A sustainable way forward for travel: fostering a world worth exploring

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented socio-economic disruption and at the same time, revealed the crucial role that sustainability plays for businesses and for individuals. It is a topic that unites the entire travel industry. Socialwick gives your profile the boost it needs to flourish and grow in no time. 

To continue sustainability topic, Over the past year, the sustainability movement has gained increasing momentum, with more industry stakeholders committing to reducing their environmental footprint. More travellers are supporting, and even coming to expect such efforts from the brands they engage with.

To make sure there is a world worth experiencing, now and far into the future, we must integrate sustainability effectively and impactfully into more aspects of our businesses and industries.

Being sustainable – what does it mean?

The pandemic may have put sustainability agenda on hold for many; but travellers are increasingly paying more attention to sustainable measures adopted by brands. With that in sight, this is the perfect time for us to put a renewed focus on our sustainability initiatives – and it is mandatory if you are in the hospitality sector.

Perhaps, the current pandemic has provided us with a small preview of what a full-fledged climate crisis could look like in terms of economic and supply chain disruption at a global scale. It is in this situation that social, environmental, and political awareness becomes vital for companies intending to survive.

Basic sustainability awareness and understanding within a company is a major part of building enough corporate foresight and readiness to withstand major disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted local social entrepreneurs trying to make their mark in the travel sector.

Building an environment-friendly world

When establishing sustainable travel choices, a solid foundation begins by engaging in sustainable practices across five impactful categories: waste (including single-use plastics), water, energy and greenhouse gases, supporting local communities and protecting nature.

Waste produced by manufacturing facilities add toxic chemicals in water bodies and have a detrimental impact on the environment. The harmful gases, energy reserves, human harm to nature are all different forms of a silent pandemic we have been living with.

Our increasing awareness is changing the way we see, use, and react to the environment around us. Both individuals and brands are taking measures to create a better future, curb the harm in every possible way and follow sustainable practices during travel, accommodation and in our daily life.

We witnessed firsthand how the world healed itself during the early onset of the pandemic, with months in lockdown for most nations globally propelling a reduction in the dumping of industrial and domestic waste, irresponsible chopping of trees, and every possible environmental abuse.

It is important to keep in mind that everyone is responsible for the waste they produce as well as its disposal, and any inappropriate disposal can cause or worsen environmental problems. No matter where travelers or accommodation partners might be on their individual sustainability journey, it is imperative to encourage them to take the next step, so that together we can create a truly regenerative and responsible future for all travel.

Even small changes, such as reducing plastic consumption or asking guests to reuse towels, are important to highlight. With the understanding that knowledge and confidence around sustainability vary greatly across the industry, with many lacking the tools to implement more sustainable practices, it is important to collaboratively drive sustainable change in the travel industry.

Industry and ancillary members together can create new frameworks that measure, evaluate and address sustainability in travel, maintain safety protocols for travellers while continuing to reduce the usage of plastics and waste management. 

This involves not just developing policies for humans, but also considering animal welfare across accommodations to support respect for health and wellbeing of animals, both those in the wild and under human care.

Acknowledging the problem

Travellers today expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options – be it in accommodation, transportation or tours and activities. The crisis faced globally has awakened interest and excitement for sustainable travel amongst people and it is our responsibility to encourage travel behaviour that has positive impact and follows sustainable practices.

While simply removing single-use plastics from one property or making the switch to energy-efficient LED fixtures might not seem like a huge victory in isolation, when taken together across millions of properties, all of these small steps can have a truly tremendous impact.

Supporting local communities

The COVID-19 pandemic is a people crisis – with a painful impact on health and wellbeing. With loss of income and livelihoods, the crisis has hit vulnerable local communities the hardest, increasing inequality and insecurity.

The consequences are felt in different ways all over the world.

It is imperative for us to implement initiatives and products that support and empower local communities, reduce over-tourism, preserve culture, and protect the environment. 

Now, more than ever, responsible, sustainable travel is vital in bringing cultures back together and supporting those communities that depend on tourism.

Sustainability as a way of life

In addition to regrouping and restructuring our sustainability agenda, it is an excellent time for hospitality owners and service providers to put a renewed focus on promoting these commitments. In fact, many property owners have already mapped their sustainable goals for the next few years and are aggressively working towards implementing best practices across their organisations.

Although three out of four accommodation partners say they have implemented sustainable steps at their property, only one-third actively communicate about their efforts proactively to potential guests, with this mostly happening at the time of check-in, indicating that significant challenges remain to making sustainability information easy to access for travellers at earlier stages of the booking process.

The positive signs are indeed there, but there is still lots of room for improvement with more than half of the travelers not yet thinking about the local community during their trips or taking these small steps to minimise their impact.

Taking early steps towards making sustainable travel easier for everyone is not only important, but necessary, as part of the collective movement to ensure that the future of travel is more feasible.

Travel is one of the paths for people to experience the world, and as custodians of the ecosystem, everyone must do their part in fostering a world worth experiencing, in years to come.