Top ten sustainable tourism companies for post-pandemic travel

There is a lot of talk of the new normal in travel. How we are all going to be sustainable, savvy and sensitive when we are allowed out of our cages again. I have always believed that sustainability is normal in tourism, and so this isn’t new for me. It isn’t new for the following sustainable tourism companies either, who have been flying the fantastic flag of fair and fun tourism for many years. 

So, if you are revving up to travel again but want to not only keep things responsible but also remote, here are some beauties in my book. These ten sustainable tourism companies are led by pioneering people who will look after you, your loved ones, their own communities and environments. I don’t like top ten type round ups, because ranking leaders like this is just nonsense, so they’re in alphabetical order. 

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Sustaining the wonderful island of Sark

Sark, one of the car-free Channel Islands

If there is one place I could go back to this mid summer, it would have to be Sark. One of the Channel Islands, it takes a good while to get there but it is so worth it. Sark is a car-free and sustainable Channel Island lying 11 km east of Guernsey and about 40 km west of the Cherbourg Peninsula of France. I discovered it on a trip to (also gorgeous, but not quite so special) Jersey a few years ago, which I was heading to by ferry from the south of England. I got chatting to a crowd of cool young ones, who told me they were en route to Sark. They come every year around midsummer to gaze at the stars, because Sark is not only car free, but it is totally free of street lights and so an astronomical Arcadia.

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Do punters give a toss about responsible tourism?

‘Responsible tourism? Oh please. Does that mean not dropping your litter as you walk through the rainforest?’ was the scathing reaction of a colleague when I told her that I was taking on an MSc in Responsible Tourism Management over a decade ago. I tried somewhat pathetically to defend my tiny corner. Then, a few years later, an award-winning travel writer said loudly in my direction at the ABTA convention,”I am so tired all of this f***king eco shit” which was met with a round of back patting and communal cackling from his peers. By then, I had learned to smile politely and walk on. But oh, how they laughed.

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Tickets on sale today for Britain’s first Travel Lottery

Any of us working in sustainable tourism have heard of the fine work of The Travel Foundation (TF) over the last decade. However, the TF still isn’t known by most travellers. Their Travel Lottery is a genius initiative to get tourists who are passionate to protect the destinations they love waking up to the work of the TF. WhatTF? – you’re brilliant.

Tickets are now on sale for this first ever Travel Lottery in the UK, whereby holiday makers have a chance to win prizes while raising vital funds for carefully monitored, community led sustainable tourism projects.  Tickets cost £2 and the first draw is at the end of March. Each ticket is a chance to win back the cost of their holiday in the form of a cash prize of up to £5,000.  Prize draws are monthly, with a guaranteed cash prize of at least £1,000 given away in each draw.travel lottery

The lottery is the first of its kind for the travel industry, creating a unified way of fundraising that protects and invests in communities and natural environments in popular holiday destinations; from Cyprus to St Lucia and from Turkey to Thailand.  Customers will be able to buy tickets from travel agents and other companies when they book holidays and buy related products and services. Launch partners Midcounties Cooperative Travel and Holiday Extras will sell tickets for the first draw, and many more travel companies are expected to join them in the coming months. The aim is to sell at least 100,000 tickets and raise more than £50,000 for good causes in the first year.

Customers can also buy tickets directly from www.thetravellottery.co.uk, either for a single draw or by signing up to play regularly.  At least 50 pence from each ticket goes to projects run by The Travel Foundation, with a focus on work that will sustain the local environment, wildlife, history and culture. These projects also help to tackle poverty by creating opportunities for local people to benefit from tourism. These projects include: helping beach operators in Kenya earn a better living from tourism and provide hassle-free tours for holidaymakers to enjoy; finding new ways to help local businesses grow and thrive alongside all-inclusive hotels in Cyprus; supporting local communities in Jamaica and Turkey to create great tourism experiences whilst protecting the marine environment; Continuing to develop the business skills of Mayan women in Mexico so they can supply locally-produced honey products to hotels.

I can stand by the projects of The Travel Foundation, as I wrote one of my first travel articles about their superb work to stop the exploitation of the Maasai in Kenya a few years ago. You can read more about that trip here, but watch the progress made by the villages, with the help of The Travel Foundation , since then in the video below. Watching these Massai elders, teacher and children, with whom I spent precious time, now growing their own sustainable tourism products is what gives me faith in this mad maelstrom of mass tourism.

Well done The Travel Foundation for making a new mark on the consumer side of the tourism industry, creating a social media-friendly way to share sustainable tourism stories and carrying the responsible tourism movement forward another good few steps.