Today, June 5, is World Environment Day, designated by the United Nations as a call to action to preserve and enhance our environment. For all of us in the travel industry, it’s an appropriate day to talk about the future of sustainable travel. In honor of World Environment Day, Dana has collected the following takeaways from sustainability gurus on the year’s key sustainable travel trends.
Overtourism isn’t over.
With global tourism expected to reach 1.4 billion people by 2020, there’s reason for concern about overtourism. It is the most mentioned trend by sustainability experts, and destinations are grappling with the challenges that arise when tourists overwhelm a particular place based on current trends or popularity. Bucket-list destinations like Cinque Terre and Machu Picchu are already limiting their number of visitors. But don’t confuse overtourism with overcrowding. The real impact comes from waste production and resource usage. One solution that can work across the board is to better monitor tourism flows according to the place and time of year. For example, the Slovenian Tourist Board is encouraging DMOs (destination marketing organizations) to refocus as destination management organizations. They are developing new itineraries and experiences that target off seasons and less traveled locations to offset overtourism.
Pledge to sustainability.
It’s certainly not a new trend, but travelers continue to demand authentic travel experiences in unspoiled places. From a sustainability point of view, it makes sense to involve them in the process of preserving those destinations. One way to engage travelers is to ask them to pledge to traveling responsibly. Palau is a groundbreaking example, issuing visas only to travelers who sign an eco-pledge. The Palau Pledge, written by the children of Palau, encourages visitors to care for the culture and the environment. (Read more about the inspiring back story of this award-winning project.) Other destinations are following suit, like the Icelandic Pledge, which lays out sustainable travel practices in a more lighthearted way on the official tourism site for Iceland. New Zealand reaches a different audience with its New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment, tasking every NZ tourism business to commit to sustainability by 2025.
Travel will be more…taxing.
Introducing (or raising) tourism taxes is another sustainable travel trend with traction. Don’t be put off by the idea though, because these taxes can help fund the cause of sustainable travel. They can protect a destination by supporting needed infrastructure projects, or they can help fight environmental threats. For instance, Bali has said its proposed tax will be used to address plastic pollution. And there will be a stronger push to tax the day visit. Amsterdam is considering a tourism tax increase that will include cruise passengers. Venice has already introduced a tourist tax for day-trippers to help cover the cost of cleaning and trash collection.
Read the full sustainable travel trends interviews here. Then take a moment to learn about the non-profit Planet Happiness project, which relates to travel and sustainability and measures the impact that tourism has on the host communities of World Heritage sites.
For help with sustainable travel marketing, contact Lynn Kaniper at 609.466.9187 ext. 117or firstname.lastname@example.org today.