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Sustainable tourism: a passing fad or way of life?

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Far from the new fangled concept that many see it to be, sustainable tourism has been a developing notion since the 1960s and the green movement.

With people slowly growing to understand the consequences that their lifestyle inflicts upon the environment, it’s a term that envelopes an industry committed to reducing environmental and cultural impact whilst generating income for the locality.

To put it simply, it’s an idea that preserves the world. An idea that means your grandchildren will be able to experience the same beautiful locations that you have had the privilege of visiting.

It’s really about tourism that is simply better. Better for destinations, better for people, better for the environment – Sue Hurdle, chief executive of the Travel Foundation

It would be impossible to explain sustainable tourism without mentioning carbon offsetting – a topic that over the past few years has grown in popularity with its constant portrayal in the media. It is however, sometimes seen as somewhat of a quick-fix for travel’s dark side. Chairman of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), Chris Breen described it as “only a small part of the picture”.

There’s a mis-portrayal in the media that sustainable tourism can only be achieved by boycotting planes and long distance trips, swapping luxury for rustic, and not touching the “real” parts of the world. But this is a myth.

Sustainable tourism is not about making a list of things we cannot do; it’s about improving the ways in which we do them, and ensuring that in 20 years times, those opportunities will still be present.

It wasn’t that long ago that travel by plane was an exciting new adventure, where people flocked to home-away-from-home replicas and were amazed merely by the change in climate. But as people began to take travel for granted, demands have also changed. “People now, do want something more than just go abroad”, according to Wild Frontiers founder, Jonny Bealby.

Wild Frontiers, Adventure Alternative, Responsible Travel and Authentic Travel are just a few examples of travel companies that now specialise in ethical holidays, a type of vacation with much more to gain than a tan. As a culture, we are becoming more aware of our lifestyle choices, and with green businesses, organic produce, energy saving schemes, and hefty awareness projects implemented through schools, sustainable tourism is a logical step that goes hand in hand with people’s desire to feel proud of themselves for these small considerations.

I think the word ‘sustainable’ talks about the future, whereas responsible doesn’t necessarily take that into account – Chris Breen, chairman of AITO

Another uphill battle that sustainable tourism struggles against is pricing. It seems that the assumption is that as soon the words ‘experience’ or ‘eco-friendly’ are associated with our vacation, we assume it’ll incur a higher cost. But the tourism industry realises the current high demand placed on value for money, and like any other industry, tailors its services to the desires of its clientele, constantly striving to keep sustainable tourism an accessible option to all.

Trekking through Kenya or Costa Rica, visiting the 10,000 miles of coast in Australia, experiencing life in Africa, or riding through some of the most remote locations on the globe doesn’t have to (literally) cost the Earth. In fact, as sustainable tourism is built on the concept of reinvestment, it’s likely to be one of the only vacations you will encounter where you will be able to see where each of your pennies was spent!

With tourism the principle export in 30% of developing countries, sustainable tourism can guide that money into the right hands. A clear difference between the idea of responsible tourism and sustainable tourism is the strong focus on reinvestment and the preservation of not only the environment, but the people, the traditions, and the industry itself.

I think ‘sustainable tourism’ is a difficult concept because we all know there are parts of tourism that are inherently unsustainable – Justin Francis, managing director of Responsible Travel

It’s true that people, the Earth, and demands will change, as there will always be uncontrollable aspects to consider. But as Chris Breen says, “If a company cannot be bothered to offer sustainable holidays, by definition it must have a limited lifespan. If what a company is offering is destroying the very place it relies upon, then the product is finite”. This is where Sustainable Tourism strikes home.

With a philosophy that not only reduces the negative effects of our travel, but increases the positive ones for both client and company alike, it’s hard to argue with the logic behind it. And with high value placed on reinvesting into the industry, locality, and culture – the aspects that make a trip truly unique – you can be sure that sustainable tourism is no passing fad.

For a more in-depth look into the industry, and to hear the thoughts of some of the sector’s leading lights, download Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Tourism for free.

Joanna Keeton is in the final year of an advertising and PR degree at the University of Lincoln. She has a keen interest in pursuing a career in journalism and events, and has a passion for travel and writing. 

Joanna Keeton is in the final year of an advertising and PR degree at the University of Lincoln. She has a keen interest in pursuing a career in journalism and events, and has a passion for travel and writing.

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Green Weddings Trend: Why 70% of Newlyweds Are Going Green

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A couple of months ago, my best friend got married to her new husband. They are both very eco-conscious people, so they decided to have a unique twist on their wedding. They asked for the following:

  • They arranged a carpool with their friends.
  • They didn’t have any balloons. Instead they used umbrellas.
  • They used plant materials instead of plastic confetti.
  • My friend insisted her husband not purchase a diamond. In addition to being ecologically conscious, she didn’t like the idea of having a stone that was used in conflict zones.

