US snowsports sector shows tourism industry leadership on climate action

Earlier this month, representatives of all sectors of the US snowsports industry sent a letter to the White House – calling for strong climate action in Paris. The Protect Our Winters letter was signed by 92 global brands, 53 resorts, 50 professional athletes and 13 trade groups and associations – the largest group of snow sports representatives ever assembled. Signatories include such household names as resorts Aspen, Vail  and Jackson Hole, along with skiwear and equipment manufacturers such … [Read more...]

Blue Planet Tourism – time for some fresh water thinking

That tourism uses a lot of water is hardly news. Daily fresh towels. Infinity swimming pools. Golf courses surrounded by desert. The endless irrigation of hotel grounds to keep them looking pristine. The list goes on, and that’s without including the embodied or virtual water that it takes to produce most of the products we consume, and generally consume more voraciously on holiday. For example, every time anyone eats a 300g steak, it can take up to 4,500 litres of water to produce that meat. … [Read more...]

The billion tourist question. Overshoot or Opportunity?

This Thursday, August 13th, is Global Overshoot Day, which marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. First measured in 1987, when it fell on December 19, it has moved ever further forward, so that by the Millennium it fell on November 1; by 2011 on September 27, and this year falls at its earliest date yet. Over the last few months many commentators on tourism have observed the social equivalent … [Read more...]

Everyone working in responsible tourism can learn something from watching golf

Two very different events took place in Scotland last weekend with lessons for anyone working to develop responsible tourism. One was a gathering of activists and environmentalists for the New Story Summit at the Findhorn Foundation. The other was the biennial golf competition between USA and Europe known as the Ryder Cup. The purpose behind the Findhorn Summit is summed up on the event's homepage: 'If we do not create a positive, realistic picture of the future, we will not live into … [Read more...]

How to create great holiday experiences by engaging with sustainability (recipe includes fish)

I have just witnessed a masterclass in how to engage a group of holidaymakers in issues confronting a tourism business trying to operate sustainably. However, no one there came for a lecture in responsibility, or even felt that was what they were getting. What they came for, and spent over one hour in rapt attention at, was a masterclass in how to fillet fish. I am on the island of Tresco, situated 28 miles of the south west coast of England. This weekend has seen the annual Tresco and Bryher … [Read more...]

Airbnb claims homesharing more sustainable than going to a green hotel

Homesharing website airbnb has just released a report that claims staying in the rooms leased out by people on its website is much more sustainable than staying in 'the most sustainable and energy-efficient hotels'. The study was conducted for airbnb by the Cleantech Group from February to April 2014 and based on 8,000 survey responses from airbnb hosts and hotel guests worldwide. Findings published on the airbnb blog include: “airbnb properties consume less energy than hotels per guest night by … [Read more...]

Innovator Spotlight: sustainable tourism in remote mountain communities with Andean Lodges

1 - What inspired you to create your business? We created Andean Lodges thanks to the initiative of two High Andean communities: Chillca and Osefina. During the 90s, the creation of roads allowed remote rural communities to connect with cities. This made business easier for these communities. However, for the alpaca-shepherding communities, this meant a significant drop off in business as the llamas, which were the traditional means of transportation, were replaced by trucks, at the same … [Read more...]

Was the TBEX conference right to cancel its dolphin ride tours in response to pressure? I’m not sure.

Last week it was announced that, following pressure from various bloggers and animal rights campaigners, the travel conference TBEX had removed swim with dolphin tours from its programme of pre-event tours. The general response amongst those working in responsible tourism has been one of celebration. I am less sure how I feel, despite having written twice in recent months about my opposition to dolphinariums (the second article is here). Here is my dilemma. On the one hand I am pleased the … [Read more...]

What should smart travel companies do about elephant rides, dolphinariums and orphanage visits?

Ride an Elephant. Cuddle an orphan. Watch a whale do tricks. For a long time they have been some of the most emotive experiences travel companies can offer. In recent months, however, there have been several negative stories about each of these, many of which we have covered, such as here for dolphins and here for orphanages. I am not going to go into the issues again, but rather look at how travel companies chose to respond. From what I have seen, the responses can be split into three … [Read more...]

Innovator Spotlight: Surtrek and sustainable luxury travel in South America

Ecuador-based Surtrek is a 20-yr old responsible tourism business running luxury travel experiences across South America. Jeremy Smith spoke to its founder Alfonso Tandazo about his inspirations, challenges and ideas. 1 - What inspired you to create your business? Surtrek began 20 years ago with a local guide who had seen the environmental threat posed by conventional tourism to the region's cultural and natural resources – everything from the impairment the water supply and beaches, to … [Read more...]