It is increasingly becoming important that tourism companies take steps to make sure they are encouraging sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism in essence is the concept that travelers can protect and celebrate a culture while also enjoying it.
Obviously it seems like the right thing to do, but one can only imagine how demanding running a company while also attempting to support the local community can be. International tourism is growing, and the more it grows, the topic of sustainable tourism becomes inevitable.
But travelers are not parading to companies only because of sustainable tourism efforts. Ultimately it is value and not company intent that drives tourists, but once they learn of your efforts they are more likely to return. Which begs the question what can one do to make sure their company is encouraging Sustainable Tourism.
Tourism company Basecamp Explorer solved its inner conflict between running a successful business and contributing to the communities where it operates by setting up a non-profit called Basecamp Foundation. These companies operate independent of one another, but work closely together. Basecamp is located in Kenya, and partnered with the local Maasai Mara. Together they started small projects that they knew would be a success.
Over time a 5-acre camp grew to 200,000 and 16 conservancies. Lars Lindkvist, president and chairman of the Basecamp Foundation, states “If we can make a little noise in this market that has a lot of noise, punch through that noise, by winning awards and being visible then maybe we could help create change.” When you combine tourism with non-profit work it is a great way to generate interest and funding, but it is not the only way to help the local indigenous people.
It's also worth mentioning San Blas Adventures located in the San Blas Islands, a series of islands located in between Panama and Colombia. The San Blas Adventures team have developed a strong relationship with the local indigenous people of the islands called the Kuna. The trips are tailored to make sure guests get introduced to the Kuna and learn about the culture and customs. The Kuna people are seamlessly integrated within the experience. Most of the proceeds from the trips stays in San Blas. It is distributed amongst the Kuna, to better help their fragile economy. Slowly but surely the San Blas team and the Kuna people want to establish a sufficient tourism industry in the beautiful San Blas Islands. Another way to ensure sustainable tourism is to educate the tourists themselves.
Greengo Travel is a tour company based in Ecuador with a committed responsibility to sustainable tourism. They provide tours to the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands features one of the most delicate ecosystems in the whole world. According to Lindkvist,“Tourism has found the most beautiful places and cultures around the world and, in many cases, they’ve destroyed it." The Galapagos is a wondrous land that attracts a multitude of tourists every year. Greengo Travel is on a mission to protect the islands starting with their guests. They believe that, “an informed traveler is a responsible traveler.” It is their goal to educate all of their guests, they tailor tours with respect and admiration to the environment, making sure not to disrupt the ecosystem.
There are different ways to go about establishing a sustainable tourism company. Travel is growing exponentially and in some cases many stuff are unregulated, Venice’s lagoon is at risk of complete destruction due to the city’s popularity with cruisers, Machu Picchu has been at risk for more than a decade, and cultures are being stamped out by a never-ending stream of backpackers.
It is up to the travel companies to take matters into their own hands and take the necessary steps to make sure they are running a company with long term goals of sustainable tourism.
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