Sustainability has become a major buzzword in the travel industry. What does it mean to you and why is it important?
Sustainability is critical to the future of our industry and the planet. Climate change is real and is impacting us all over the world, but it is addressable.
If we make changes now to the way we consume products, the way we spend our money, and the way we travel, we can change the trajectory we are on. I’m a very passionate supporter of the World Wildlife Fund and the work they are doing to protect environments and animals is something I believe is hugely important.
What practical eco-conscious steps can travellers take to support sustainable travel?
The easiest and most obvious is to offset your carbon footprint. Many airlines now offer the chance to do that when you book a flight, and there are numerous organisations that have calculators so you can see the impact you have.
There are local communities around the world that haven't yet embraced sustainability as a way of life and in, a crucial way, a means of self-preservation. How does travel communicate the importance of sustainability without being patronising?
I think context is the most important thing to understand when talking about sustainable development through tourism. If a family has no food or a safe place to live, talking about recycling or offsetting carbon does not respect the situation they are in. The travel industry has the power to change this as travellers invest their dollars into projects that create amazing travel experiences and put money into local economies. I strongly recommend people to look out for ways to do this.
Eat at local restaurants, hire local guides, buy local products, and venture outside your hotel as the money you spend when you travel can change people’s lives. In Rwanda (I saw this first hand visiting gorillas), the guides and those who worked at the National Park had been poachers who were taught the power of protecting the animals and generating income through tourism instead of poaching.
They did not poach because they wanted to; they had no other way to survive. The development of sustainable tourism enabled them to protect the environments that now give them so much more than they had before.