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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
Fellow Travellers: We
If travellers use their purchasing power to influence travel suppliers to operate in a sustainable manner, there's no limit to what can be accomplished. Travellers, by their very nature, have an awareness about the world. Most Canadians are conscious of the damaging footprint travel can have on the environment and communities. They're witnessing the potential for destruction as they explore. They've observed attractions such as Angkor Wat, Cambodia's famous temple complex, deteriorate under the crush of vandalism, theft and blatant disregard as scores of tourists descended on the site every year.   They've seen elephants forced to suffer through appalling conditions to lug tourists around on their backs. They've absorbed the reports on Canada's Arctic melting as a result of climate change and they've seen cultural traditions swept aside in exchange for cheap tourism dollars. Whether it's damage to the landscape, litter, pollution, exhaustion of resources or cultural erosion, an inundation of thoughtless tourists can overwhelm and desecrate a destination. Today as we mark World Tourism Day, conscientious travellers must demand more from their travel suppliers.    When I first joined the travel industry at the beginning of the decade, sustainability was not exactly the order of the day. That's not to say travel and sustainability coming together was unheard of — the travel sector first witnessed discussions and debates about the "new promising field" of sustainable tourism in the 1970s — but, in my experience working for a magazine that covered the Canadian travel industry at large on a daily basis, I think it's fair to say the ideas of "sustainability" and "responsible travel" were rarely front-page news just a few years ago. The last decade, as climate change compelled thinking on sustainability forward in general, a constantly growing number of responsible travellers are no longer willing to be part of the problem. Increasing power is being given to travellers to use their purchasing power to shape a more sustainable future for travel. If travellers use their purchasing power to influence travel suppliers to operate in a sustainable manner, there's no limit to what can be accomplished as it to relates a more sustainable future. It's not complicated. Canadians simply need to know what to look for as they make their travel-related purchases. One thing that's valuable to keep in mind is that the best travel companies are great at executing unforgettable trips, but that doesn't mean they have the necessary expertise to deliver practical and impactful sustainability projects. That's why progressive travel companies are increasingly partnering with leading sustainability organizations to help save wildlife and elevate communities in the places they visit. In doing so, they are giving agency to those leaders and organizers who are already knowledgeable and capable of delivering effective sustainable travel solutions and helping to ensure that what starts as good intentions actually has a positive effect on the world. Travel companies are proud to talk about these critical relationships. They recognize that operating responsibly is valuable to their bottom line, and that's a good thing for everyone. By simply doing a little research online before booking your next trip, you can quickly discover which companies are supporting sustainable organizations in their efforts to ensure the negative impacts of the experiences they provide are minimal and managed. It's also important to recognize that sustainability is a journey, not a destination. No travel company is going to flip a switch and become completely sustainable overnight, but those that are leading the charge towards a sustainable travel future are continually adopting new best practices and policies to reflect this ever-improving field. Canadians have to ask about these policies. Let travel companies know that these things matter to you. For example, next time you're preparing to book a trip, inquire as to whether the operator has an animal welfare policy. Agreements or policies established with leading animal welfare organizations ensure that the animal-related experiences travel companies offer meet globally recognized animal welfare criteria.   BARCROFT MEDIA VIA GETTY IMAGESTourists click pictures of a Rhino crossing a road during a Jeep Safari in Kaziranga National Park on World Wildlife Day on March 3, 2015 in Assam, India.   You can also ask about their approach to in-destination purchases. Forward-looking travel companies work to help ensure the money you spend while travelling remains in the communities you visit, rather than simply taking as much as they can for themselves. Do their itineraries include stops in local shops and restaurants? The sale of locally made artisan handicrafts and products are vital to local economies. Culture and heritage-based work helps to create jobs, champion economic development, and build connections to the global marketplace. Companies that work to create itineraries that patronize local shops as often as possible put themselves in the best position to empower locals. You, the consumer, have the power. We must now use it effectively, obliging the travel industry to ensure that our beautiful planet can continue to provide us with the unforgettable opportunities to explore, experience, and exchange. It's now up to us all to apply the tenacious dedication and resolve we've demonstrated in exploring our planet to saving it. As travellers, as explorers, we've always demonstrated our deeply rooted capacity to push beyond, to venture into the unknown, and to overcome the impossible. We do all this to satisfy our desire to push beyond preconceived limitations. We overcome oceans, deserts, mountains, political borders, language gaps and cultural differences because we believe in the beauty of our planet and we have a need to seek out and appreciate everything it has in store for us. It's now up to us all to apply the tenacious dedication and resolve we've demonstrated in exploring our planet to saving it. For everything it's given us, we absolutely owe it that much. Zach Vanasse for HuffPost
