As Travelbinger predicted last year, Covid-19 would change the way we travel and bring light to sustainable travel. There’s been a global awakening on the climate crisis, and travelers are showing more interest in ways to travel responsibly. Travelbinger spoke to Jessica Blotter, CEO and Co-Founder of Kind Traveler, on three sustainable travel trends you can expect for 2021.
3 Sustainable Travel Trends for 2021, According to Kind Traveler
- Impact Travel as a Pathway to Regenerate Communities
Impact Travel is defined by the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) as “tourism that makes strategic contributions of time, talent, and treasure to social and environmental projects in destinations. This includes tourism businesses, travelers, and organizations in partnerships with host communities.” Its goal is to “ensure healthy communities are the basis for a healthy tourism sector.”
Impact travel can be a meaningful pathway to regenerate and heal communities that have been economically devasted from Covid-19. This becomes especially important when you consider 60M individuals are facing extreme poverty because of the pandemic according to World Bank (erasing all poverty alleviation efforts made over the last three years).
Furthermore, as demonstrated in Booking’s 2020 Global Research Report, 55 percent of travelers want to see how their travel dollars are going back into the community as demonstrated in the ‘Impact Awakening’ trend. Impact travel will be a powerful tool to heal communities while fulfilling the need travelers have to positively impact the communities they visit.
One example of impact travel in action is through Kind Traveler’s Give + Get hotel booking model where travelers give a $10 nightly donation to a locally vetted charity that positively impacts the community, and in return, receive exclusive rate and perks from Kind Hotels. 100% of donations go to charity creating a triple win. A $10 donation can go a long way. For example, in Sonoma County, it can provide 20 nutritious meals to in-need individuals with the Redwood Empire Food Bank, help clean 250 lbs. of trash out of the Russian River with Russian Riverkeeper or help maintain one mile of hiking trail with Sonoma Land Trust.
For more examples of meaningful impact travel opportunities, check out CREST’s Impact Tourism Handbook.
- Plant-Based Travel to Advance Climate Activism
It’s a known fact that livestock are responsible for about 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In addition to being the largest greenhouse gas emitter, the livestock sector is also the number one cause of biodiversity loss and habitat destruction.
The tourism industry alone contributes to 8% of global greenhouses gases (Nature). With the climate crisis as the biggest threat to the tourism industry as reflected in the Center for Responsible Travel’s ‘The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends and Statistics 2020,’ the need for climate friendly travel and lifestyle has never been greater.
Beyond carbon offsetting, choosing carbon friendly ways to travel and avoiding plastics and committing to zero waste throughout the travel journey, one of the biggest ways to fight the climate crisis is to eat more plant-based foods.
From plant-based hotels, restaurants, menus, and itineraries, plant-based or vegan travel, we will continue to see innovative advances in this sector in 2021 and beyond.
One example of plant-based innovation is taking in place in California’s Sonoma County, knowing all too well the impact of climate change. Wine Country 2.0 was launched by Sonoma-based Miyoko’s (world changing cheese and butter made from plant milk) as a resource to discover vegan wine, culinary indulgences, and experiences. The mission is to unleash the ‘New World’ spirit of California’s pioneering wine region to ‘meet the demands of the changing climate and the changing tastes and expectations of today’s conscious visitors and guests.’
- Travelers will choose destinations committed to sustainability, land and wildlife conservation, and equality
Beyond traveling sustainably from A to Z, choosing an accommodation committed to socially and environmentally conscious practices, supporting local businesses and ethical tour operators, and practicing responsible travel behaviors (leave no trace, be kind, etc.), travelers will also seek to visit destinations who share and advance the same values.
For example, we will see DMOs (destination marketing organizations) move to DSOs (destination stewardship organizations) to affirm commitments to protect natural landscapes for future generations (as in the case of Sonoma County Tourism). We will also see more destination’s launch responsible travel codes and pledges such as Visit California’s Responsible Travel Code and North Lake Tahoe’s educational guide, Know Before You Go. Destinations will also launch sustainable travel directories such as the guide found on the website of Fort Myers and Sanibel Beaches in celebrating its sustainable hotels, activities, nonprofits, and more.
Lastly, destinations that advance and promote equality and its diversity of people and cultures will be sought after. Educational guides such as Sonoma County’s Guide to Black-Owned Businesses will serve as important tools to creating a more equal and sustainable future.
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