A change in priorities has travellers and the travel industry embracing responsible travel in 2021. Thankfully, as 2021 unfolds, the impact of Coronavirus has changed viewpoints and inspired people to be more mindful about choosing travel destinations. Post- pandemic, travellers are looking at how to be more responsible and respectful of places. Findings from the 2020 Global Research report from Bookings.com cementing this viewpoint.
Bookings.com Global Research Report 2020
Booking.com released findings from a global research report, in this instance analysts asked travellers if and how they planned to travel differently when borders reopen. Taken from 20 thousand travellers across 28 countries worldwide – the results are intriguing and make an interesting read.
67 percent of people want their travel choices to support the destination’s recovery efforts. 53 percent of global travellers wanted ‘to travel more sustainably in the future as Coronavirus has opened their eyes to humans’ impact on the environment’. 69 percent expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options, whilst 67 percent expect travel choices to reflect their destinations recovery. Furthermore, respondents indicated wanting to travel outside peak times to avoid overcrowding. Which is another commendable and interesting shift in attitude.
Mindful travel is arguably very subjective.
It involves being completely present for the experience at that moment, mind and body, being open and curious. Not letting your mind wander and be distracted with thoughts elsewhere. In my opinion, it’s catching myself when I’m zoning out and redirecting my focus to the present. Firstly, being respectful of the culture. Secondly, not imposing my own views, but seeing the experience as a newcomer. Of course, this may differ in opinion and that is completely ok, make it count whatever you believe in.
Focusing on what you’re actually experiencing and being in touch with your senses is a good start. Listening to new languages or dialects. Watching the sunset disappear into the ocean. The smell of the salty sea air. The feeling of sand beneath your bare feet and the refreshing explosion of flavours tantalising taste buds at meal times. Sense impressions contribute in evoking lasting memories, thereby embracing the present moment is indicative of a mindful travel experience.
Responsible Travel – Wearing a green heart on your shirt
Responsible tourism decreases negative economic, social and environmental impacts. By generating better economic benefits, enhancing the livelihoods and well-being of local host communities and enabling animal conservation. I visualise it as wearing a green heart on your shirt.
In the travel industry post pandemic viewpoints have changed considerably for the better, but I am wondering how they will be implemented. Looking at the bigger picture there are solutions. Rewarding eco-friendly businesses addressing climate change by making practical improvements and working jointly with local communities taking onboard recycling and using solar panels, for example, is a step in the right direction. Animal conservation and a better understanding of ethical safaris and observing wildlife in their habitat is of vital importance.
It looks like there will be more active, eco-friendly travel booking options and I hope this filters down to accommodation. With eco lodges designed to have minimal impact on the environment and being as sustainable as can be in usage of resources. It would be great to see this becoming a normality in the not too distant future. In a later paragraph, I will give more details of what is available.
Tourism pledges have gathered momentum with destinations like Iceland, Hawaii and New Zealand attempting to train travellers in sustainable practices and cultural awareness. Mainly on a voluntary basis, multipoint pledges cover a range of responsible travel vows. Ranging from not littering on walking trails to respecting local customs.
Fascinatingly, a country that has enforced change is Palau. Becoming the the first carbon neutral destination – pioneering the future by insisting on environmental protection. Visitors are asked to give an eco pledge to be ecologically minded and culturally aware. Moreover, this replaces the usual passport stamp and visitors are asked to sign a five stanza declaration instead.
In June 2017, the Icelandic Pledge was launched through an online portal, with vows including ‘I will take to die for, without dying for them’. ‘I will follow the road into the unknown, but not venture off’ and, my favourite, ‘When nature calls, I won’t answer the call on nature’. Tourists can sign the pledge online at InspiredIceland.com.
Evaluating the environmental footprints
With changing attitudes, finding the most instagrammable place is no longer the top of the list. A new trend emerging with travellers is the careful consideration of responsible travel and sustainability. Resulting in companies having to re-evaluate their environmental footprint and seriously take into consideration the wishes of travellers booking with them. Pigeon steps in the right direction – but let’s be grateful for that.
There are numerous companies and in future blog posts I intend to add these in more detail or update this one. One that stands out to me is Ecocompanion. An eco-travel company and booking platform that brings together off track lodges, tours, trails, activities and conservation projects where you can build your own itinerary. Clever stuff! With over 5000 adventures ranging from hiking, tracking snow leopards, kayaking, rainforest research, marine conservation to beach cleans on UK coasts. Which is on my list as I intend to concentrate on domestic travel in 2021. There is something to suit all tastes and ages.
Concluding with one of my favourite quotes, which I feel sums it up:
‘If you think adventure is dangerous. Try routine. It’s lethal’ – Paolo Coelho
References: Ecocompanionhttps://visiticeland.com/pledge https://globalnews.booking.com https://palaupledge.com