If travellers use their purchasing power to influence travel suppliers to operate in a sustainable manner, there's no limit to what can be accomplished. Travellers, by their very nature, have an awareness about the world. Most Canadians are conscious of the damaging footprint travel can have on the environment and communities. They're witnessing the potential for destruction as they explore. They've observed attractions such as Angkor Wat, Cambodia's famous temple complex, deteriorate under the crush of vandalism, theft and blatant disregard as scores of tourists descended on the site every year.   They've seen elephants forced to suffer through appalling conditions to lug tourists around on their backs. They've absorbed the reports on Canada's Arctic melting as a result of climate change and they've seen cultural traditions swept aside in exchange for cheap tourism dollars. Whether it's damage to the landscape, litter, pollution, exhaustion of resources or cultural erosion, an inundation of thoughtless tourists can overwhelm and desecrate a destination. Today as we mark World Tourism Day, conscientious travellers must demand more from their travel suppliers.    When I first joined the travel industry at the beginning of the decade, sustainability was not exactly the order of the day. That's not to say travel and sustainability coming together was unheard of — the travel sector first witnessed discussions and debates about the "new promising field" of sustainable tourism in the 1970s — but, in my experience working for a magazine that covered the Canadian travel industry at large on a daily basis, I think it's fair to say the ideas of "sustainability" and "responsible travel" were rarely front-page news just a few years ago. The last decade, as climate change compelled thinking on sustainability forward in general, a constantly growing number of responsible travellers are no longer willing to be part of the problem. Increasing power is being given to travellers to use their purchasing power to shape a more sustainable future for travel. If travellers use their purchasing power to influence travel suppliers to operate in a sustainable manner, there's no limit to what can be accomplished as it to relates a more sustainable future. It's not complicated. Canadians simply need to know what to look for as they make their travel-related purchases. One thing that's valuable to keep in mind is that the best travel companies are great at executing unforgettable trips, but that doesn't mean they have the necessary expertise to deliver practical and impactful sustainability projects. That's why progressive travel companies are increasingly partnering with leading sustainability organizations to help save wildlife and elevate communities in the places they visit. In doing so, they are giving agency to those leaders and organizers who are already knowledgeable and capable of delivering effective sustainable travel solutions and helping to ensure that what starts as good intentions actually has a positive effect on the world. Travel companies are proud to talk about these critical relationships. They recognize that operating responsibly is valuable to their bottom line, and that's a good thing for everyone. By simply doing a little research online before booking your next trip, you can quickly discover which companies are supporting sustainable organizations in their efforts to ensure the negative impacts of the experiences they provide are minimal and managed. It's also important to recognize that sustainability is a journey, not a destination. No travel company is going to flip a switch and become completely sustainable overnight, but those that are leading the charge towards a sustainable travel future are continually adopting new best practices and policies to reflect this ever-improving field. Canadians have to ask about these policies. Let travel companies know that these things matter to you. For example, next time you're preparing to book a trip, inquire as to whether the operator has an animal welfare policy. Agreements or policies established with leading animal welfare organizations ensure that the animal-related experiences travel companies offer meet globally recognized animal welfare criteria.   BARCROFT MEDIA VIA GETTY IMAGESTourists click pictures of a Rhino crossing a road during a Jeep Safari in Kaziranga National Park on World Wildlife Day on March 3, 2015 in Assam, India.   You can also ask about their approach to in-destination purchases. Forward-looking travel companies work to help ensure the money you spend while travelling remains in the communities you visit, rather than simply taking as much as they can for themselves. Do their itineraries include stops in local shops and restaurants? The sale of locally made artisan handicrafts and products are vital to local economies. Culture and heritage-based work helps to create jobs, champion economic development, and build connections to the global marketplace. Companies that work to create itineraries that patronize local shops as often as possible put themselves in the best position to empower locals. You, the consumer, have the power. We must now use it effectively, obliging the travel industry to ensure that our beautiful planet can continue to provide us with the unforgettable opportunities to explore, experience, and exchange. It's now up to us all to apply the tenacious dedication and resolve we've demonstrated in exploring our planet to saving it. As travellers, as explorers, we've always demonstrated our deeply rooted capacity to push beyond, to venture into the unknown, and to overcome the impossible. We do all this to satisfy our desire to push beyond preconceived limitations. We overcome oceans, deserts, mountains, political borders, language gaps and cultural differences because we believe in the beauty of our planet and we have a need to seek out and appreciate everything it has in store for us. It's now up to us all to apply the tenacious dedication and resolve we've demonstrated in exploring our planet to saving it. For everything it's given us, we absolutely owe it that much. Zach Vanasse for HuffPost
