Kind Traveler polled over 1,000 customers and interviewed 64 partner hotels, organizations, and locations from sixteen countries to identify ten trends affecting the future of impact tourism in its 2022 Impact Tourism Report.
As Lacey Pfalz reports, a staggering 96 per cent of those polled said it’s “slightly important,” “fairly important,” “important,” or “very important” that the money they spend on vacation has a positive influence wherever they go.
Nearly half of all respondents (48 per cent) said that obtaining sustainable lodging was the most challenging component of traveling sustainably. In comparison, another 37 per cent said that lowering or eliminating their carbon footprint was the most challenging part of sustainable travel.
As responsible and sustainable travel continues to develop, ten main trends shaping impact tourism identified in the research are projected to take center stage.
1 Creative Ways to Motivate Giving
Hotels can have a significant impact on the communities where they are located by participating in community initiatives such as:
- Hosting on-site experiences for guests who benefit from these projects
- Recommending experiences and tours that have a direct impact on local communities
- Serving sustainably sourced foods or selling locally made products
2 Transparency is essential
Hotels and other travel and tourism businesses must become more open as travelers become interested in sustainability measures and metrics.
When companies make statistics and specifics available about their:
- Waste reduction
- Renewable energy
- Sustainability initiatives
- Philanthropic activities
Passengers are not only aware of these programs, but they may also be the deciding factor in a guest’s decision to stay at one hotel over another.
More importantly, it allows visitors to participate in these programs, whether it’s by helping to plant young coral in a coral nursery or supplying them with reusable water bottles to reduce single-use plastics.
3 Catalysts for Destination Wellbeing
It’s not just about making a destination appealing to tourists: it’s about making it appealing to everyone, including locals and animals.
Hotels have a responsibility to partner with local charities to empower local communities to do good, whether it’s through:
- Hiring or training at-risk communities
- Championing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives
- Providing training to combat human trafficking
- Offering guests voluntourism activities
- Supporting conservation and wildlife regeneration projects
4 Become Regenerative Powerhouses
Every year, hotels and resorts employ hundreds of people and welcome thousands of visitors. What an excellent opportunity if they also focused on educating guests and employees about sustainability initiatives such as banning single-use plastics, serving only locally sourced food and switching to renewable energy.
Hotels and resorts can make an impact that lasts longer than a guest’s stay from:
- Serving invasive fish species in tropical regions
- Building schools
- Giving courses for visitors to learn how to upcycle ordinary household goods
5 Measurable Sustainability Metrics
Offering verifiable sustainability metrics lets visitors understand the effect of a hotel’s activities over time. They also allow a hotel or resort readily measure what else needs to be achieved and what other projects they should pursue.
Measuring energy use at a resort, for example, may lead to a better understanding of how renewable energy might affect and reduce energy prices and carbon emissions.
6 Supporting Charities
Many NGOs throughout the world have lost funds due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the CAF America Report, 91 per cent of charities experienced “devastating” financial losses due to the pandemic, which might take years to recover. However, from a lack of government funding to labor shortages, the tourism industry should be ready to engage with these struggling nonprofits.
7 Charities Create Positive Impact Experiences
Partnerships with charities may provide tourists with long-lasting, memorable, and pleasant experiences. Meditating with sheep, participating in animal conservation projects such as river cleaning, or participating in a cultural immersion activity are just a few examples. These may help support local projects, charities, and communities while also offering travelers unique experiences.
8 Strategic Partners are Key Motivators
Pandemics aren’t the only reason to become virtual. By utilizing social media and holding virtual events, the audience of a charity or initiative can expand.
Hotels, resorts and tour operators can host virtual events or publish materials that promote their responsible travel services and collaborations, allowing guests to learn about these critical problems before arriving at the hotel.
9 Destinations are a Valuable Resource
Sustainability should be a priority for the entire destination. Cities and countries should provide a broader range of educational materials, resources and tools for tourists to explore while they compare destinations. It will also assist travel consultants that specialize in sustainable tourism.
10 Pledges of Stewardship
Stewardship promises are tied to a destination’s sustainability goals and accessible resources. More destinations are expected to make their stewardship pledges this year. They will commit to more sustainable practices, greater transparency, and providing visitors with the opportunity to go green by committing to reduce single-use plastic consumption while in the destination or participating in at least one voluntourism initiative.
The tourism industry bears a special obligation to the communities and environments that it affects. So as we follow on from Earth Day 2022, tourists, hotels and resorts should keep impact tourism in mind.
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Source: Kind Travel, Travel Pulse