words Alexa Wang
In a world more connected than ever – by the expansion of online community and ever-growing international transport routes alike – a new age of community and convenience is at once a blessing and a curse. The world is more accessible than it ever has been before, at the expense of threatening the delicate balances inherent to indigenous communities and environmental systems alike.
Adventure vacation specialists Exodus Travel are leading the charge when it comes to responsible travel, with the deployment of their “People, Places and Planet” plan to ensure the positive impact of international tourism. But why is responsible travel such an important issue to address, and how can a travel specialist hold the key to systemic change in global travel?
The Importance of Responsible Travel
Responsible travel is an overarching concept that recognizes the overall impact tourism has on the planet. Much has been made in recent years of the impact that airline travel has on the environment, with commercial air travel alone responsible for at least 3% of the U.S.’ total greenhouse gas emissions. The devastating effect that climate change is having on the world is disproportionately affecting developing communities, with irreversible changes to ecology changing the landscape for indigenous communities forever.
But detrimental effects are experienced on two fronts: ecological and cultural. With the dramatic increase in international tourism comes increased “bleed” of western cultural expectations into different cultures and communities. An overall insensitivity to the cultural practices of now-popular destinations has led to the erosion of that culture, in place of a more sanitized tourist-friendly economy.
Exodus’ “People, Places and Planet” Plan
Much of the responsibility for this effect lies with the businesses and corporations that facilitate far-flung travel – and Exodus is one such company taking affirmative action. Exodus’ “People, Places and Planet” plan is a multifarious venture that seeks to redress the balance when it comes to the environmental and cultural impact of global travel.
Elements of their plan include the rewilding of 100 square meters for every passenger that books with them, as well as the halving of their overall carbon footprint by 2030 and an overall elimination of single-use plastics. In terms of cultural relief, Exodus is pledging an ambitious program of investment in developing communities’ infrastructure and education, as well as protections for culture and tradition.
Traveling Responsibly, as an Individual
Of course, there are ways in which the individual traveler can make their own positive impact, through sustainable travel practices that recognize their location, as well as their impact on the environment:
- Cutting down on single-use plastics, in the form of water bottles and food packaging, can help lower carbon footprint and preserve local environments
- Actively eating local cuisine can bolster the local economy, preserve culture and remove the need for carrying additional foodstuffs – and wasteful packaging for that food
- The heavier your baggage, the larger your carbon footprint in terms of travel. Packing light can decrease your impact on the environment