Fellow Travellers: We
Fellow Travellers: We've Seen The World. Now Let's Save It
Sustainable Travel Can Be Budget-Friendly
When you think of sustainable travel, what comes to mind? Gorilla trekking in Uganda, perhaps, or a sojourn in a remote yet well-appointed eco-lodge in the forests of Costa Rica, or even a luxurious stay at a Galápagos safari camp with an infinity pool and locally made teak furniture. If these high-cost trips are what pop into your head, your picture of what qualifies as sustainable tourism is not necessarily wrong — it’s just incomplete. The term sustainable travel has been inextricably tied to opulent eco-travel. Fueled by a desire for guiltless extravagance and increasing attention paid to climate change, sustainability became a misused, industrywide buzzword associated with far-flung, expensive trips. But sustainable tourism doesn’t have to be expensive. Not only that, “it should actually be cheaper,” said Kelly Bricker, vice-chair of the board of directors of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, or G.S.T.C. “There should be cost savings for doing the right thing. If you’re sourcing locally, reinvesting back into the community, it should be cheaper than if you’re importing from all over the world to create your product.” Not only should traveling sustainably not break the bank — it’s frequently a better, more enjoyable product than its nonsustainable counterpart. I’ve compiled some tips from experts, as well as from my own experiences, and have found that sustainable travel is something nearly all casual tourists can afford. While there aren’t definitive statistics on the percentage of the hospitality industry deploying a sustained commitment to sustainable travel, there are indications that it is on the rise. A Booking.com studyshows that 65 percent of travelers intend to seek out green accommodation in 2017 — nearly double that of the previous year. And a study conducted by McGraw Hill Construction shows that green building increased by 50 percent from 2011 to 2013, and now encompasses 25 percent of all hospitality construction. Continue reading the main story RELATED COVERAGE   How to Travel the Earth And Protect It, Too APRIL 21, 2016   PURSUITS Where Sustainable Travel Is Headed in 2017 JAN. 6, 2017   THE GETAWAY Greening Your Summer VacationMAY 29, 2017 Frugal Traveler Tips for how to navigate the world on a tight budget.   An Outdoor Wonderland Around the Washington-Idaho BorderSEP 13 The Cheap Charms, Altered and Otherwise, of Portland, Ore.SEP 8 In Warsaw, With Chopin as MuseAUG 23 To Save Money on Flights, Look to Smaller AirportsAUG 16 How to Do Beverly Hills on a BudgetAUG 9 See More »     And that affects an increasingly huge number of travelers. Nearly 1.2 billion people traveled the world in 2015, generating $1.5 trillion — a full 10 percent of global G.D.P. That number — and the huge environmental impact that comes with it — is part of the reason 2017 has been designated the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations. Both travelers and destinations are increasingly acknowledging the impact of sustainable travel. “We are at a crucial crossroads,” said Dirk Glaesser, the director of sustainable development of tourism for the United Nations World Tourism Organization. “We currently see that many countries are taking this very seriously.” Tourism, while a global economic driver, also leaves a big environmental footprint. By some measures it accounts for a full 50 percent of all traffic movements, according to the U.N. Environment Program, and local culture can be strained by too many tourists crowding a particularly beautiful place — a concept known as overtourism. With a rapidly growing tourist base (1.6 billion people by 2020), the need for a sustainable approach grows more and more urgent. The first challenge facing travelers is defining what sustainable travel actually is — and distinguishing it from the many varieties of travel that advocates and marketers have tried to label as sustainable. “When people think of sustainable tourism, they think of small eco-huts,” said David Picard, a former professor of anthropology of tourism at the University of Lausanne and an author of a Unesco study on sustainable development. “Eco-tourism rings a bell — Costa Rica, luxurious safari lodges in East Africa. But that’s just a tiny element.” While those businesses certainly have their place, he said, a small lodge built in a remote location is unlikely to have a significant impact on local and national development. “You don’t create enough jobs or income,” he said. “You don’t create enough capacity. Paradoxically, what we recommend is work with AccorHotels because they have a huge professional capacity. They’ll train an entire hotel — 300 or 500 people — and what we saw is that these staff, once they’re trained, is that they’ll start opening smaller hotels.” That large-scale paying forward of both skill and financial viability is key, Mr. Picard said. “That’s the definition of sustainability — it’s preserving resources for future generations.” (He added that he would “endorse any hotel that has a Green Globe certificate.”) As the notion of sustainable travel has become more mainstream, so has the notion that it implies a level of discomfort — but that need not be the case. “It’s not drinking water out of a vine, holding a machete and getting bitten by bugs,” said Geoff Bolan, chief executive of Sustainable Travel International. What it does mean, he said, is simply exploring the nature and culture of a place. Not all