Thanks to the opening of more flight paths and the reducing cost of world travel, the globe has never seemed smaller. Foreign travel is increasing and the number of long haul holidays and micro-trips booked is on the rise. At the same time, we are becoming more aware of the impact our travels have on the environment and local communities we interact with, meaning that ecotourism has exploded over the last few years. We’ve taken a look into the top ecotourism trends for 2019 - and how you can get on board with them.
Travel that empowers women in developing countries
Thanks to initiatives such as the #MeToo movement, the issues facing women have been brought to the forefront of people’s minds and the travel industry is no exception. More tourists are seeking ways in which to uplift and support the local women they encounter on their trips, finding ways to bring more balance and equilibrium to women, even when on holiday. This manifests in several ways. Female owned and run establishments and businesses are seeing an increase in bookings and visitors to developing countries are finding ways to reach out to the local women, whether that be through providing much-needed supplies or through buying souvenirs from local female traders and artists. Several tour operators, such as lokal, have trips designed specifically to empower women - take a look at their offerings.
Social issues will have a big impact on destinations chosen
In a survey conducted by Booking.com, it was discovered that travellers will be more concerned with the social, political and environmental issues of destinations, and this will have an impact on whether or not they choose to visit. It was found that 58% of people would choose not to visit a place if doing so would have a negative impact on its inhabitants and 49% prioritise social issues when considering a destination.
According to the survey, interest in experience-led travel is still on the rise, with 54% of participants keen to volunteer whilst on their next holiday. Whether this be by giving locals access to their professional skills (qualified doctors, nurses and teachers are always needed in developing countries) or their physical ones (helping to build and provide infrastructure to communities) it’s a trend that’s on the rise. This increase has been particularly prominent for Generation Z, who, faced with steep tuition fees, are opting to gain life experience outside the classroom. Companies such as Responsible Travel are dedicated to matching explorers with the most impactful opportunities around the world.
Activities to counteract environmental impact of stay
The last couple of years have brought to life the extent of the plastic waste crisis. A study carried out in 2017 found that of the 8.3 billion tonnes produced across the globe, 6.3 billion tonnes have become waste. Finding ways to counteract this has become one of the main sustainability issues of the moment and travellers are keen to help with the cause. According to the Booking.com survey, 86% of global travellers would be willing to engage with actives that counteract the environmental impact of their trip - whether that be helping with beach cleaning projects or consciously booking more eco-friendly stays. Companies such as Green Pearls can help you find the best places to book.
Safaris and nature reserves
If you’ve yet to go on safari, make 2019 the year that you do. More lodges and camps are opening around Africa, making this experience - led holiday more accessible than ever before. As safaris aim to observe and preserve the wildlife they encounter, most lodges work with local initiatives and their communities to protect the wildlife and ensure that their impact on it is nothing but positive. Not sure where to start? Take a look at the top eco-friendly safaris to book in 2019.
Avoiding overcrowded places
Aside from the fact that there is little pleasure to be found in visiting a landmark or monument that’s crammed with people, travellers are taking more responsibility for themselves and opting to avoid places that have suffered due to overcrowding, such as Athens and Rome and instead heading to lesser known destinations. Many of the most popular cruise ship destinations (one of the major contributing factors to overcrowding) have begun to put in place strict rules to regulate and reduce the influx of visitors.
Writer: Bianca Barratt