Travel that’s also positive for the planet
The way we choose to spend our holiday funds matters and our choices have environmental, as well as social, implications. So much so that the United Nations made 2017 the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, an initiative they hope will raise awareness and promote the inherent values of different cultures. This, they say, will contribute to the strengthening of world peace.
So what should we bear in mind before setting off? Mark Watson, Executive Director at Tourism Concern ( tourismconcern.org.uk), a UK charity campaigning for ethical and fairtrade tourism, says a little research goes a long way.
“If you are going to travel and this causes environmental impact, then there’s got to be some benefit to that,” he says, urging us to, for example, engage with local people and think about how our spending can best support them. What’s more, look into the political and cultural background of the place you want to visit, learn a few words and consider your impact on the environment, on animal welfare, on the local economy and those who live there.
Entering these aspects into your planning might lead you off the beaten track, but who says that is a bad thing? “If you go to a place where local people welcome you and are paid a decent wage, where people are not having their human rights abused or where the tourists are not stealing all the water or anything else from a destination, then you’re probably going to get a better holiday anyway,” says Watson.
As for LGBT people, it is important to bear in mind your own, as well as local people’s, safety, however, Watson adds that it is also worth considering whether visiting can help change attitudes. “Even in countries with poor human rights records you find the people on the ground are often decent, nice and caring... By travelling you’re breaking down barriers.”
So, go on holiday and have a wonderful time, but do consider your carbon footprint and how you can make the most out of it. As Watson says: “If you can also help local people while you’re there then that surely has to be a powerful thing.”
5 DESTINATIONS MAKING A DIFFERENCE THREE SISTERS TREKKING, NEPAL
One of few women- owned trekking companies in Nepal, Three Sisters also runs nonprofit organisation Empowering Women of Nepal, training female trekking guides in a country where sporting women face social stigma. As a guest at this solar and recyclingpowered enterprise, you will be guided by one of the near 1,000 women from disadvantaged backgrounds who have been trained here. And the money you pay for a once-in-a-lifetime experience will help fund their employment, as well as local women’s and children’s projects. ethical.travel/listing/ three-sisters-trekking
SONEVA FUSHI, MALDIVES
Situated in the tropical rainforest on the paradise islands of the Maldives, the multi-award-winning luxury castaway resort of Soneva Fushi has been carbon neutral since 2014. They are 100% water self-sufficient, 73% of solid waste is recycled and they create their own research into reef conservation and biodiversity. What’s more, they are working towards becoming the best employer for women in the Maldives and the foundation co-runs a mobile dog clinic. soneva.com LJUBLJANA ,SLOVENIA You read about the beauty of Slovenia and their warm welcome to the LGBT traveller on page 76, but did you know that Ljubljana was named the European Green Capital last year? With a largely car-free city centre, a zero-waste policy and 542 square metres of public green space per resident, it’s a must for anyone interested in a green break – and you can get here by train (include a nice overnight stop in Munich, for example). greenljubljana.com
KASBAH DU TOUBKAL, MOROCCO
Situated in the Toubkal National Park, in a dramatic setting below Jbel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa, this award-winning hotel is the perfect base for excursions in the Moroccan countryside. The hotel has created much-needed local jobs and the tourism profits have been used in part to fund education programmes for women, a welcomed initiative for families who don’t want to send their girls to study in bigger cities. ethical. travel/listing/kasbah-du-toubkal
PACUARE LODGE, COSTA RICA
One of the National Geographic’s top eco lodges and a gem in Costa Rica’s eco travel crown, the Pacuare Lodge offers a totally unique and sustainable holiday experience. The resort, which was built using lumber from a reforestation project run by small farmers, is nestled deep within the jungle alongside the Pacuare river and it is evident their respect for nature lies at the heart of their operation. Stay at this gorgeously romantic hotel and learn from the native population who regularly collaborate with the resort. pacuarelodge.com
Tourism Concern produces an Ethical Travel Guide. You can read it at ethical.travel. Become a member to get more advice and discounts, as well as to access their latest research.
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