travelers buy in to the idea that they need to worry about sustainability either. That is why advocates have focused on getting big companies on board — they can shift the agenda. AccorHotels’ director of sustainability, Arnaud Herrmann, said the hotel was committed to executing more sustainable practices on a large scale through its Planet 21 program. “You don’t wake up and say, ‘I want sustainability,’ ” he said. “It involves a long process of developing the company culture and integrating the principles within the company.” It doesn’t hurt that the move toward sustainability has buoyed AccorHotels’ bottom line. The company has saved millions of euros by encouraging guests to reuse towels and conserve water — and a portion of that money has gone into its Plant for the Planet program, which has planted five million new trees over the past nine years. (A majority of U.S. hotels also have programs that reuse towels and linens.) The goal is to make environmentally sound choices simple for the consumer and without imposing undue financial burden. “Ecology should be not more expensive, and should not have any negative effect on comfort,” Mr. Herrmann said. The importance of large chains to sustainability doesn’t mean you have to cancel your trip to the tiny lodge in Central America; opportunities to travel sustainably are everywhere. Travelers “think sustainable travel is either too expensive or outside of what they want to do when they travel. More often than not, this is not the case,” said Kelley Louise, executive director of Travel+SocialGood, a sustainable tourism advocacy group. “It can apply to any kind of travel, whether you’re going to New York City or Costa Rica or Europe. When it becomes more applicable, it becomes more powerful to be used as a force for good.” What, then, has prevented sustainable travel from gaining broader acceptance? It might be a branding issue. “The word sustainable is not very digestible,” said Ana Duék, editor of Viajar Verde, a news site about sustainable travel. “The idea is to communicate it in a more attractive way to travelers, using words like ‘authenticity’ and ‘experience.’ ” That sort of demystification is what organizations like Visit.org are trying to accomplish. The site curates different local travel experiences — ranging from free to several thousand dollars per person — in the name of social good. Sustainability, the idea goes, is not always something quantifiable like a certain number of trees planted or an amount of food waste reduced — it can also be about cultural exchange. An experience at the League of Kitchens, in which people can sign up to cook in home kitchens around New York City, demonstrates that sustainable travel need not necessitate leaving the country. The immersive cooking workshops ($175) aim to empower immigrant and refugee women. “It’s not about visitors sharing their skills with the locals,” Michal Alter, a founder of Visit.org, said. “It’s about the community sharing their experiences and history with the visitors.” Other experiences visitors can book on the site include an art workshop in Siem Reap, Cambodia ($18), and a five-day wine tasting tour in Moldova ($594). Generally speaking, sustainable travel simply means being open to other cultures. “Dare to talk to someone you usually wouldn’t talk to,” said Mr. Glaesser of the World Tourism Organization. “Leave a positive footprint, whether it’s a local purchase or a kind of respectful economic or cultural input.” Here are more practical tips for traveling sustainably that won’t blow your travel budget — and in some cases will save you money. Check for Certifications There are dozens of different green certification programs, making it difficult for travelers to know what’s what. Is Green Globe the same as Green Key? Is Travelife the same as EarthCheck? Look to see if the plan is recognized by the G.S.T.C. by checking their website. The group holds recognized certification plans to certain baseline standards, requiring that hotels or tour operators obey local labor laws, promote their services accurately, and support local infrastructure and community development. Systems can be gamed, of course, and not all green hotels are equal. Nevertheless, “I’d say that any kind of accreditation a hotel has is a good thing — some are better than others but something is better than nothing,” said David Ville, the group sustainability manager for Thomas Cook Group, a British-based global travel company. A green or energy-efficient hotel need not translate to a higher price. Indeed, one of the properties under the AccorHotels group of properties is Red Roof Inn — one of the more frugal chain options in the United States. Don’t be afraid to do a bit of research to make a determination. On the higher end, I looked up five-star hotels in Manhattan for a weekend in November. The New York Edition hotel, which is LEED certified (a U.S. certification program for green buildings), and the NoMad (LEED Gold certified, a more rigorous level of certification) came up at $404 and $364 per night, respectively. The nearby Langham Place and Gramercy Park hotels, without LEED certifications, were more expensive, at $484 and $419 per night, respectively. I’m cherry picking, but my point is that green certification doesn’t necessarily translate to higher prices. Consider a Tour Operator Tour operators are not as widely used in the United States as they are elsewhere, but large organizations like Thomas Cook have the leverage to make a difference in sustainability, particularly in its trickiest area: flights. Air travel leaves an enormous carbon footprint — by some accounts, a round-trip flight from New York to Europe can create a warming effect equivalent to two or three tons of carbon dioxide per person. One way to help is to patronize an airline that uses renewable biofuel: There are a number, including United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Alaska Airlines, which is experimenting with a fuel blendpartially powered