I recently heard a shocking number: 45% of respondents to a TUI survey lately said they wouldn’t particularly book more environmentally sustainable holidays even if they were more readily available. By choosing eco holidays, they’ve got the opportunity to do something good for the planet and local people, but they are not interested. So, what influenced their answer? Maybe one of these misconceptions about the eco holidays experience…?
I don’t know if that’s the actual reason, but I discussed with people who had a very restricted view of what eco holidays could be. Because they believed the experience would not meet their envies, they would not consider booking an eco-friendly tour or accommodation. So let’s spread the word about what eco holidays are … or are not!
1. Eco holidays are luxury and expensive
It’s not entirely a misconception, but it’s not right either.
Eco holidays are like holidays: there are many different options according to your budget.
Holidays are luxury: not everyone can afford it. But if you can afford holidays, you can afford eco holidays. It’s not only for a niche anymore and booking with a business that is careful about its impact does not necessarily mean spending more money.
A very cheap example: Camping and hiking in a National Park cost us less than $60 per person for the weekend, all included. We pay fees to the park for conservation, and we buy food from local businesses.
These are two eco holidays choices that have a significant budget difference:
2. Eco holidays are grassroots and adventurous
They can be. Or you can choose eco holidays in a very luxurious resort. It’s up to you to choose the type of holidays you like: adventurous, relaxing on a beach, food-oriented or even an all-inclusive resort. Whether you like spending your day in lush nature or by the pool, there is a responsible choice to make on how you do it. All these activities can be sustainable, or not, according to the provider you choose and how your money is spent.
For example, these three activities are all linked to eco holidays although they’re very different from each other:
- Ethical animal encounter supporting wildlife rescue
- Learning local culture to support its protection
- Chilling on a protected beach to support conservation
3. Eco holidays requires efforts
In terms of holidays planning, eco holidays aren’t that hard to find anymore. Although it’s not perfect, the transparency of the internet, the consumer reviews, the labels and even the new fields in the booking search engines are making it easier for the consumer to find more eco-friendly options. There are even platforms that will provide you with a list of results matching your destination and envies, such as the Green Travel Guide for Australia, for example.
If you don’t pick a remote area with a long list of eco-challenges, you won’t be asked to make a lot of efforts during your stay. And you won’t be surrounded by ecologists and greens. Relax…! Once you’re at the destination, the sustainable hotel or tour you picked will make most of the efforts for you.
Of course, it makes more sense not to wastewater, energy or food. But by selecting a tour or accommodation ran by a sustainable business, you’ll ensure that:
- you’re using all resources in an optimised way,
- the impact of your visit is monitored not to ruin the local environment or harm animals
- your money ends up helping the local community and not only making a foreign investor richer.
4. Eco holidays don’t matter
Tourism is booming: more people in the world travel today than ever. And the growth trend will carry on. With more visitors come more challenges, and also more opportunities. As many destinations develop their offers, it’s more important than ever to consider sustainability.
It’s true that travelling cannot fully be a sustainable activity as we increase our carbon footprint when we move away from home. But it’s not because it has negative impacts on the global environment that it doesn’t matter to have positive effects on the local one. That’s even one way to try to balance it.
Plus, eco holidays are essential to preserve the way we travel. If we want the next generations to enjoy these stunning places we visit, to see these beautiful animals or to experience the different cultures, then we need to invest in conservation. If we want locals to stay friendly and welcome tourists as an opportunity and not a threat, then we need to ensure the community receives benefits from tourism.
Tourism can have a positive impact. One tourist at a time.
What’s your opinion on eco holidays? I’d love to hear it; please leave a comment below!
If you liked this article about eco holidays, help spread the word and add it to your Pinterest board: