Why Sustainable Travel Matters to Tour Operators

22 Aug 2019     |    Blake Ng

Traveling is a favorite pastime for people of all ages. From families who want to introduce their young children to the rest of the world to retired couples who want to spend their golden years exploring new destinations, almost everyone finds travel to be an enjoyable and memorable activity. While the number of travelers is increasing among all market segments, these same groups of people are becoming more conscientious of how they travel. Sustainable tourism is becoming more and more relevant for all tourism brands.

What is sustainable tourism?

Sustainable tourism practices

Sustainable tourism is the practice of visiting a region and making a conscious effort to minimize the damage to the local environment and the local people. For example, sustainable travel practices should ensure that visitors can explore a new destination without compromising the integrity of the local area’s culture or its environment. Ideally, both travelers and tourism businesses will adopt sustainable travel practices in order to improve the health of the destination for the months and years to come.

Why sustainable travel matters to tour operators

Sustainable travel as practiced by tour operators

Sustainable travel matters to tour operators for a variety of reasons:

  • Sustainable travel helps to protect the destination where the tour operator is based. Many tour operators prioritize sustainable travel because they want to protect the area where they live and work. A sustainable tour operator conducts tours and activities that do not inflict harm on the local people, the area wildlife or the nearby environment.
  • Sustainable travel practices appeal to motivated travelers. When a tour operator increases their commitment to sustainable travel, they will likely appeal to a broader range of travelers. This will increase their bookings and help grow their brand both locally and globally.
  • Sustainable travel practices provide tour operators with an opportunity to offer experiences that are more authentic. Rather than driving around in a tour bus hitting the most famous attractions, sustainable tour operators will use eco-friendly vehicles to allow their tourists to enjoy an activity that is local to the area.

How tour operators can Commit to sustainable travel

Sustainable travel commitment

There are several steps tour operators can take to increase their commitment to sustainable travel. These efforts include:

  • Eliminating waste whenever possible. Encourage tourists to bring their own refillable water bottles, and do not offer cups that include lids or straws. Do not offer supplies that can harm the local environment.
  • Offering authentic local experiences. Provide tourists with an opportunity to experience the region rather than just see it.
  • Encouraging visitors to check out local restaurants and shop at local stores. Promote the local economy as much as possible.

Becoming a sustainable tour operator does take time and effort, however, the best way to get there is to start. You don’t have to wait to become a large corporation with plenty of resources to start, the first steps don’t require a large investment of your time or resources. In most cases, all it takes is a few simple adjustments to minimize your ecological footprint and increase your sustainability. The efforts that you make will appeal to travelers across all demographics because sustainability is becoming increasingly important to nearly every market segment.

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Image credit: Noah Buscher