In our current social environment, the trending buzzwords seem to be ‘eco’, ‘conscious’ and ‘sustainability’. These words are all based in a sense of awareness. Awareness of the environment, the community, your impact on such and your ability to act on that knowledge.
It is becoming an ever-increasing trend for the wealthy to create their own foundations, or to donate large amounts to organisations which deal with social issues. The noted rise in social contributions for environmental issues, is quite telling of how the environmental and social issues we face are having a greater impact on the daily lives of all of us.
Concept of luxury is evolving
As the luxury-class of tourism has always been something that many people aspire to, this sudden shift of the luxury tourism industry towards inclusion of a more sustainability-focused mindset, has the potential to be highly beneficial. This trend-based form of marketing will help to give the impression that sustainability can also be sophisticated. We are all acting in a manner beneficial to the earth and its inhabitants, regardless of social status.
The perception of luxury constantly evolves. In the not so distant past, luxury was exhibited through exorbitant decor and large chandeliers. Recently, however, luxury is more frequently denoted in a simple, yet sophisticated undertone with a focus on high quality services as opposed to ostentatious design.
Changing the use of plastics
Eliminating the use of plastics throughout the entire tourism industry is a challenge many companies are hesitant to face. Some companies, however, are actively working to remove disposable plastics entirely or to substitute with eco friendlier alternatives
For example, at the International Luxury Travel Expo in Cannes, Neil Jacobs, CEO of the luxury hotel brand Six Sense, has asserted that he will not use plastic straws or plastic containers such as plastic bottles and shampoos.
Banning only the use of hotel toiletry bottles would result in saving the use of approximately 200 million plastic bottles per annum. That is an unimaginable impact for a singular decision, such as forgoing the use of totable guest toiletry items.
Red Carnation Hotels also announced the elimination of 15 plastic items commonly used in hotels. Some examples of this are the use of compostable paper straws or reusable metal straws. And the take-away coffee cups consist of a completely compostable material which does not contain plastic, and the lid of the take-away coffee cup is made of fermented corn starch.
These hotels are only a small example of what can truly be accomplished if hotels globally would enact similar decisions. This commitment to sustainability would in itself have a rather large impact.
It is important that travellers lead the way by making conscientious purchasing decisions. As all business and tourism especially is based on consumer need, consumer demand is closely monitored by businesses, thus enabling them to better cater to the current environment in consumer trends.
Due to consumer demand, it is now showing that even luxury hotels targeting the wealthy, are making the move into a more sustainable direction as an industry. However, although sustainable thinking is increasing worldwide in the travel industry, it is still true that so many travel-related businesses are not yet making the move toward sustainable practices. Businesses such as travel agencies, may be struggling to leave the comfort of traditional business thinking for the more modern and necessary mode of sustainable efforts. If the industry is not able to evolve in its thinking, change will not come easily.
Jacobs says that it is important that you can be honest with yourself about what you are doing for the earth and why you are doing it. It can be quite simple if you just want to do it.
What can we do?
As the consumer, we hold all of the power – through our purchases and through our requests. Ask. Asking does not do harm. Ask your hotel or travel agency what their sustainability practices are. Ask if profit from stays or tours go directly into the local community. People do not ask, and therefore, the industry may not think it important or may have concern that their customers are not interested in eco friendly practices. They are providing a service for you, you only need to help them understand what you want.
By selecting a tourism company which is eco friendly, it enables the travel industry to focus more on sustainable initiatives, understanding and creating them. Hopefully said initiatives will become the travel industry standard in the near future.
Ecotourism World publishes information about ecotourism and sustainable travel.
If you would like inspiration for your next trip, or a little break from your busy day. Click here for newsletter registration.