4 myths about sustainable tourism debunked

Green travel isn’t as hard as you think.

Green travel and sustainable tourism are complex topics. But they’re also an essential part of any travel advisor’s strategy to building a reliable, responsible business that serves a growing market of eco-conscious travelers.

You probably have some preconceptions about sustainable tourism, but let us tell you, it’s not as hard as you think. Here are a few of the most common myths about green and sustainable travel debunked:

1. The myth: ‘Promoting sustainable tourism will put travelers off’

Lots of people think that talking green travel and sustainable tourism will bore travelers. There are, of course, people who are uninterested in sustainability, or some that just don’t know about the concept of sustainability. But research by Skift actually shows that the majority of people think booking vacations through business with sustainable practices is important. Further to this, around 50% of them say they’d also pay more for it.

4 myths about sustainable tourism debunked

"Research in the UK has also shown that the number of people who say a company’s sustainability credentials matter has doubled in the last four years, too. So rather than putting people off, offering sustainable options and educating travelers on the sustainability of their vacations could well bring you new business instead. "

You can find more insight into why sustainable tourism is an essential part of a travel advisor’s business strategy with our latest eBook: Sustainable tourism: everything travel agents need to know about green travel.

2. The myth: ‘Sustainable and eco-friendly travel is more expensive’

A common thought is that to be sustainable, you have to spend more. It’s probably perpetuated by the proliferation of high-end ‘eco-friendly’ products now available in all sorts of retail sectors. But in travel, it’s a little different. Budget accommodation and transport options actually tend to be some of the least impactful when it comes to the environment. 

4 myths about sustainable tourism debunked

Taking the bus or train over hiring a car is, more often than not, far more environmentally friendly and will mean your client’s carbon footprint is reduced. Smaller, independent hotels, lodges, motels and B&Bs are often more carbon-efficient too – plus, putting money into the independent properties is brilliant for the local economy, which is another aspect of sustainability. 

The likelihood is, those high-end, huge resorts are going to be more wasteful with things like energy and water, and their profits will go back to large corporations rather than directly into the local economy. Lots of the big brands do have their own sustainability schemes, though.

Download our eBook, Sustainable tourism: everything travel agents need to know about green travel, to find out more about who’s making a difference.

3. The myth: ‘You can’t take flights if you want to be sustainable’

This is a complicated one. The fact is, flying is bad for the environment, and people are well aware of this. Over 20% of all transport-related carbon emissions are a result of tourism, and a large chunk of that is likely to be aviation-based. The latest ‘flygskam’ movement, which is Swedish for ‘flight-shame’, has seen celebrities in Sweden and beyond buy into the idea that flying is a shameful act. Greta Thunberg has endorsed the concept, vowing never to fly again. For many people, flying has simply gone out of fashion. 

4 myths about sustainable tourism debunked

But plenty of people are still flying – and that’s not terrible news. Sending your clients to far-flung destinations like Kenya, Vietnam or even the Caribbean can be a huge support to the local people. Many countries rely on tourism for their economy. In the Maldives, tourism makes up almost 40% of their economy, and almost a third of the economy in Macau in China relies on the travel industry. And so instead of shunning flights altogether, flying more sustainably is an option.

"Carbon off-setting schemes are available to help alleviate some of the impacts of flights, and ensuring your clients take the most direct route will be a huge help – as 25% of flight emissions come from the takeoff and landing procedures."

 

4. The myth: ‘Sustainable travel is hard.’

Not true. Sustainable travel literally couldn’t be easier, as our latest eBook – Sustainable tourism: everything travel agents need to know about green travel – explores. There are lots of little things you can do for your clients that add up to making a big impact. 

4 myths about sustainable tourism debunked

Don’t book private airport transfers, book a shared shuttle instead. That way there’ll be fewer cars on the road and fewer emissions in the atmosphere. Or, encourage eco-friendly, carbon-neutral activities like hiking and cycling. 

Download our eBook to find more sustainable travel ideas: Sustainable tourism: everything travel agents need to know about green travel.

 

Sources: 

  1. What is flygskam? Greta speaks up about 'flight-shaming'; BBC

  2. Revealed: the countries that rely most on your money; The Telegraph

  3. Tourism is four-times worse for the climate than we thought; New Scientist

  4. ABTA Travel Trends report 2019; ABTA

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