On the heels of Earth Day, one supplier hopes to do its part in implementing and promoting positive sustainability efforts industrywide for the greater good of travel.
Trafalgar Tours has developed a three-step solution for the preservation of tourism that it hopes will set an industry precedent, ensuring a proactive as opposed to a reactive approach to the problem of overtourism.
Trafalgar Tours CEO Gavin Tollman said the recent shutdown of Boracay in the Philippines was the most concerning development of late to prompt him and his company to become solution-driven and take additional action in protecting the destinations their guests travel to and within.
“Some of the verbiage around tourism itself lately made it apparent to me that tourism was being tarnished in one, large brush stroke,” said Tollman. “To me, the most important factor around tourism should and can be preservation, which is a far better path to success than recovery.”
Tollman is encouraging his fellow travel colleagues to start thinking through their tourism initiatives in advance and offers up the following guidelines to ensure a “positive force impacts the places we visit.” Whether individually as brands or through work with governments and local communities, Trafalgar is imploring these groups to work together on the following steps.
Dissemination of off-season options
“You’ve got to spread the load of those coming to visit seasonally, beyond the peak times of travel,” said Tollman, who encourages his fellow suppliers and agents to ask how they can extend tourism throughout the year? Consider the advantages of traveling in off-season months and let the positive impact of tourism be felt year-round.
Dispersal beyond the iconic
This is the need to go beyond the bottlenecks of where travelers typically visit. “Obviously, people come to see the iconic, but you have to move further than the iconic to have a greater impact and gain that level of engagement.”
Tollman pointed to the company’s “Be Our Guest” insider experience program as an example of a greater force of good that benefits all parties. He spoke to how his guests rate these authentic regional food and personal dining experiences with locals among their most favorite and how the local communities have expressed their appreciation for the exposure to these travelers. Tollman said dispersal is about doing less of the same and more things differently.
Direct action now
This relates to the conscious thought that needs to replace the organic progression of tourism by taking preventative measures now to mitigate risk. “We have to stop and look to see how we, as a travel industry, can do more to sustain the places we travel to,” said Tollman, who is concentrating on the impact tourism can have long-term, including supporting sustainability efforts so future generations can have an “amazing travel experience,” as well.
For its part, Trafalgar recently announced it had partnered with One Tree Planted to plant one tree for every client that opts to have electronic versus printed documents. The company will continue planting until it reaches its goal of 100 acres of reforestation. California, home of Trafalgar’s U.S. headquarters, and the state that recently endured fierce fires that destroyed over a million acres of forest, will be the recipient of the trees planted by Trafalgar. Since the inception of the program, Tollman reports 70 percent of its guests request e-documents.
Tollman hopes his solutions will result in greater industry awareness and a sense of responsibility. “If we become solution-driven rather than shrugging our shoulders when we read what’s happening, with the likes of Boracay for example, we can be that force for good for a long time to come.”