by leftover branches and stumps from timber harvests. Another is to turn to an operator with its own planes. Thomas Cook does so much volume that it has its own airline and, therefore, can control variables like flight capacity. “We don’t run planes unless they’re full, basically,” Mr. Ville said. “We run planes to places we know will be busy certain times of year.” Thomas Cook has set the goal of improving efficiency per passenger by 12 percent by 2020, he said, and it will try to achieve that goal with different strategies, including single-engine taxiing on runways and reducing onboard weight. Prices are pretty reasonable too — I found a last-minute package that offered seven nights at a resort in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, including a round-trip flight from Manchester, England, for about $300 per person (double occupancy). Use Home-Sharing Sites Sensibly Home-sharing sites certainly offer some fantastic deals — just make sure you read between the lines. Click on the host’s profile and do a little digging. Does that person also have 10 other properties listed? Consider looking elsewhere. Many who accuse Airbnb of taking away from the housing pool for a city’s permanent residents decry these mini Airbnb empires. Mr. Picard, who lives in Lisbon, said that half of the city’s historic areas “have become Airbnb neighborhoods.” Perhaps in an attempt to combat those sorts of perceptions, the company is taking steps to work with destinations on sustainability efforts. Airbnb has committed $65,000 to sponsoring a November sustainable tourism conference in Jamaica, which hosted 32,000 Airbnb visitors last year. Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s minister of tourism, wrote in an email that Airbnb “is broadening the base of ownership within tourism and is enabling a wider entrepreneurship to emerge.” Reconsider the Hostel The word “hostel” may conjure phantom bug bites, but the category is making progress. Many hostels are as good as some hotels, and offer private rooms if you are not up for bunking with a room full of strangers. They are also usually cheaper, frequently offering perks like free breakfasts. Not only that, Ms. Louise of Travel+SocialGood said, but “hostels are frequently more keyed into an area and allow more direct impact on a community.” I found this to be true on a recent trip to Johannesburg, where I didn’t even stay at the hostel, Curiocity Backpackers — I simply used it as a resource to meet people and to find a tour of a township led by a local guide. Ms. Louise cited Hostelling International as a good resource to find places that work directly with community groups and local N.G.O.s. Think Outside the Popular Zones Overtourism, like overfishing, can deplete a region’s resources. Ms. Louise suggests being part of the solution by considering the outskirts of a popular destination instead of city centers and the like — a way to save both money and hassle. “I’ll stay in Long Island City, for example, instead of Manhattan,” she said, referring to the riverside Queens neighborhood — though locals will note that Long Island City isn’t the cheap, low-lying industrial area it once was. Still, the additional commute time to popular attractions is negligible and savings can be substantial. Volunteer, but Be Diligent Volunteering can be a fantastic, inexpensive way to make a positive impact on a community. But do some research before committing to volunteer work in developing countries, especially if that volunteer work involves children. On her site, Soul Travel Blog, Ellie Cleary recounts paying an organization to place her as a teacher with a classroom of 6- to 11-year-old students in Cambodia. When most of the students sold the textbooks she bought them, she writes, “I realized just how out of depth I was in the situation, as someone who had no idea as to the cultural and educational norms in the country.” Volunteer willingly, but be skeptical. “Avoid orphanages. Many are more focused on profit than doing good,” said Ms. Duék of Viajar Verde. “When volunteering, think if you have the skills to actually help.” The site ChildSafe Movement details ways travelers can help protect local children. Last year, when I volunteered to tutor children in the Dominican Republic during a seven-day Fathom cruise, my voluntourism misgivings — that I wouldn’t be contributing in a positive or lasting way — were ultimately outweighed by the fact that I had teaching experience, and that the tutoring was conducted in the child’s house, surrounded by her family. Eat and Shop Locally It sounds obvious but it’s worth repeating — try to eat and shop locally as much as possible. It will provide a better experience, and frequently save a bit of money. “Choose a place that has a local flavor, uses local products or engages with the community to provide entertainment opportunities,” Thomas Cook’s Mr. Ville said. Not sure upon first glance if a place sources its food or products locally? Just ask. Use Common Sense The traveler’s and vendor’s greatest ally in promoting sustainable tourism is simply common sense, which doesn’t cost a thing. Turn lights off. Don’t waste food. Avoid creating extra trash. “No one’s begging for a Styrofoam cup,” said Mr. Bolan, of Sustainable Travel International, “Or a plastic water bottle with three ounces of water in it, or their light to be on when no one is there.” From a business perspective, Mr. Ville cites basics such as “properly managing energy in the hotel, changing A/C units, reducing food waste” as essentials of running a sustainable business. Water conservation is also vital, as “the cost of water and pools is going through the roof.” Lastly, don’t be afraid speak up. If you don’t like that your hotel or airline gives you a plastic bottle, say so. Creating a sea change begins with action, no matter how small. “Everybody’s got a role,” Mr. Bolan said, though he is quick to tamp down expectations. “You can voice your opinion in 30 seconds, but it takes a longer time to change policy.” A version of this article appears in print on October 1, 2017, on Page TR1 of the New York edition with the headline: Sustainable Travel Can Be Budget-Friendly.    - Lucas Peterson  
