return it at the end of your visit. Even better: download the museum's app or make sure you have the website open on your phone. Setting yourself a sustainable lifestyle is done in small steps and all the bits help. By: expeditieaardbol.nl
Travel #sustainable! 10 Easy tips to go green on holliday
Travel #sustainable! 10 Easy tips to go green on holliday
The time for sustainability in travel has arrived
Brett Tollman is the global CEO of The Travel Corp. and founder of the TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit established to encourage sustainable tourism. He also served as vice-chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). In the year the United Nations has designated as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, we need to ensure World Tourism Day, being marked on Wednesday, is given the attention it requires at such a critical juncture for the international travel sector. I firmly believe that we – the world's travel industry and travellers alike – must follow the example set by the Paris climate accord, which brings together myriad competing entities in the shared goal of sustainability.   A conference earlier this month hosted by Canada's Environment Minister Catherine McKenna brought together 34 countries in a bid to maintain momentum to implement the Paris accord as the United States acknowledged it will not attempt to renegotiate it. In much the same way, we must use the collective momentum provided by the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development to use our sector's distinct influence and capabilities to help shape a more sustainable future for our planet. Otherwise, we will have to watch everything we value and cherish erode and disappear.   At the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in 2015, 154 heads of state or governments adopted the bold and ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which included 17 Sustainable Development Goals that aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Based on this universal, integrated, and transformative vision, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is working with governments, public and private partners, development banks, international and regional finance institutions, UN agencies and international organizations to help achieve these goals. However, if the goals of the 2030 agenda are to be reached, the travel industry and travellers alike must make a deliberate effort to ensure their realization. Canada has stepped into a leading role regarding the Paris accord, and Canadian-based companies and those operating within Canada have an opportunity to play a major role in this charge. When one considers that the Canadian travel sector contributes as much as 8 per cent to Canada's GDP – more than transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, forest products and mining, according to the most recent statistics available – it becomes even more apparent that Canadian travel and tourism businesses can influence this charge. The travel sector's international influence is much the same. As one of the world's largest sectors, supporting 284 million jobs and generating 9.8 per cent of global GDP, we can help to increase public appreciation of the environment and awareness of the value of connecting with the natural world and other cultures and communities in a sustainable way. Tourism can also contribute to environmental protection, conservation and restoration of biological diversity and sustainable use of natural resources. The beauty of the natural world is a vitally important asset for our sector; maintaining the vibrancy of natural sites is crucial to tourism organizations' ability to continuously benefit from their existence.   There are no causes easier for organizations and individuals to get behind than those that make emotional and moral sense, as well as practical sense. We in the travel industry believe that ensuring the health of the planet and its population is not only the right thing to do from a moral standpoint, it's also something we have to do if we want to be able to continue offering travel experiences to the world. There may very well be no industry with more opportunity to affect the positive transformation of the planet than the travel and tourism industry. Travel can help people see the fragile beauty of our planet and help influence decision makers. If the travel sector can move the world the way we move people around the world, then our influence can be incredible. But we have to act now and we have to act together.   By BRETT TOLLMAN CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
Brett Tollman is the global CEO of The Travel Corp. and founder of the TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit established to encourage sustainable tourism. He also served as vice-chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). In the year the United Nations has designated as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, we need to ensure World Tourism Day, being marked on Wednesday, is given the attention it requires at such a critical juncture for the international travel sector. I firmly believe that we – the world's travel industry and travellers alike – must follow the example set by the Paris climate accord, which brings together myriad competing entities in the shared goal of sustainability.   A conference earlier this month hosted by Canada's Environment Minister Catherine McKenna brought together 34 countries in a bid to maintain momentum to implement the Paris accord as the United States acknowledged it will not attempt to renegotiate it. In much the same way, we must use the collective momentum provided by the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development to use our sector's distinct influence and capabilities to help shape a more sustainable future for our planet. Otherwise, we will have to watch everything we value and cherish erode and disappear.   At the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in 2015, 154 heads of state or governments adopted the bold and ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which included 17 Sustainable Development Goals that aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Based on this universal, integrated, and transformative vision, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is working with governments, public and private partners, development banks, international and regional finance institutions, UN agencies and international organizations to help achieve these goals. However, if the goals of the 2030 agenda are to be reached, the travel industry and travellers alike must make a deliberate effort to ensure their realization. Canada has stepped into a leading role regarding the Paris accord, and Canadian-based companies and those operating within Canada have an opportunity to play a major role in this charge. When one considers that the Canadian travel sector contributes as much as 8 per cent to Canada's GDP – more than transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, forest products and mining, according to the most recent statistics available – it becomes even more apparent that Canadian travel and tourism businesses can influence this charge. The travel sector's international influence is much the same. As one of the world's largest sectors, supporting 284 million jobs and generating 9.8 per cent of global GDP, we can help to increase public appreciation of the environment and awareness of the value of connecting with the natural world and other cultures and communities in a sustainable way. Tourism can also contribute to environmental protection, conservation and restoration of biological diversity and sustainable use of natural resources. The beauty of the natural world is a vitally important asset for our sector; maintaining the vibrancy of natural sites is crucial to tourism organizations' ability to continuously benefit from their existence.   