Sustainable Travel in the 21st Century
Over the past few decades there has been explosive growth in global tourism. To put it in perspective, in 2018, there were 1.6 billion tourist arrivals across the planet. That number is expected to rise to 1.8 billion in 2020. However, this growth does come at an environmental cost.
I am not advocating for a limit to tourism – I do believe that this growth is positive on many levels, such as how it impacts the increase in economic development. But I feel strongly that environmentally conscious travel is the solution to our massive growth in tourism.
What is Sustainable Travel?
You may have heard the term ‘Sustainable Travel’, which has been a hot phrase in the travel industry for over a decade. Sustainable Travel is conducting travel in a manner that respects the environment, people, wildlife, and culture of the places that you visit. The goal of sustainable travel is not just to minimize one’s impact when traveling but to take it a step further and to have a positive effect on the destination through conservation and humanitarian projects. With increasing concerns around over-tourism and the climate crisis, many travel companies have incorporated key changes to offer clients the most sustainable way to travel.
Here are just a few examples:
- Offset My Carbon Footprint – The goal of carbon offsetting your travel is to balance the carbon dioxide footprint of one’s trip. An example would be to plant the number of trees which would remove the associated amount of C02 from the atmosphere that a traveler incurred by flying to a destination and also participating in the trip.
- Activity Restrictions – Limits placed on the number of trekking permits for certain trails. For example, in Alaska, 50 hikers per day are permitted to enter into the famed Chilkoot Trail. And in Peru, only 200 trekkers per day are permitted to begin hiking on the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu route.
- Trail Maintenance Programs – On the Inca Trail in Peru, in order to help preserve their sacred sites from overuse, the government of Peru closes the Inca Trail for all of February each year for maintenance and restoration.
- Travel Bans on Single Use Plastics – Companies are encouraging their guests to bring their own water bottles, which can be used throughout the duration of the trip.
- Eco-friendly hotels – Many eco friendly hotels across the globe are increasing their use of renewable energy to power their electricity needs. An example would be a hotel that relies on solar panels for their energy generation.
While eco friendly tourism has made huge advancements within the travel industry, more can still be done. At The Explorer’s Passage, our goal is to revolutionize the way people think about sustainable travel. Not only do we incorporate the many great things that other green travel operators are doing, but we have taken it a step further and have set the standard for sustainable travel for all other companies to model themselves after.
The Explorer’s Passage offsets 1.25x the travel carbon footprint of all of our trips globally. In 2018, we launched the Arctic Carbon Negative Initiative (ACNI), which called for all ship operators in the Arctic to offset 1.25x of C02 emissions. We have since expanded this protocol to our other destinations across the globe and have provided tools for our client’s to assist them with the offsetting flights to balance their carbon footprint of flying.
Our C02 offset reduction program is conducted through participation in a number of renewable energy and environmental projects. These include (but are not limited to) wind farms, hydro projects, solar panel fields, and tree plantings. We have set the standard for sustainable travel companies to take responsibility to offset carbon emissions in creative and thoughtful ways.
Strongest Guide Standards
The Explorer’s Passage maintains the strongest guide standards and destination due diligence procedures in the global travel industry. We go through an exhaustive process when launching a new destination to ensure our sustainable travel programs are conducted in the most diligent way possible.
We encourage all tour companies across the planet to follow these guidelines, and are happy to share them upon request. From the guides we employ, to the eco friendly hotels we stay at, to the vehicles we utilize, we ensure that all aspects of our operations are held to the highest standard.
Sustainable Travel Education Programs
Each year we provide a number of experiences that are centered around sustainability and education. Through our strategic partnership with 2041 ClimateForce, we conduct sustainability education programs in Antarctica, Tanzania, and Iceland that focus on climate change, sustainability, and leadership education.
The renowned polar explorer Robert Swan, OBE, the Founder of the 2041 Mission and the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles, is the father of sustainable travel. He has been incorporating sustainability education programs in his expeditions for over 20 years. We are proud to partner with Robert Swan and his son Barney Swan on these transformative expeditions, which produce global environmental champions. Through the use of workshops, world-class speakers, networking, and deeply immersive environmental education programs, our team members return home transformed and ready to make a difference in the world.
Bridging Environmental Education Programs and Adventure
On many of our expeditions across the globe we provide our team members with the opportunity to participate in environmental education programs as part of their adventure. We have seen that this provides our team members with an authentic and immersive experience that allows them to participate in the impact.
One example of this kind of project is the tree plantings we conduct in Moshi, Tanzania, before our Mount Kilimanjaro climbs. Throughout the year, tree plantings are done in partnership with 2041 ClimateForce and Jane Goodall’s Global Youth Program Roots and Shoots. This is in response to massive deforestation in the Mount Kilimanjaro region, which is believed to be a major cause of climate change in the area, due to a change in the atmosphere. We are doing our part to provide environmental education to our guests, but to also have an impact on the local environment where we travel. To watch a video of a tree planting we did in February 2019 with one of our groups, Jane Goodall, and Barney Swan please click HERE!
Leave No Trace
We are a member of a wonderful global organization based in the United States called Leave No Trace International. Their mission is to educate people to respect nature and when we enter to leave it alone as it was. Their 7 Principles of Leave No Trace are:
- Plan Ahead & Prepare
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors
As you can see, at The Explorer’s Passage we continue to be the leader in sustainable travel. Please follow us as we explore new ideas and new trips to market that put sustainability travel at the core of everything we do.
If you would like to learn more about our sustainable travel adventures click HERE or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We would love to meet you on our next adventure!
The Explorer’s Passage