In January, it looked like 2020 would be the year where travellers would prioritise the environmental impact of their trips. There was a buzz surrounding Carbon Offsetting, talks of reinventing the Staycation and a huge, positive drive towards the phase-out of single-use plastic.
Fast-forward to August and none of us could have predicted the events of the last few months and the halt it would bring to the travel industry. Whilst a lucky few have hopped on flights to sunnier places, most of us still haven’t taken a trip since the beginning of the pandemic. Across the board, travel has changed. The traveller is presented with new challenges, new concerns, and new priorities when booking their next escape.
Despite these changes, they are still desperate to satisfy their travel bug and explore the world again, willing to adapt in order to make this a possibility. So whilst the world is tackling new processes and accepting a new way to travel, there’s arguably never been a better time to re-establish 2020 as the year that travellers begin to explore more sustainably, prioritising our world and its’ communities.
So, as Tour Operators, how can you use this time to encourage your clients to travel more responsibly?
Promote greener modes of travel:
During the height of the crisis, global air traffic dropped by 60% (1) and worldwide lockdowns left our roads almost empty. Greenhouse gas emissions were slashed giving our planet a much-needed chance to recover. Such positive results from the reduction of air pollution show the very real possibility that if we travel more responsibly, we can truly help our planet repair itself.
Two easy ways you can promote greener modes of travel to your clients:
– Alternative modes of transport: Did you know that you can travel all the way from Portugal to Vietnam by train? This makes your clients’ trips not just more environmentally friendly, but what an incredible way to see the world. If trains aren’t their thing, what about driving? Help them make the road trip part of their adventure and enable them to experience the world in a different way.
– Carbon offsetting: Carbon off-setting enables your clients to support projects that help the environment and drive sustainability. Also, look out for low emissions flights when you create their flight schedules. We’re working on making it easier for your clients to offset their flights when they book with you. Exclusively for Vamoos Partners, something exciting is coming, so watch this space!
2020 has seen a revolution of the Staycation. Whilst largely due to the fact that we’ve not been able to travel as freely elsewhere, it’s reminded many just how much beauty our home countries have to offer. In the UK for example, from the almost Mediterranean looking coastlines in Cornwall, to deserted picturesque beaches in the Outer Hebrides, as a nation, we’ve embraced and fallen back in love with the idyllic spots right on our doorstep.
So, whilst your clients may not be able to travel to their favourite or dream destinations just yet, see if you can find them a luxurious or adventurous escape a little closer to home, no matter where that might be. It’ll give them that much-needed break and a unique opportunity to uncover a slice of paradise somewhere they probably never thought they would. Not only that, but Staycations are naturally better for the environment.
Give back to local communities:
So many communities all over the world have been hit hard by the virus. When your clients travel, whether that’s domestically or internationally, be sure to encourage them to support smaller and local businesses. From enjoying delicious street food on the go to devouring a tasty bowl of pasta on an Italian hillside, supporting local businesses will undoubtedly enhance your clients trip. Not only are they giving back to the communities they immerse themselves in, but they’re also gaining a more authentic experience and therefore a greater appreciation of different cultures.
Top Tip for Vamoos Clients: Use personalised, up-to-date POIs to guide your clients to authentic restaurants, bars and attractions a little off the beaten track. You’re an expert in these locations and will offer your clients insights they can’t find anywhere else. This way, they’re not only supporting local, but exploring safely, with confidence, and making the most of the destination they’re in.
Let’s wave goodbye to single-use plastic!
With the increased use of face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and protective equipment during the pandemic, it’s unsurprising that the last few months have seen an increase in the amount of non-recyclable waste.
It may feel like a step back in an age where we’re trying to reduce plastic pollution, protect our oceans, and help the environment thrive. But luckily, there are a few simple things that you, as a tour operator, can do to make a difference.
Reusable face masks: Single use, disposable face masks are a huge contributor to the rise of non-recyclable waste so encourage your clients to buy reusable masks that can be washed during their trip.
Support countries who regulate plastic bag use: as detailed in a report by Statista in June 2020, there are now almost 70 countries worldwide who have introduced a full or partial ban on plastic bags, or like many European countries, a charge or tax to limit their use (2). Support these countries and encourage your clients to travel to them as soon as it’s safe to do so. A full map of these countries can be found here.
So, as we navigate this new normal in front of us and adapt to a new way of travel, we must do what we can to promote sustainability and encourage the traveller to prioritise the environmental impact of their trips. Robert Swan said, ‘the greatest danger to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it’ and whilst this blog only scratches the surface of the changes we can make, hopefully it gives you the inspiration you need to get started. If we work together, collectively we will make travel greener.
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