How to Travel the World While Putting Nature First


Some hotels in the tropics are connecting the consumer with the nature around them — often, even food will be sourced locally.

Nature positive tourism is also about connecting people within communities that can safeguard nature. For example, in Colombia, they had a terrible problem with the drug trade, and they tried to pivot their economy to a peaceful economy based on tourism. You actually had former FARC guerrillas become guides. And in South Africa, where the poaching of rhinos has been a really big problem, many organizations, including government agencies, private conservancies and safari lodges, have incentivized people so that local communities actually can earn more by protecting their rhinos. You’re seeing this happen also in Rwanda, where the government is working with local communities to take back land that had been converted to agriculture to rebuild some of the forests that the gorillas live in.

There is now a lot of green investment where people are planting things like mangroves and restoring reefs that were destroyed by development. So, it’s not just about protecting, it’s also about rebuilding. I was just at a resort in Bali that is using 3-D printers to print coral and plug it back into places to start rebuilding the reef and protecting the fish stock.

If you are a hotel, you look at where your energy is coming from, and how to buy energy that’s been sourced in a more sustainable way. Another concern: Where are you buying your food from? Is it imported?

A hotel doesn’t exist in isolation. It is supplied by a lot of people, and when they source things, the vehicles they use should be green. The goal is to try to spread that sustainability footprint through your whole supply chain, from transportation to food, energy and water.

The solution needs to be at all levels. It has to be government-led. It has to be led by the industry. And, obviously, all of us as individuals when we travel should be mindful and ask questions and challenge standards. At hotels, you don’t need to get your sheets or towels changed every day. If hotels have plastic, ask why. In a hotel with small plastic bottles of shampoo, drop an email to the hotelier and say, “You guys could do better.” Buffets generate a lot of food waste. So, it’s looking at those kinds of things and, in general, being a conscious traveler.

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