It is time to awaken to a new understanding of travel. It is time to become a conscious tourist. It is time to adopt Thoughtful Travel.
Thoughtful Travel is part of a growing initiative to change the face of tourism. It is a concept that aims to promote sustainable tourism, it is a platform to raise awareness and it marks the beginning of a viable and holistic model of tourism. And importantly it is about evolving peoples understanding of the current unsustainable system that exists.
The tourism sectors has seen exponential growth over the past couple of decades, and the huge economic gains that come with it tend to shadow the important and detrimental effects associated with mass tourism. Yet these economic gains tend to benefit a small minority and further marginalise the poorest in the communities. We continue to see rising inequality and are further exposed to exploitative relationship between the rich and poor in tourist communities. With issues revolving around land grabbing and the continued development of tourist infrastructure, a reduction in clean water facilities and depleting finite resources, those that are most affected have the least say.
Yet several organisations look to rectify the current issues with increased growth in the tourism sector, seemingly ignoring our unstable trajectory. We therefore look to provide a transformative model that takes into account the fragility of our planet, and the increased depletion of our natural resources. It is imperative that we undergo massive changes in current model of tourism if we are to avoid environmental and economic catastrophe.
Thoughtful Travel is therefore apart of an evolving initiative moving away from the exhausted and unstable model of tourism. It thrives on interdependence, and will be a platform for conscious travellers to exchange experiences, expectations, ideas and creativity. It will be a step towards creating solidarity between communities and travellers alike with the right incentives. It is a process of awakening, and the future of all world travel. And it requires grass root initiatives like this one to elevate it from the ground.
Reasons Behind this Movement
Many of us traveling are oblivious to the impacts and pressure we exert on the communities that we visit. And for too many we hold the misconception that our money brings gross benefits to the whole region, while in reality only a small handful tend to benefit. The current system, especially in poorer developing countries, is subject to large economic ‘leakages’. Various studies identify that as much as 85% of revenues generated from tourism are siphoned at the top level (cited in Bolwell and Weinz, 2008). This only furthers inequality, which affects everyone, from the richest in the community to the tourists that visit.
From an environmental standpoint we face a real danger of irreparable damage to our planet based on the current trajectory. With issues revolving around air travel, of which is responsible for 54% to 75% of all CO2 emissions in all travel transport, and unrealistically high water usage from hotels, resorts and golf courses as well as water theme parks, we look set to destroy the current equilibrium in our biosphere.
The development and growth within our current tourism model is far from stable and for this reason alone we cannot continue as we are. Where government legislation is slow and often fails to protect the local and indigenous populations, we must work collectively to reduce our impact on the earth. Thoughtful Travel will be a means of evaluating sustainably viable destinations, and a way to exchange creativity and ideas amongst organisations, micro-enterprises and local communities.
When must we see the Changes?
Thoughtful Travel is about being present and completely aware of the current problems associated with mass tourism. It is imperative we act immediately through movements like Thoughtful Travel to prevent further detriment to local communities affected, and as a whole protect the planet we live on.
While there has been an identifiable shift towards the conscious consumer and a rise in those who show preference toward eco-friendly products, a problem still exists. Many of the larger organisations with greater funding tend to exploit this trend, by marketing their destinations and products without meeting real credentials. It is time to shift this balance, and transform this consciousness in favour of local communities.
With a growing and emerging market in a predominately Chinese, Indian, Russian and Mexican demographic taking place it is important to implement this new initiative now. As Chinese travellers and others rise exponentially in number, we need to devise ways to engage with the new face of tourism. We should look to identify current trends and tackle the issue head on.
How do we intend to Tackle these Issues
As Thoughtful Travel is a new paradigm within travel tourism we need to adopt new and modern means to resolve the current issues we face.
It is our belief that grass root movements like this take place in local communities and work along with travellers. It is therefore fundamental that we raise awareness within these local communities and empower them through training, leadership programs and move towards a participatory model of tourism. That is we should look to decentralise the current model, bringing autonomy and power to the community, and provide a democratically elected board that represents locals, NGO’s and other organisations involved.
Thoughtful Travel will be used as a platform for conscious travellers and a means to share ideas and imagination on sustainably viable destinations. It will offer transparency allowing those involved to exchange expectations and experiences, providing up-to-date case studies, and highlighting positive developments in the world of sustainable tourism.
The campaign will be endorsed through a web page. And will rely on mediums like social media, blogs, videos and guidebooks to appeal to the greatest audience. It will be a completely interactive force with recent travel information, travel recommendations and mapped progression in communities. It is simply the future of all tourism, and a movement that cannot be resisted.