There are no causes easier for organizations and individuals to get behind than those that make emotional and moral sense, as well as practical sense. We in the travel industry believe that ensuring the health of the planet and its population is not only the right thing to do from a moral standpoint, it's also something we have to do if we want to be able to continue offering travel experiences to the world. There may very well be no industry with more opportunity to affect the positive transformation of the planet than the travel and tourism industry. Travel can help people see the fragile beauty of our planet and help influence decision makers. If the travel sector can move the world the way we move people around the world, then our influence can be incredible. But we have to act now and we have to act together.   By BRETT TOLLMAN CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
The time for sustainability in travel has arrived
The time for sustainability in travel has arrived
Commercialization of Sapa, Vietnam
Is it understanable there are agressive local hawkers? Anyone who has travelled to Sapa will be familiar with the onslaught of women and children dressed in traditional ethnic minority outfits ready to sell their ‘handmade’ souvenirs. Speaking English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Russian and even Italian in order to sell their souvenirs, anywhere tourists flock, aggressive hawkers are bound to follow… With the influx of tourists coming to Sapa, the territory has become saturated with foreign influences. Head into town, and any real estate boasting the views of the rice terraces has all but been snatched up by foreign hotel, bar and restaurant owners. Villages such as the tourist-heavy settlement of Cat Cat are bordering on becoming glorified theme parks, where local ethnic minorities dress up and act a part, in order to greet the daily rush of tourists and sell souvenirs. The result is that many ethnic minorities are losing their cultural heritage, the very heritage that many travellers to Sapa have come there to see. If the cultural identity goes down! “Cultural identity is being lost and foreign guests are becoming disillusioned,” says co-founder of the Sapa eco-tour group Ethos. “I conducted 366 surveys of people in Sapa Town and Ta Van Village in June. 71 percent of those interviewed were foreigners, of which 90 percent said litter was their biggest negative and 69 percent said they wouldn’t ever return to Sapa.” As you stroll the main strip of Sapa Town from Huong Hoa to Fansipan Street, his words become apparent. The potholed streets are lined with bars, Italian pizzerias and nightclubs offering shisha and ‘funny’ balloons. There are 9000+ hotel rooms currently under construction in Sapa. No property is too sacred. Even the tallest mountain in Vietnam — Fansipan — which lies on the outskirts of Sapa is not safe. In the past, scaling this once formidable mountain was a badge of honour for those willing to brave the two-day hike to the mountain’s summit. Now the peak can be reached via a 20-minute cable car ride (VND600,000) built by the Sun World Entertainment conglomerate. It looks like it gets entertainment world in the mountains  At the top, you are rewarded with an observation deck, a Buddhist temple and a souvenir shop. To make things even easier, there are plans to build a railway, which will ferry tourists from the upcoming Sun World five-star hotel to the cable car station, plus a theme park and a golf course. “Those facilities are aimed almost exclusively at Vietnamese and Chinese clients,” says Phil. “Most foreigners [who come to Sapa] seek culture and nature, but most Vietnamese seek cool air and entertainment.” With tourists often spending only two or three days in Sapa, a quick excursion before heading on elsewhere, it’s because of this fast turnaround that many companies have learned the art of making a quick buck. The development is short-sighted, with little thought to sustainability. Why is illiteracy growing and waste piling up? “Growth is happening too quickly. In a town with no litter disposal, no checks on buildings and no water quality, the impacts on local villages have been huge.” Knowing full well that cuteness sells, the allure of selling souvenirs to tourists has left many families pulling their children out of school to spend the days dressed up in traditional Hmong garb in hopes of enticing customers. This has led to an increase in illiteracy among minority children, and warnings by local authorities against buying souvenirs from children have gone unenforced. With investors pouring billions of dollars into Lao Cai province, it is hoped that some of that money will trickle down to the people who live there. “Tourism has made the town more noisy and dirty,” says Ly Thi My, one of the Hmong tour guides working at Ethos. “The road to Lao Cai used to be natural, but now there are buildings everywhere. I don’t like it because the views are being destroyed and there is more rubbish in the rivers.” Seeing the condition of the roads, which are littered with potholes from the damage caused by the heavy trucks used for the large-scale construction projects, shows that not much of that money, if any, is going into infrastructure. Sapa’s growth does have its pros. The increase in tourism has benefited those working in the travel, food and drink industry exponentially. For some, it is a welcome shot to the local economy. “When I was young, my family didn’t have enough food to eat. We had no shoes or warm clothes. Tourism means I can buy the things I need and my children have a better life than I did,” says Giang Thi So, another one of Ethos’s tour guides. Unfortunately, the hiring of local workers for service work is rare. Phil estimates close to 95 percent of the staff come from other parts of Vietnam. As mega-corporations begin privatizing once-public land, and outside influence starts to have effect on the local ethnic minorities, Sapa is truly at a crossroads. With change coming so rapidly, little regard is given to the impact it will have on Sapa’s stunning landscape and the villagers that occupy it. There’s no stopping the construction from raging, but with all the progress, the future of Sapa and its resilient people remain uncertain.