My friends aren’t the only ones making these changes. In fact, nearly a quarter of all newlyweds are organizing green weddings.

Green Weddings Are Becoming the Norm

People are more concerned about green living than ever before. They are trying to incorporate environmental protectionist ideas into every facet of their lives, even the most intimate, such as marriage. A growing number of people are trying to have green weddings, which can make a big difference in reducing their carbon footprint.

How much of a difference can this make? Here are some statistics to bear in mind:

There are a number ofreasons that green weddings are becoming more important. Here are a few.

People Are More Worried About Environmental Preservation than Ever Before

Green living in general is becoming a greater concern for most people. Even younger conservatives are breaking from their older counterparts by insisting on fighting climate change. According to a poll from Pew Research earlier this year, 75% of Americans say that they are very concerned about protecting the environment. Having green weddings is a good way to act on this concern.

One of the biggest changes people are making is using recycled products for their green weddings. This is explained by the research from Pew:

“Overall, 32% of U.S. adults say they are bothered a lot by people throwing away things that could be recycled. Roughly six-in-ten Americans (61%) who say they always try to live in ways that protect the environment say it bothers them “a lot” when others throw away things that could be recycled. Among those who are less focused on environmental protection, only a quarter say it bothers them a lot when others don’t recycle. People who are environmentally conscious are also twice as likely as others to say that seeing someone incorrectly putting trash in recycling bins bothers them a lot (42% vs. 21%).”

Indifferent Politicians Are Driving them to Take More Initiative

Many politicians in power have been very hesitant to take action on climate change. Many of them have openly stated that it is a hoax. These politicians are forcing people to do what they can in their own lives to make a difference. Making small changes, such as hosting green weddings, is a great way to improve the environment without waiting for political momentum.

Cost and Simplicity

A couple of the biggest reasons that people want to host green weddings have nothing to do with their concern for the environment. Running green weddings is simply cheaper and simpler than having a massive, traditional one. One of the biggest changes is that they are buying green engagement rings from the best brands.

Green Weddings Are the Future

Green weddings have become very popular over the past few years. They will probably account for close to 90% of all marriages by 2025. People that are planning to get married should look into the benefits and plan accordingly.

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Green Tech Start-Ups: Are they the Future?

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Endless innovations are occurring in green companies, reinventing the industries they belong to. Gradually, they are beginning to amass more success and popularity. Consequently, these factors serve as a good indicator for green technology businesses, and their development must begin somewhere.

Green tech start-ups boast a wide array of opportunities for the economy and environment, while boosting recruitment openings with valuable services. While the technology industry is littered with high revenues and competition, the green tech start-ups are the clear sign of a cleaner future.

Fulfilling a Genuine Need

Many tech companies will market themselves as the ultimate tech giants to shift stock and make profit. As they all vie for attention through warped corporate rhetoric, there is only one ethical winner; the start-up green tech company.

Some argue that mainstream tech businesses have grown far too big, branching out into other industries and standing between the consumer and practically everything they do. However, green tech start-ups go beyond the shallow ambitions of a company, answering a call to sincerely help the customer and climate in any way they can. Of course, this is an attractive business model, putting customers at ease as they contribute to a humanitarian cause that is genuine through and through.

After all, empathy is a striking trait to have in business, and green tech start-ups maintain this composure by their very nature and purpose.

Creating Opportunities

Despite the pursuits for clean energy still needing more awareness, green tech is an area that is ripe for contribution and expansion. There’s no need to copy another company or be a business of cheap knockoffs; green tech start-ups can add a new voice to the economy by being fresh, fearless and entrepreneurial.

Technology is at its most useful when it breaks new ground, an awe that eco-friendly innovations have by default in their operations. Of course, green tech start-ups have the chance to build on this foundation and create harmony instead of climate crisis. Ultimately, the tech advancements are what revolutionise clean energy as more than an activist niche, putting theory into practice.

Despite the US gradually becoming more disengaged with green technology, others such as China and Canada recognise the potential in green technology for creating jobs and growth in their respective economies. The slack of others spurs them on, which creates a constant influx of prospects for the green tech sector. Put simply, their services are always required, able to thrive from country to country.

A Fundamental Foresight

Mainstream technology can seem repetitive and dull, tinkering with what has come before rather than turning tech on its head. Since 2011, technology has been accused of stagnation, something which the internet and petty app services seem to disguise in short reaching ideas of creativity.

However, green tech start-ups aren’t just winging it, and operate with a roadmap of climate change in the years ahead to strategize accordingly. In other words, they aren’t simply looking to make a quick profit by sticking to a trend, but have the long-term future in mind. Consequently, the green tech start-up will be there from the very start, building up from the foundational level to only grow as more and more people inevitably go green.

They can additionally forecast their finances too, with the ability to access online platforms despite the differing levels of experience, keeping them in the loop. Consequently, with an eye for the future, green tech startups are the ones who will eventually usher in the new era.

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