The tourism industry has become more eco-conscious as travellers seek responsible, environmentally conscious travel experiences. Here are some tips on how to cater for the eco-traveller.
- Cater For All Shades Of Green
Inge Altona-de Klerk, from White Sharks Projects, says there are many shades of green eco-travellers ‘from the fresh mint-green all the way to the seasoned sage-green’. She says the virgin eco-traveller is one whose conscience has started to niggle. As a result, they are looking to put money toward good causes, such as community upliftment programmes and conservation. However, she says this shade of eco-traveller is not too concerned about by whether companies recycle or leave a carbon footprint.
More aware eco-travellers are very conscious of the impact of carbon footprints and every aspect of their daily lives revolves around responsible and sustainable living; recycling; buying local and organic produce; and doing research on how their travels can benefit a community and its environment. Altona-de Klerk says a well-seasoned eco-traveller would prefer to stay at a locally owned boutique hotel that is a responsible and sustainable establishment than at an internationally branded hotel.
- Offer Meaningful Encounters
Katherine Greathead, Marketing Manager at EcoTraining, says eco-travellers tend to look for hands-on experiences and meaningful encounters. To cater for the needs of these travellers, Greathead suggested introducing activities such as animal tracking, as it turns a safari adventure into an ecological experience. She also suggested teaching these travellers to trail an animal through the bush and allowing them to sit on the tracker seat during game drives. Mark Rutherfoord, Director of Gondwana Game Reserve, suggests including a small selection of activities into an itinerary that have a more meaningful effect on the traveller and ensuring that the chosen activity has a direct benefit to conservation or the environment.
- Get Travellers Involved In Conservation
Chris Roche, Wilderness Safaris Chief Marketing Officer, says the company is actively involved in environmental and biodiversity conservation. Guests at Wilderness can get involved in conservation projects by donating to the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, which is an independent, non-profit entity associated with the Wilderness Group. “Thanks to the contribution of our guests, we have been able to successfully move 1 percent of Africa’s black rhino population to Botswana and hosted over 5 600 children in ‘Children in the Wilderness’ camps,” says Roche. Each guest who travels with a reputable operator also directly contributes towards conservation and community projects, he adds. Altona-de Klerk emphasises that responsible eco-tourism includes communities, wildlife and the environment. “Ensure that your company is holistic in its responsible practices,” she says.
- Include Sleep-Outs
Sleep-outs allow eco-travellers to experience the wilderness in its most natural form. EcoTraining offers eco-travellers the opportunity to leave the camp for a night and sleep in the bush. Participants will sleep on a thin mattress with a sleeping bag under the stars – tents are not used. Greathead says each participant takes a turn of night vigil to watch for nocturnal animals. During the sleep-out experience, eco-travellers learn about eco-friendly fire making, camping and cooking with the bare minimum.
- Balance Luxury And Responsibility
Altona-de Klerk says eco-travelling does not necessarily mean no or less luxury. She says eco-travellers do want a balance between luxury and responsibility. Wilderness Safaris has 50 luxury camps and safaris, of which 13 camps in the portfolio operate on 100 percent solar power. Roche says all camps are built in an eco-friendly manner, making use of minimum standards, renewable energy technologies and education of staff and guests.
Compiled By: Melissa Jane Cook. Source: Daniella Di Gaspero. Image: Istock