Is it understanable there are agressive local hawkers? Anyone who has travelled to Sapa will be familiar with the onslaught of women and children dressed in traditional ethnic minority outfits ready to sell their ‘handmade’ souvenirs. Speaking English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Russian and even Italian in order to sell their souvenirs, anywhere tourists flock, aggressive hawkers are bound to follow… With the influx of tourists coming to Sapa, the territory has become saturated with foreign influences. Head into town, and any real estate boasting the views of the rice terraces has all but been snatched up by foreign hotel, bar and restaurant owners. Villages such as the tourist-heavy settlement of Cat Cat are bordering on becoming glorified theme parks, where local ethnic minorities dress up and act a part, in order to greet the daily rush of tourists and sell souvenirs. The result is that many ethnic minorities are losing their cultural heritage, the very heritage that many travellers to Sapa have come there to see. If the cultural identity goes down! “Cultural identity is being lost and foreign guests are becoming disillusioned,” says co-founder of the Sapa eco-tour group Ethos. “I conducted 366 surveys of people in Sapa Town and Ta Van Village in June. 71 percent of those interviewed were foreigners, of which 90 percent said litter was their biggest negative and 69 percent said they wouldn’t ever return to Sapa.” As you stroll the main strip of Sapa Town from Huong Hoa to Fansipan Street, his words become apparent. The potholed streets are lined with bars, Italian pizzerias and nightclubs offering shisha and ‘funny’ balloons. There are 9000+ hotel rooms currently under construction in Sapa. No property is too sacred. Even the tallest mountain in Vietnam — Fansipan — which lies on the outskirts of Sapa is not safe. In the past, scaling this once formidable mountain was a badge of honour for those willing to brave the two-day hike to the mountain’s summit. Now the peak can be reached via a 20-minute cable car ride (VND600,000) built by the Sun World Entertainment conglomerate. It looks like it gets entertainment world in the mountains  At the top, you are rewarded with an observation deck, a Buddhist temple and a souvenir shop. To make things even easier, there are plans to build a railway, which will ferry tourists from the upcoming Sun World five-star hotel to the cable car station, plus a theme park and a golf course. “Those facilities are aimed almost exclusively at Vietnamese and Chinese clients,” says Phil. “Most foreigners [who come to Sapa] seek culture and nature, but most Vietnamese seek cool air and entertainment.” With tourists often spending only two or three days in Sapa, a quick excursion before heading on elsewhere, it’s because of this fast turnaround that many companies have learned the art of making a quick buck. The development is short-sighted, with little thought to sustainability. Why is illiteracy growing and waste piling up? “Growth is happening too quickly. In a town with no litter disposal, no checks on buildings and no water quality, the impacts on local villages have been huge.” Knowing full well that cuteness sells, the allure of selling souvenirs to tourists has left many families pulling their children out of school to spend the days dressed up in traditional Hmong garb in hopes of enticing customers. This has led to an increase in illiteracy among minority children, and warnings by local authorities against buying souvenirs from children have gone unenforced. With investors pouring billions of dollars into Lao Cai province, it is hoped that some of that money will trickle down to the people who live there. “Tourism has made the town more noisy and dirty,” says Ly Thi My, one of the Hmong tour guides working at Ethos. “The road to Lao Cai used to be natural, but now there are buildings everywhere. I don’t like it because the views are being destroyed and there is more rubbish in the rivers.” Seeing the condition of the roads, which are littered with potholes from the damage caused by the heavy trucks used for the large-scale construction projects, shows that not much of that money, if any, is going into infrastructure. Sapa’s growth does have its pros. The increase in tourism has benefited those working in the travel, food and drink industry exponentially. For some, it is a welcome shot to the local economy. “When I was young, my family didn’t have enough food to eat. We had no shoes or warm clothes. Tourism means I can buy the things I need and my children have a better life than I did,” says Giang Thi So, another one of Ethos’s tour guides. Unfortunately, the hiring of local workers for service work is rare. Phil estimates close to 95 percent of the staff come from other parts of Vietnam. As mega-corporations begin privatizing once-public land, and outside influence starts to have effect on the local ethnic minorities, Sapa is truly at a crossroads. With change coming so rapidly, little regard is given to the impact it will have on Sapa’s stunning landscape and the villagers that occupy it. There’s no stopping the construction from raging, but with all the progress, the future of Sapa and its resilient people remain uncertain.
Commercialization of Sapa, Vietnam
Commercialization of Sapa, Vietnam
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