As passionate hospitality professionals, we have the privilege of discovering and connecting with local communities, providing travellers with the opportunity to experience a destination in the most beautiful and authentic ways possible. For example, wandering through the small markets with a local chef will give insight into the way local people really live. To me, empowering local communities is just as important as choosing a destination. We should be able to help the village or even the country in which we develop our projects and keep that in mind whilst creating it.
Often, sustainability is seen as unreachable and far too complex for a company to apply on a large scale. The truth is, even the biggest companies can put sustainable solutions in place, step by step. Let’s start with aiming to leave — as much as possible — a positive footprint in the places where we operate. This includes sustainable construction, eco-conception, predominance of raw materials, waste management, use of local techniques, and empowerment of the local workforce. Sustainability must be planned ahead of construction and present from start to finish in the creation process.
It has never been more important to help preserve the environment and wildlife. The Amazon rainforest has been burning for months, and that is just one example of our planet under threat.
Each one of us has a responsibility in this catastrophe, and I believe COVID-19 is just another consequence of our carelessness. The effects of the virus have had an enormous impact on tourism, especially in secluded and hard-to-access locations, which rely on tourism to survive. Africa-based conservation schemes for instance, many of which are driven by ecotourism, are struggling to make ends meet.
One idea would be to simply travel to these destinations that make much of their living from tourism to help them recover. In the meantime, we must all continue our hard work of preservation and reintroduction to ensure the land and wildlife remain protected. I would encourage everyone who wishes to make a difference during these challenging times to help their local associations, for example by donating homegrown vegetables, fruits, or any ingredients that can’t be sold for aesthetic reasons, instead of throwing them away. Responsible travel may take place around the world, but these good habits start at home.
Image courtesy of Zannier Hotel’s Press Kit.