Sustainability expert and travel writer based in London.

Is 2018 the year of action for sustainable travel?, Pebble

Is 2018 the year of action for sustainable travel?, Pebble

Last week Holly Tuppen attended the World Travel and Tourism Council’s sustainable travel awards — Tourism for Tomorrow — to find out what trends are leading the way and how we can do our bit. 

Along with the words ‘luxury’ and ‘organic’, the term ‘sustainable travel’ is becoming so overused, it’s in danger of meaning nothing at all.  

Hot on the heels of consumer demand for brands that ‘do good’, bandwagon-jumpers (from the hotel chains expanding so fast it’s hard to keep up, to the bloggers posting photos of themselves riding elephants with hashtags like #saveourelephants) are in danger of putting everyone off. 

So how can you identify what’s genuine?

The Tourism for Tomorrow Awards is a good benchmark. Organised by the World Travel and Tourism Council, a panel of judges including academics and experts collectively spend more than 100 hours assessing applications. 

While interviewing the fifteen finalists last week, some common and heartening characteristics stood out; embracing the grassroots, long-term commitment (over a period of 10 years or more) and putting purpose before self.

If 2017 was the year of sustainable travel awareness (partly thanks to the UNWTO’s ‘Year of Sustainable Travel’ campaign), 2018 should be the year of action. 

Here’s how the Tourism for Tomorrow finalists are leading the charge:

Designing ‘impact travel’ experiences

Move over transformational experiences and eco-travel; the next trend is ‘impact travel’ where the very act of travelling has a positive impact on people and the environment. 

Winner of this year’s Tourism for Tomorrow community award, Global Himalayan Expedition proves that the simplest ideas are often the most effective. 

Since 2015 Paras Loomba has been leading trekking groups to remote Himalayan villages to install solar micro-grids, often to a chorus of tears and laughter as villagers see electric light for the first time. 

If hiking up the world’s highest mountains sounds a little strenuous, TREE Alliance might be more up your street. TREE identifies children-at-risk in locations throughout South East Asia to provide them with support and work skills. TREE's restaurants facilitate the process — profits go to support networks and employees are mostly former street-kids training on the job. 

Read the full article on Pebble

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