Energy-guzzling air conditioning, food that’s travelled more miles than we have and towels that see more detergent in a month than ours at home would in a year all become part of the package.If you buy into this image of paradise and you’re unwittingly contributing to the degradation of those very environments that attracted you in the first place. All too often those landscapes become littered and overdeveloped, local people jaded and cynical. Economic benefits that were promised in good faith all too frequently leach out as soon as the big corporations move in. The social and environmental consequences we unwittingly set in motion can be disastrous.
The good news is that there are travel companies out there who are paying it forward, companies who go the extra mile to be a positive influence, both culturally and environmentally, on the communities they seek to work alongside of.
PeruThe Kandoo Foundation operates in every country it visits. Because of this, they are now also working in Peru, helping to create opportunities for indigenous women who weave traditional textiles. Aside from providing local artisans a chance to market their crafts and to organise, they also provide more tangible help to remote Andean villages -things like presents and hot chocolate matter a lot to the tiniest inhabitants of these picturesque, isolated places. Planeterra is another such organisation, this time acting under the auspices of successful budget tour operator G Adventures. Many of the projects it manages empower and support women, aiming to address the gender equality present in many remote communities. One such project can be found in the village of Ccaccaccollo. With the tourism boom of the 1990s, this tiny corner of the Peruvian Andes lost its way. Ancient traditions of weaving were abandoned as residents switched to other forms of employment. Spotting an opportunity to put things right, Planeterra launched the Women’s Weaving Co-op in 2005. Local women relearned weaving techniques and the Foundation supplied looms and other equipment. Today, the market is thriving and a way of life has been resurrected. The once illiterate population is now celebrating their children heading off to university. Carbon Offsetting Carbon offsetting, if managed carefully, can also have positive effects on the environment. Tread cautiously, however. Before choosing a carbon offsetting scheme, travellers need to research how much of their donation will be left after administrative overheads have been paid and most important of all, how it will be used. Some carbon offsetting schemes, though well-intentioned, can do more harm than good. Simply planting vast stands of trees isn’t good enough – particularly if such actions impact on biodiversity or much-needed agricultural land. Often, projects which involve support for renewal energy programmes can be helpful as are initiatives such as that of the World Land Trust which buys up crucial acreage to protect wildlife habitats. We can also make a difference in carbon emissions when choosing an airline. IATA’s Quality Assurance Standards have been awarded to airlines such as TAP Portugal, Kenya Airways, SriLankan Airlines and South African Airlines. When booking a flight and supporting the programmes endorsed by these carriers, travellers can be sure that a properly carried out audit has taken place.
Be realistic. Most of us can’t hope to achieve carbon neutrality, but every little helps when it comes to reducing the toll we take on our increasingly beleaguered planet.At the end of the day, it’s about respect. We can choose who gets our money when we pay for a trip. With a little thought, as conscious travellers we can ensure that our footprint is minimal. We can choose to make donations to operators with active charitable foundations and financially support effective initiatives that offset the negativity of our actions. We can seek out those companies that pay it forward. Via our social media accounts, we can choose to promote good practice and encourage our friends and family to do the same. The power of suggestion is an effective tool, so why not advocate a more sustainable way of enjoying our travels?
- Tours for Women around the World
- Tour Companies run by Women around the World
- Accommodation for Women around the World
- Women who are Local Tour Guides
- Retreat Places for Women Around the World
- Tours which include Retreat Themes