Canadian travellers “coming to expect responsibility”
Shannon Guihan is praising what she says is a growing number of Canadians interested in sustainable travel, while rapping the knuckles of some of those they choose to book their travel with.
Guihan, program director for The Travel Corporation-linked The TreadRight Foundation, says the number of Canadians who support sustainable tourism is on the upswing, with those travellers “coming to expect responsibility [when it comes to types of travel] to be an integral part of their tour provider’s business.”
The growing appreciation for sustainable tourism comes at a time when many popular tourist sites are struggling with overcrowding, and there’s growing discussion about climate change and the impacts it may have on tourist attractions, she notes.
But Guihan adds that she believes that “overall” tour operators in this country aren’t paying adequate attention to the sustainable travel concept “and the time to act” for them has come.
This year has been declared Year of Sus-tainable Travel for Tour-ism by the United Nations General Assembly, with Sept. 27 being designated World Tourism Day.
Guihan insists that travellers should take sustainable travel seriously, arguing if they don’t, the “life-changing experiences” they enjoy while seeing the world may not be around for their children to appreciate. “While we believe the travel – as one of the world’s largest industries – can absolutely be a huge force for good, that same force can cause devastation to the environment and cultures if travellers and the travel industry don’t make responsible choices.”
She says travellers wanting to see a better world should “make educated choices” when it comes to choosing a travel provider, with a modest amount of research before booking quickly showing whether a travel organization is “responsibly minded.” Company websites will reveal a firm’s responsible and sustainable travel policies, she says. “Organizations know this is something many modern travellers are looking for, and those companies with progressive policies are sure to highlight them on their website,” she reports. “While travelling, it’s important to think about the impact you have on the destination you’re visiting and the people who live there. Be sure to honour your hosts and their heritage, support the local economy by purchasing locally made handicrafts and products, be informed about local customs and respect them, only access places open to visitors, respect wildlife and their natural habitats, and reduce your water and energy consumption wherever possible.”
Meanwhile, Guihan says The TreadRight Foundation is having a positive impact, saying its TreadRight Wildlife Initiative has teamed up with wildlife organizations to help protect “most-at-risk” wildlife populations by combating poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, raising awareness of wildlife issues and helping safeguard vulnerable animals.
The TreadRight Herit-age Initiative lends a helping hand to heritage activities in communities The Travel Corporation brands visit, thereby boosting local economies. The initiative gives grants to artisan enterprises, creating work that can build connections to the global marketplace and “empower the disenfranchised,” Guihan says.