When you think of sustainable travel, what comes to mind? Gorilla trekking in Uganda, perhaps, or a sojourn in a remote yet well-appointed eco-lodge in the forests of Costa Rica, or even a luxurious stay at a Galápagos safari camp with an infinity pool and locally made teak furniture. If these high-cost trips are what pop into your head, your picture of what qualifies as sustainable tourism is not necessarily wrong — it’s just incomplete. The term sustainable travel has been inextricably tied to opulent eco-travel. Fueled by a desire for guiltless extravagance and increasing attention paid to climate change, sustainability became a misused, industrywide buzzword associated with far-flung, expensive trips. But sustainable tourism doesn’t have to be expensive. Not only that, “it should actually be cheaper,” said Kelly Bricker, vice-chair of the board of directors of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, or G.S.T.C. “There should be cost savings for doing the right thing. If you’re sourcing locally, reinvesting back into the community, it should be cheaper than if you’re importing from all over the world to create your product.” Not only should traveling sustainably not break the bank — it’s frequently a better, more enjoyable product than its nonsustainable counterpart. I’ve compiled some tips from experts, as well as from my own experiences, and have found that sustainable travel is something nearly all casual tourists can afford. While there aren’t definitive statistics on the percentage of the hospitality industry deploying a sustained commitment to sustainable travel, there are indications that it is on the rise. A Booking.com studyshows that 65 percent of travelers intend to seek out green accommodation in 2017 — nearly double that of the previous year. And a study conducted by McGraw Hill Construction shows that green building increased by 50 percent from 2011 to 2013, and now encompasses 25 percent of all hospitality construction. Continue reading the main story RELATED COVERAGE   How to Travel the Earth And Protect It, Too APRIL 21, 2016   PURSUITS Where Sustainable Travel Is Headed in 2017 JAN. 6, 2017   THE GETAWAY Greening Your Summer VacationMAY 29, 2017 Frugal Traveler Tips for how to navigate the world on a tight budget.   An Outdoor Wonderland Around the Washington-Idaho BorderSEP 13 The Cheap Charms, Altered and Otherwise, of Portland, Ore.SEP 8 In Warsaw, With Chopin as MuseAUG 23 To Save Money on Flights, Look to Smaller AirportsAUG 16 How to Do Beverly Hills on a BudgetAUG 9 See More »     And that affects an increasingly huge number of travelers. Nearly 1.2 billion people traveled the world in 2015, generating $1.5 trillion — a full 10 percent of global G.D.P. That number — and the huge environmental impact that comes with it — is part of the reason 2017 has been designated the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations. Both travelers and destinations are increasingly acknowledging the impact of sustainable travel. “We are at a crucial crossroads,” said Dirk Glaesser, the director of sustainable development of tourism for the United Nations World Tourism Organization. “We currently see that many countries are taking this very seriously.” Tourism, while a global economic driver, also leaves a big environmental footprint. By some measures it accounts for a full 50 percent of all traffic movements, according to the U.N. Environment Program, and local culture can be strained by too many tourists crowding a particularly beautiful place — a concept known as overtourism. With a rapidly growing tourist base (1.6 billion people by 2020), the need for a sustainable approach grows more and more urgent. The first challenge facing travelers is defining what sustainable travel actually is — and distinguishing it from the many varieties of travel that advocates and marketers have tried to label as sustainable. “When people think of sustainable tourism, they think of small eco-huts,” said David Picard, a former professor of anthropology of tourism at the University of Lausanne and an author of a Unesco study on sustainable development. “Eco-tourism rings a bell — Costa Rica, luxurious safari lodges in East Africa. But that’s just a tiny element.” While those businesses certainly have their place, he said, a small lodge built in a remote location is unlikely to have a significant impact on local and national development. “You don’t create enough jobs or income,” he said. “You don’t create enough capacity. Paradoxically, what we recommend is work with AccorHotels because they have a huge professional capacity. They’ll train an entire hotel — 300 or 500 people — and what we saw is that these staff, once they’re trained, is that they’ll start opening smaller hotels.” That large-scale paying forward of both skill and financial viability is key, Mr. Picard said. “That’s the definition of sustainability — it’s preserving resources for future generations.” (He added that he would “endorse any hotel that has a Green Globe certificate.”) As the notion of sustainable travel has become more mainstream, so has the notion that it implies a level of discomfort — but that need not be the case. “It’s not drinking water out of a vine, holding a machete and getting bitten by bugs,” said Geoff Bolan, chief executive of Sustainable Travel International. What it does mean, he said, is simply exploring the nature and culture of a place. Not all travelers buy in to the idea that they need to worry about sustainability either. That is why advocates have focused on getting big companies on board — they can shift the agenda. AccorHotels’ director of sustainability, Arnaud Herrmann, said the hotel was committed to executing more sustainable practices on a large scale through its Planet 21 program. “You don’t wake up and say, ‘I want sustainability,’ ” he said. “It involves a long process of developing the company culture and integrating the principles within the company.” It doesn’t hurt that the move toward sustainability has buoyed AccorHotels’ bottom line. The company has saved millions of euros by encouraging guests to reuse towels and conserve water — and a portion of that money has gone into its Plant for the Planet program, which has planted five million new trees over the past nine years. (A majority of U.S. hotels also have programs that reuse towels and linens.) The goal is to make environmentally sound choices simple for the consumer and without imposing undue financial burden. “Ecology should be not more expensive, and should not have any negative effect on comfort,” Mr. Herrmann said. The importance of large chains to sustainability doesn’t mean you have to cancel your trip to the tiny lodge in Central America; opportunities to travel sustainably are everywhere. Travelers “think sustainable travel is either too expensive or outside of what they want to do when they travel. More often than not, this is not the case,” said Kelley Louise, executive director of Travel+SocialGood, a sustainable tourism advocacy group. “It can apply to any kind of travel, whether you’re going to New York City or Costa Rica or Europe. When it becomes more applicable, it becomes more powerful to be used as a force for good.” What, then, has prevented sustainable travel from gaining broader acceptance? It might be a branding issue. “The word sustainable is not very digestible,” said Ana Duék, editor of Viajar Verde, a news site about sustainable travel. “The idea is to communicate it in a more attractive way to travelers, using words like ‘authenticity’ and ‘experience.’ ” That sort of demystification is what organizations like Visit.org are trying to accomplish. The site curates different local travel experiences — ranging from free to several thousand dollars per person — in the name of social good. Sustainability, the idea goes, is not always something quantifiable like a certain number of trees planted or an amount of food waste reduced — it can also be about cultural exchange. An experience at the League of Kitchens, in which people can sign up to cook in home kitchens around New York City, demonstrates that sustainable travel need not necessitate leaving the country. The immersive cooking workshops ($175) aim to empower immigrant and refugee women. “It’s not about visitors sharing their skills with the locals,” Michal Alter, a founder of Visit.org, said. “It’s about the community sharing their experiences and history with the visitors.” Other experiences visitors can book on the site include an art workshop in Siem Reap, Cambodia ($18), and a five-day wine tasting tour in Moldova ($594). Generally speaking, sustainable travel simply means being open to other cultures. “Dare to talk to someone you usually wouldn’t talk to,” said Mr. Glaesser of the World Tourism Organization. “Leave a positive footprint, whether it’s a local purchase or a kind of respectful economic or cultural input.” Here are more practical tips for traveling sustainably that won’t blow your travel budget — and in some cases will save you money. Check for Certifications There are dozens of different green certification programs, making it difficult for travelers to know what’s what. Is Green Globe the same as Green Key? Is Travelife the same as EarthCheck? Look to see if the plan is recognized by the G.S.T.C. by checking their website. The group holds recognized certification plans to certain baseline standards, requiring that hotels or tour operators obey local labor laws, promote their services accurately, and support local infrastructure and community development. Systems can be gamed, of course, and not all green hotels are equal. Nevertheless, “I’d say that any kind of accreditation a hotel has is a good thing — some are better than others but something is better than nothing,” said David Ville, the group sustainability manager for Thomas Cook Group, a British-based global travel company. A green or energy-efficient hotel need not translate to a higher price. Indeed, one of the properties under the AccorHotels group of properties is Red Roof Inn — one of the more frugal chain options in the United States. Don’t be afraid to do a bit of research to make a determination. On the higher end, I looked up five-star hotels in Manhattan for a weekend in November. The New York Edition hotel, which is LEED certified (a U.S. certification program for green buildings), and the NoMad (LEED Gold certified, a more rigorous level of certification) came up at $404 and $364 per night, respectively. The nearby Langham Place and Gramercy Park hotels, without LEED certifications, were more expensive, at $484 and $419 per night, respectively. I’m cherry picking, but my point is that green certification doesn’t necessarily translate to higher prices. Consider a Tour Operator Tour operators are not as widely used in the United States as they are elsewhere, but large organizations like Thomas Cook have the leverage to make a difference in sustainability, particularly in its trickiest area: flights. Air travel leaves an enormous carbon footprint — by some accounts, a round-trip flight from New York to Europe can create a warming effect equivalent to two or three tons of carbon dioxide per person. One way to help is to patronize an airline that uses renewable biofuel: There are a number, including United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Alaska Airlines, which is experimenting with a fuel blendpartially powered by leftover branches and stumps from timber harvests. Another is to turn to an operator with its own planes. Thomas Cook does so much volume that it has its own airline and, therefore, can control variables like flight capacity. “We don’t run planes unless they’re full, basically,” Mr. Ville said. “We run planes to places we know will be busy certain