Sustainable and regenerative travel by Carla Mott Ancona

There are few better things in the world than traveling. Get to know new places, discover their stories, explore different cultures and customs, experience unique cuisines, admire amazing landscapes, meet people, venture out and be enchanted by everything the world has to offer.

Travel is part of one of the most important sectors of the world economy, involving a large production chain. According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), in 2019, there was a record of 1.4 billion international trips (without considering domestic tourism in each country). The sector was responsible, before the pandemic, for more than 10% of world GDP and for one in ten jobs on the planet. The movement that the industry provides represents job creation, export products, integration between cultures, exchange of experiences and many other benefits. In addition, it also means increased greenhouse gas emissions, depletion of natural resources, excess waste, exploitation of labor, gentrification, deepening of inequalities and sometimes culture´s extinction.

The sum of this impact generated by tourism also contributes enormously to the climate crisis, which today is one of the main agendas of governments around the world. The effect of man on the planet in the last 50 years is the greatest in the history of our civilization, being considered a new geological era: the anthropocene era (den=man; ceno=denomination for geological eras). Scientists consider that we are the last generation that can reverse this process of destruction and save our species. The Tragedy of Covid-19 was the most dramatic warning we could have about this moment in which we live.

It is precisely the greatest weakness of the tourism industry that becomes its greatest strength: its capillarity, with operations in innumerous destinations around the world. Tourism just needs to operate according to a new paradigm, creating a positive impact in each place, with no degeneration and even contributing to the regeneration of the planet.

This new way of understanding tourism can be sustainable, responsible, and regenerative. These three concepts merge and complete each other. The concept of Sustainable Tourism was first defined during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Eco-92), which took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Sustainable Tourism seeks to increase benefits and reduce the negative impacts caused by tourism to destinations, people, and the planet.

The concept of Responsible Tourism was established in 2002, during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. The main objective was to recognize that, despite the advances on reducing the environmental impacts of tourism, the sustainable tourism proposal was not considering local economic development for the benefit of indigenous communities and peoples, nor the management of the social and cultural impacts of tourism. Responsible tourism can be translated by actions such as: generating as little garbage as possible (and, when generated, discarding it in the correct place), conscious consumption of water and electricity, preservation of nature, income generation for residents among other actions.

Regenerative travel goes a step further: it requires social, economic, and cultural involvement; in other words, it needs to help the visited destination a better place than it was before, to positively impact the communities visited.

Incentive trips are an excellent opportunity to practice one of these forms of tourism. It is up to each one of us, using our magic, knowledge, and creativity to create a priceless trip, to provide to our passengers the possibility of effectively contributing to a better and fairer world for all beings. What prize could be better than that?

Carla Mott Ancona Lopez

Santo André, Santa Cruz de Cabrália, Bahia