“Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories” is a saying you will have heard when travelling and exploring the world. But with luxury travel to far-flung corners of the globe ever increasing, Sybarites must consider a more responsible way to travel.
As consumers we don’t just hope, we now expect airlines, hotels, tour operators et al to embrace responsibility for caring for the environment in their offerings – as demonstrated by the success of Six Senses, a group of low-key yet luxurious hotels, resorts and spas.
If you’re unsure of the definition of ‘responsible tourism’, let us clue you in. Responsible travel minimises negative social, economic and environmental impacts, generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities.
Six Senses prides itself as a leader in sustainability: expect architecture and décor that incorporates local arts and crafts in a celebration of the culture of the country, and enough eco credentials to keep even David Attenborough happy. Indeed the eco commitment is flagged up everywhere in Six Senses’ 11 properties: you won’t find plastic bottles full of lotions and potions in your bathroom but earthy containers that are topped up each day.
Even Dubai – the bling bedecked desert city that has long been regarded as something of an ecological disaster – has an eco-friendly yet sumptuous holiday retreat on its doorstep, in the shape of Al Maha. The desert resort – bordered only by Fossil Rock, Jebel Rawdah and a handful of camel farms – opened with the mission statement that “the UAE’s rich natural heritage must be protected and conservation made a priority.” Up went a perimeter fence around 225 square kilometres of desert, ringing in and protecting the natural wildlife and shutting out any potential harm to the environment.
All told, with a little thought, we can travel to a greener future. The emerald hue is evidently en vogue – and fingers crossed, this is one travel trend that’s here to stay. Here are our tips on steps you can take to embrace responsible tourism:
- Be careful whose pocket you line. By this we mean supporting small locally owned and run hotels, shops and tour guides, thereby putting money into local pockets – as opposed to impersonal, international chains.
- Make sure you know what’s happening in the region you’re visiting. For instance, if there’s a water shortage – especially in desert destinations – keep showers to a minimum and reuse water bottles wherever possible.
- Leave animals, artefacts, plants and places as you find them for all to enjoy. Don’t discard rubbish irresponsibly.
- Balance out the damage done by your flight by offsetting your carbon emissions. Web sites such as Climate Care and Carbon Neutral Company will calculate the carbon emissions made by your flight. You can then offset this by making a donation to forest planting schemes or energy saving projects in developing countries.
By Kaye Holland