times of year.” Thomas Cook has set the goal of improving efficiency per passenger by 12 percent by 2020, he said, and it will try to achieve that goal with different strategies, including single-engine taxiing on runways and reducing onboard weight. Prices are pretty reasonable too — I found a last-minute package that offered seven nights at a resort in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, including a round-trip flight from Manchester, England, for about $300 per person (double occupancy). Use Home-Sharing Sites Sensibly Home-sharing sites certainly offer some fantastic deals — just make sure you read between the lines. Click on the host’s profile and do a little digging. Does that person also have 10 other properties listed? Consider looking elsewhere. Many who accuse Airbnb of taking away from the housing pool for a city’s permanent residents decry these mini Airbnb empires. Mr. Picard, who lives in Lisbon, said that half of the city’s historic areas “have become Airbnb neighborhoods.” Perhaps in an attempt to combat those sorts of perceptions, the company is taking steps to work with destinations on sustainability efforts. Airbnb has committed $65,000 to sponsoring a November sustainable tourism conference in Jamaica, which hosted 32,000 Airbnb visitors last year. Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s minister of tourism, wrote in an email that Airbnb “is broadening the base of ownership within tourism and is enabling a wider entrepreneurship to emerge.” Reconsider the Hostel The word “hostel” may conjure phantom bug bites, but the category is making progress. Many hostels are as good as some hotels, and offer private rooms if you are not up for bunking with a room full of strangers. They are also usually cheaper, frequently offering perks like free breakfasts. Not only that, Ms. Louise of Travel+SocialGood said, but “hostels are frequently more keyed into an area and allow more direct impact on a community.” I found this to be true on a recent trip to Johannesburg, where I didn’t even stay at the hostel, Curiocity Backpackers — I simply used it as a resource to meet people and to find a tour of a township led by a local guide. Ms. Louise cited Hostelling International as a good resource to find places that work directly with community groups and local N.G.O.s. Think Outside the Popular Zones Overtourism, like overfishing, can deplete a region’s resources. Ms. Louise suggests being part of the solution by considering the outskirts of a popular destination instead of city centers and the like — a way to save both money and hassle. “I’ll stay in Long Island City, for example, instead of Manhattan,” she said, referring to the riverside Queens neighborhood — though locals will note that Long Island City isn’t the cheap, low-lying industrial area it once was. Still, the additional commute time to popular attractions is negligible and savings can be substantial. Volunteer, but Be Diligent Volunteering can be a fantastic, inexpensive way to make a positive impact on a community. But do some research before committing to volunteer work in developing countries, especially if that volunteer work involves children. On her site, Soul Travel Blog, Ellie Cleary recounts paying an organization to place her as a teacher with a classroom of 6- to 11-year-old students in Cambodia. When most of the students sold the textbooks she bought them, she writes, “I realized just how out of depth I was in the situation, as someone who had no idea as to the cultural and educational norms in the country.” Volunteer willingly, but be skeptical. “Avoid orphanages. Many are more focused on profit than doing good,” said Ms. Duék of Viajar Verde. “When volunteering, think if you have the skills to actually help.” The site ChildSafe Movement details ways travelers can help protect local children. Last year, when I volunteered to tutor children in the Dominican Republic during a seven-day Fathom cruise, my voluntourism misgivings — that I wouldn’t be contributing in a positive or lasting way — were ultimately outweighed by the fact that I had teaching experience, and that the tutoring was conducted in the child’s house, surrounded by her family. Eat and Shop Locally It sounds obvious but it’s worth repeating — try to eat and shop locally as much as possible. It will provide a better experience, and frequently save a bit of money. “Choose a place that has a local flavor, uses local products or engages with the community to provide entertainment opportunities,” Thomas Cook’s Mr. Ville said. Not sure upon first glance if a place sources its food or products locally? Just ask. Use Common Sense The traveler’s and vendor’s greatest ally in promoting sustainable tourism is simply common sense, which doesn’t cost a thing. Turn lights off. Don’t waste food. Avoid creating extra trash. “No one’s begging for a Styrofoam cup,” said Mr. Bolan, of Sustainable Travel International, “Or a plastic water bottle with three ounces of water in it, or their light to be on when no one is there.” From a business perspective, Mr. Ville cites basics such as “properly managing energy in the hotel, changing A/C units, reducing food waste” as essentials of running a sustainable business. Water conservation is also vital, as “the cost of water and pools is going through the roof.” Lastly, don’t be afraid speak up. If you don’t like that your hotel or airline gives you a plastic bottle, say so. Creating a sea change begins with action, no matter how small. “Everybody’s got a role,” Mr. Bolan said, though he is quick to tamp down expectations. “You can voice your opinion in 30 seconds, but it takes a longer time to change policy.” A version of this article appears in print on October 1, 2017, on Page TR1 of the New York edition with the headline: Sustainable Travel Can Be Budget-Friendly.    - Lucas Peterson  
Sustainable Travel Can Be Budget-Friendly
Sustainable Travel Can Be Budget-Friendly
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