#DTTT Blog

How eco-tourism can help raise awareness and save the planet?

A few months back, the COP26 summit in Glasgow brought State Parties together to accelerate the action plans towards the Paris Agreement, which was outlined in 2015, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. COP26 intended to discuss how State Parties are progressing towards reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement. At COP26, signatories committed to measuring impact and decarbonising.

The UNWTO stands behind COP26 and endeavours to support it. At COP26, UNWTO Secretary-General declared that a wide-sector approach is needed to ensure tourism accelerates climate action meaningfully. Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, said that the Glasgow Declaration is a great opportunity to unite and lead the Net-zero initiative. Julia Simpson also joined us during X. Festival 2021, where she shared the WTTC’s roadmap for tourism and travel. You can watch Julia’s talk here.

Let’s discuss how the tourism and travel sector is - positively or negatively - contributing to climate change. On the one hand, the tourism and travel sector is developing and implementing sustainable strategies. On the other hand, travellers also seek sustainable travel and tourism and increasingly demonstrate responsible travel behaviour to safeguard the planet. Exploring landscape and seascapes are no longer the sole reason to travel to particular destinations. Many purposefully engage in tourism activities for safeguarding the planet besides exploration. The sector is also expanding sustainable travel opportunities to inspire eco-enthusiasts and encourage responsible travel behaviour.

Ryan Hartman, President and CEO at Worldview, opened X. Festival 2021 with an inspiring talk on changing travellers' perspectives about the planet through space tourism. Worldview is on a mission to give travellers a chance to see the planet, its beauties and its fragility from space. You can watch Ryan’s talk here.

Why is it that we need to see the planet differently?

Every corner of the world is experiencing climate change. From bushfires to melting icebergs, the climate is being dramatically affected by rising temperature and their consequences. Climate change impacts the lives of all kinds of biodiversities that inhabit it. This is where the importance of eco-tourism becomes prominent. Eco-tourism means responsible travel to natural areas with attention to conserve the area and sustain the wellbeing of the local people. Unfortunately, some destinations globally are sinking. While some are becoming more conscious about climate change's impact on the destinations, some would rush to see the destinations before they are gone. Surgical management could be just the solution for DMOs to sustainably manage the area while they remain open to visitors. For example, Venice, which has always been praised for its water canals, is sinking because of high tides, turbulent winds and flooding.

The question is: how can ecotourism benefit the industry?

Conservation: Galápagos Islands (19 altogether) are located in the South American continent where three oceans confluence. The islands and the surrounding marine area are called "living museums and showcase of evolution". Natural activities such as volcanoes and the ongoing seismic continuously affect the shaping of the islands. Increased tourism has been identified as one current threat to the islands. The islands and their great diversity of species require protection. They need to be conserved. The Galápagos Islands put conservation at the forefront of their strategy to ensure they can continue to receive tourists without leaving a negative impact behind. For example, they have introduced a rule where all tourists must be accompanied by a guide at The National Park. The guides essentially educate travellers and protect the site of visit. The Galápagos Islands also raise awareness about the biodiversity and cultural diversity of the islands by developing educational opportunities. Conservation at the Galápagos Islands protects its lands by defining zones where urban developments such as building hotels can occur.

Conservation is becoming a number one priority for many countries. However, it is approached differently depending on a nation’s resources and strategies. In African countries, eco-tourism is a developing industry that yet again leverages conservation and economic growth at the same time. In Africa, environmentalists have been pushing for the preservation and conservation of rich landscapes. Because Africa leverages conservation to attract tourists, many landscapes remain natural and have not intervened. Like Worldview’s space travel, which gives travellers a chance to see the planet from way above, Africa’s hot air balloon experiences give a unique chance to watch migrating zebras and enjoy the landscape. Tourism activities are developed to demonstrate the importance of preserving and conserving the environment.

