Sustainability’s Competitive Advantage

Peoples ethical spending has always been of great interest. After meeting a particular customer I wondered if sustainability was finally becoming part of consumerism… Could it be possible that people are beginning to think of ethics first?

The customers very first question was;

‘I am looking for a responsible holiday where I can make a positive impact on Namibia, how does Responsible Travel’s holidays provide this?‘.

Sustainability and social consciousness has suddenly been given a competitive advantage. So perhaps it is time for businesses to move fluffy, tokenism charity work into real business practices?

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The Responsible Tourist; What Do They Look For?

Many may say the responsible tourist looks for ethics, social consciousness and supporting the local population economically. But really the bottom line is EXPERIENCE. Working in responsible tourism I occasionally get asked about the political, social and economic benefits of the holiday but this always comes second. So what does a responsible tourist look for? What are the most common questions? Here are a few of my regulars…

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Last Chance Tourism; Go Before it’s too late!

93% of corals have been impacted by abnormally warm waters. Coral bleaching has spread around the globe, devastating reef mortality and resulting in a sense of urgency amongst some tourists. A feeling of ‘I have to get there before its too late!’ is sweeping across many travellers. This has created a form of tourism that I have come to loathe the most, ‘last-chance Tourism’. It suggests a feeling of hopelessness, that we are too late and nothing can be done. Conservation soon gets replaced by an acceptance of demise and we extract as much as we can before it disappears. This needs to change and fast!

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The eviction of Tanzania’s tourism pin-ups, the Maasai

It was only early this week that I was discussing how Botswana had relocated San populations to make way for safari parks and tourism. Then a couple of days later I was shocked to hear the Tanzanian government were also planning a similar eviction by removing the Maasai once again. It appears as if the dark side of safari tourism is creeping from out of the shadows. Local populations are relocated to allow tourists to enjoy what Africa has to offer, amazing wildlife views, conserved landscapes and unfortunately in this case the opportunity to hunt.

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Feel Good For Tourism

I have been told by a very wise person that perhaps I should take another look at what I am writing and reconsider my approaches. So I have reassessed … she is completely right.  I work in tourism because I believe it is a tool that can do so much good in the world, so why am I always complaining? Probably because this blog is based on recent things I hear in the news and as you well know, a lot of the things that we see in the news are negative. So lets switch this around and look at the positive in a negative story I heard this week.

The story that shocked me this week was a short documentary called The Elephant in the Room that was possibly inspired by the Blackfish effect. The short documentary investigated captive Elephants across zoos in Europe. I am sure you will agree it is an incredibly sad documentary. In many places we watch elephants in their concrete confines without really considering the cruelty behind it. So what positives can be taken from this story?

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Our demand for cake and eating it

I often read articles like this with sadness and dread as to whats to come. I have watched as countries eventually bow to the economic development, favoring money over cultural heritage and the natural environment. Often western countries are quick to criticize but are not willing to offer an alternative or much support. As an example, the Yasuni national park in Ecuador is one of the most bio-diverse rain forests on earth but unfortunately is also sat on billions of barrels of oil. The world, including the Ecuadorians, was shocked when they decided to drill. But to leave $7 – 10 billion in the ground is a big ask for a country so dependent on oil exports. But Ecuador offered the world a very interesting and fair ultimatum that will test what the world really values. They said ‘either we drill for oil or you donate half the money to stop us from drilling’. Ashamedly, the UN backed scheme was a massive failure and the world only coughed up a laughable $13 million resulting in a global demand for cake and eating it too. Continue reading