Valentine’s Day is on the horizon. The notion of showing everyone you love just how much you care is prevalent, to say the least. Traditionally, gifts have included flowers, jewelry and luxury goods. However, research has found that spending on experiences such as travel, hotels and eating out is a fast growing trend. Yet, while travel may be our first love, this prospect isn’t entirely trouble-free.
With travel becoming ever-more popular and accessible, destination management has become increasingly important as well. Some of the world’s most popular attractions and destinations have put initiatives in place in order to regulate visitor numbers.
Indeed, the conservation, preservation and management of (natural) resources is becoming ever more central in the travel industry. Around the globe there are several non-profit organisations that campaign and support projects seeking a sustainable growth in tourism.
Addressing the issue is a tough task. Challenges include animal welfare, how we treat our planet, those we share it with and even our food consumption.
So, whether you are partnered up or not, read on below for some less traditional displays of affection. You too can give back to those that have welcomed you on your way when travelling. Participating in a volunteer program adds a special dimension to your travel experience and maximises the satisfaction you get from it.
As adventurous travellers, many of us celebrate every opportunity to see wild animals. While, in general, we all support not exploiting animals, it’s hard to know specifically what activities or organisations best support their conservation.
World Animal Protection has set out some guidelines, which are universally accepted as animal freedoms. Animals should be provided with a safe environment, which is adequate for their size. The space should be comparable to their natural habitat and shared with other animals of the same kind. Besides shelter, access to clean water, healthy food and medical attention to prevent disease, pain, injury, mental suffering and distress are required.
Adventure Travel Conservation exists to provide funding for the conservation of natural and cultural resources. In 2018, ATC held a Grant Cycle, where a total fund of $80,000 was distributed among four winning projects.
One of these projects is the Oaxaca Sea Turtle Conservation Project. It aims to protect the unique natural and cultural resources of adventure travel destinations along some 100 kilometres of the Oaxaca coastline. Besides the protection of nesting beaches as well as improved sea turtle monitoring; the project also focusses on education and stewardship activities for local indigenous communities.
Bamba for Good is our very own initiative to give back to the local communities in which we work and travel. It is an essential part of the company culture and core values.
Bamba for Good partnered with Futbol for Kids in Huacatinco, Peru to improve the lives of tourism workers and their families that are directly affected by the tourism industry. Special attention is hereby given to the families and children of tourism workers on the Inca Trail.
In 2019, the goal is to bring more resources to the primary school children in remote Andean villages. Besides, fundraising towards the purchase and installation of a small playground for the kindergarten children will take place.
One of the main concerns for our planet is the level of marine pollution. An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year, according to the United Nations. Certain destinations actually find themselves in a critical situation. Plastics have both a direct and indirect effect on the planet. Oceans and especially marine life suffer directly from plastic waste in the ocean, for example, by mistaking bags for food. Plastics, in fact, also play a role in climate change. Speaking of which, tourism accounts for roughly 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Air transport is by far the main culprit, while an increasing demand for luxury travel implies that pollution is likely to continue growing.
With this in mind, another winner of the Adventure Travel Conservation’s Fund is Desplastificate Todos Santos y Pescadero. The first year of the campaign concentrates fully on encouraging communities in the region, Baja California Sur, to eliminate plastics straws, bags, water bottles, as well as styrofoam food containers. Recycling initiatives and waste–management strategies are included in the second year of the program.
Not only do shopping bags or bottled drinks form the issue: our food habits can be equally harmful. It can be hard to know exactly where the things we eat come from. However, avoiding processed foods already gives you a head start. Buying local is the best way to go about it. Generally the produce is fresh, but more importantly, it has not been shipped or hauled across the country before reaching your mouth.
Great options with a small carbon footprint include local fruits and vegetables. Likewise, you can consider grass-fed beef. Research suggests that grass-fed beef has more nutrients than grain-fed, while there is also a much more humane treatment for the animals.
Finally, you should refrain from consuming meals or medicines made with wild animals, like shark-fin soup. It is certainly distressing that often illegal practices take place in order for such products to reach the marketplace.