Fairtrade and agritourism: Fairtrade is all about economic impact, sustainability and fair terms for farmers and workers. But how can that be integrated with tourism? Eco-tourism is an opportunity for farmers to boost their income and share their agricultural knowledge with travellers. In Peru, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, also known as Urubamba River Valley,  receive thousands of travellers each year. However, the economic impact of tourism and travel did not necessarily impact the local communities. As a result, a community of local coffee farmers saw the opportunity to develop sustainable tours to boost the community’s income. The Cocla Co-operative organises tourism experiences which include visits to organic cocoa and coffee farms. They offer tourists a chance to learn about harvesting and roasting coffee as well as spending time with farmers who own and work on the farms. In Canada, the Culinary Tourism Alliance is working towards bridging the gap between food growers, distribution markets and consumers through tourism and travel experiences. Similar to the community fair trade activities in Peru, the Culinary Tourism Alliance values raising awareness about food growth and consumption. "Decent work and economic growth" (SDG8) is one the main key drivers of the Culinary Tourism Alliance. You can watch Rebecca Mackenzie, President & CEO of the Culinary Tourism Alliance, speak at X. Festival 2021 here.

Hosting travellers in the climate: Environmentally-friendly experiences in nature are becoming more popular, especially in post-pandemic times when travellers prefer outdoor and recreation experiences. Often such experiences also offer opportunities for spiritual purifications, meditations or nomadic experiences. Destinations leverage their unique nature by packaging travel experiences that also resonate with their ethos and cultural backgrounds. In Scandinavia, the nordic lifestyle of caring for the environment and the cultural respect for nature is echoed in eco-tourism experiences. In Morocco, walking with desert nomad experiences educates travellers about nomadic lifestyles. It could be a journey of up to 5 days of walking in the desert and staying in ECO approved accommodations on the way. The 'walking with nomads' experiences in Morocco take travellers on a trek with landscapes ranging from the sand Sahara desert to mountains. It is an opportunity to reconnect with nature and experience it as the locals do.

Sustainability is one of the Four Pillars of the work of DTTT.

The race to become sustainable and defined by a clear sense of purpose and values has begun. Digitalisation has determined our competitiveness for more than 10 years but the next decade will require that we demonstrate our progress, bring transparency and use our voice to show that we stand for something.

The key to succeeding in sustainable growth is to be led by a strong sense of responsibility and ownership. We have developed a sustainability programme that is based on building a sense of Leadership in destinations. Find out more about the programme here.

More from #DTTT

  • In April we present:
    Public Policy & Development – Digitalisation Barriers & Policy Intervention
    Digitalisation Barriers & Policy Intervention In Q1's Policy Feature, we're shining a spotlight on our work with UNITAR (CIFAL) Jeju, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research based in South Korea, with whom we led a global human centred capacity building initiative just this month, focused on digitalisation barriers and policy intervention. Those who [...]
  • In April we present:
    Sustainability & Impact – Linking Sustainability With Design
    Linking Sustainability with Design When thinking of sustainability, are you just talking about it or are you taking action? In this quarter’s Sustainability & Impact Feature, we want to highlight what we are doing at the DTTT, through our projects and initiatives, to be part of the change towards creating a more sustainable future within [...]
  • In April we present:
    Creating a Collaborative Experience with Design Offices
    Creating a Collaborative Experience with Design Offices The world is transforming at a rapid speed, we at DTTT invite you to explore with us the digital transitions in the tourism sector and re-shaping the future trends with XDW 2022. During the event, we’ll be visioneering the challenges faced by the travel sector today, and designing [...]
  • In April we present:
    Discover the XDW Urban Jungle
    Discover the XDW Urban Jungle As we are moving closer to the dates of XDW 2022, we are excited to share with you interesting insights about all the recent developments, so you don’t miss out on any important details of DTTT’s first-ever conceptual event X DESIGN WEEK. Join us to explore and design the meta [...]
  • In April we present:
    X Design Week 2022 – All you need to know!
    X Design Week 2022 - All you need to know! At DTTT, we are thrilled to share with you our excitement for X Design Week 2022, if you haven’t heard about XDW yet here’s a quick read to learn all you need to know about the inaugural conceptual event that explores the unparalleled opportunity to [...]
  • In March we present:
    Trends. Transition. Purpose.
    What determines tourism's recovery?  As we come to publish this report, global security hangs in the balance. It is too early to know the extent or outcome of recent developments. We stand in solidarity with Ukraine. Whilst we know that the visitor economy is not immune to global events, we can take solace, knowing that [...]
    #2022 #2022 trends #trend report #domestic #accessibility #purpose #tech trends #sustainability in travel #sustainability #collaboration #flexibility #partnership #report #tech #trend #trends
Show more
© 2020 Digital Tourism Think Tank