Sustainability is now the biggest trend within the travel industry, with travel corporations and organizations like the World Travel & Tourism Council, Accor, Iberostar Group, G Adventures and many more signing the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism.
This is a great step towards making a better travel and tourism industry, one that benefits both the planet, travelers and those who work within the industry.
But we’re also at another crucial intersection in the industry: how do we interact with, work with and embrace the cultures and histories that attract millions to travel for pleasure each year while making sure we’re not exploiting them, commercializing them or (as is the case in certain types of travel) ignoring them?
While sustainability in tourism is completely necessary, I think the focus is too narrow and needs to be adjusted to also recognize the people who live in communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, climate change and tourism, either the lack of it or the over-abundance of it.
Remember Venice, Italy? The ultra-popular destination had welcomed hoards of tourists, especially cruise tourists, each year before the pandemic, leading to overcrowding and, in some cases, destruction of the historic area and even loss of life.
Despite the residents asking government officials for years to cap the number of tourists to the city to a more manageable crowd, it took a global pandemic and the virtual halt of all tourism before the government chose to take action. The new capacity rules are expected to take effect sometime in 2022 or 2023.
Other destinations, including those designated by the UN as Small Island Developing Nations (SIDS) like St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Jamaica and others, rely on tourism as one of their main economic drivers yet struggle with gaining access to necessary vaccines that could not only save lives but also bring recovery to the nations’ travel industries.
This is an excerpt from an article by Lacey pfalz, originally published by Travel Pulse.