Tourism

Virtuoso MD: Sustainability should be cultural

Ali Coulton

Today is significant for two reasons:

Number one: It’s FRIDAY!

Jim-Halpert-Yes

And number two: It’s Earth day!

Well.. sort of. It’s earth day on Sunday, but we won’t be in the office on Sunday for obvious reasons, so we’ve decided to celebrate two days early.

And what better way to celebrate earth day that to talk about sustainable travel!

Leading luxury and experiential travel network Virtuoso is also celebrating sustainable travel, by sharing some findings from it’s 2018 Virtuoso Luxe Report indicating a rising interest in sustainable tourism vacations among travel network’s clients.

Virtuoso advisors report while many of their clients do factor in sustainable tourism practices, it’s millennials that are leading the way.

Millennials are three times more likely to seek out and support travel companies that are committed to sustainable tourism than second place Generation X.

Coming in third is the Baby Boomers, closely followed by Generation Z, but according to Virtuoso, as Gen Z comes of age and their purchasing power increases, they’ll probably mirror if not exceed the Millennials in their support of travel that enhances destinations and cultures.

Backpackers Examine an Edible Orange Mushroom while Hiking Through Forest

We sat down with the luxury travel network’s Asia Pacific Managing Director, Michael Londregan to find out more about the company’s ideas around sustainable travel.

“What’s really interesting is that sustainability was this niche concept a number of years ago where people would say ‘oh look, we recycle our towels’ that was about the extent of it,” he told us.

“But now we’re starting to explore these new avenues of sustainability.”

“There’s this new idea around sustainability being cultural; are we actually ruining the cultural footprint of where we’re going? And are the cultures and the people that are actually in the places we go being affected? Is that becoming unsustainable?”

“I really like this idea because I think travel and tourism is a wonderful way to get to know other cultures, but there are impacts of that.”

According to the report, Virtuoso advisors also expressed concern about some of the impacts they are witnessing in popular travel destinations.

Things like climate change; rising sea levels that threaten coastal cities, like New Orleans, and entire countries, including the Maldives; as well as the increased popularity of archaeological sites such as Machu Picchu that attract millions of visitors every year.

If we go somewhere and entirely ruin a geography of a culture we’re not going to be able to make up for that by not washing the towels every day,” Londregan said.

“We have to have the view that we want to sustain things in a holistic way, not in a compensatory way, so don’t behave badly then try and behave well just to make up for it.”

Londregan told us the industry also needs to be conscious of over tourism.

“For a long time there’s been this idea that more tourism is always better than less tourism, but actually I think we’re getting to the point where we’re working out it’s finding the right size tourism that’s actually critical and certainly not more is better than less.”

“There is a right amount of people that should be snorkelling on a reef, there is a right amount of people that should come into a local community before it gets damaged, there is a right amount that can come into a community before they use all the resources.”

Virtuoso is also helping to raise awareness around sustainable tourism through its annual Sustainability Summit, which promotes examples of best practices among travel companies and educates member agencies, staff and consumers.


Do you have something to say on this? Get in touch with Travel Weekly Editor Ali Coulton here to share your thoughts.

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