|Transitions Abroad Magazine November/December 2006 Vol. XXX, NO.3|
The Annual Responsible Travel Issue
Back Door Travel
International Career Advisor
The Resourceful Traveler
The Independent Traveler
Special Guide: Responsible Travel Resources
Abroad at Home
Activist Responsible Traveler
Travel to Eat
From The Editor
Can we make a positive difference by how we choose to travel? We certainly think so—and apparently so do many of the travelers who wrote for this year’s Responsible Travel issue. Their experiences, as well as the winners of various 2006 responsible travel awards, are inspiring examples of what is possible when we approach tourism more mindfully. What the majority share in common is a desire to ensure a positive, fair experience for all involved—travelers, hosts, and destinations alike.
Doing well by the Earth and its people is not just a good thing to do these days; it’s also a hip thing to do. In less than a year, we’ve seen the debut of Vice President Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and Vanity Fair’s “Green Issue,” Newsweek’s “The New Greening of America” cover story, and “VolunTourism” articles in mainstream media.
There’s a lot of buzz…but what exactly is “responsible travel?” It can seem more than a bit confusing at times with all its lexicon and labels (e.g. sustainable travel, ethical travel, volunteer travel, eco-travel, pro-poor tourism, fair-trade tourism…). What it all comes down to, to put it simply, is what Transitions Abroad Founder Clay Hubbs said in an interview with Planeta.com several years ago: “The golden rule is more and more recognized as the first rule of travel.” If we treat our global neighbors as we would wish to be treated, we’ll be doing our best to respect and improve their lives and the places where they live—while having a life-enriching experience.
There are many encouraging signs afoot for the future of travel, such as Virgin Atlantic Chairman Sir Richard Branson’s recent call upon the global aviation industry to develop a shared solution to the growing issue of climate change. At Clinton’s Global Initiative Conference in September, he pledged to invest the next 10 years of profits from Virgin Atlantic into developing technologies that will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Carbon offsetting is an admirable new step toward greening the aviation industry, but if we can engineer an even greater sustainable solution for making air travel (and all forms of transportation) more environmentally friendly, we could say without reservation that travel makes a positive difference.
Travel has the potential to bring much-needed economic benefits to developing countries and to foster cross-cultural awareness, dialogue, and understanding—all of which make for the conditions of world peace (see my interview with International Institute for Peace Through Tourism Founder Louis D’Amore).
“It’s only through traveling, through meeting people, that we begin to understand that we’re all sharing this world and all coming along for the ride,” writes Lonely Planet Founder Tony Wheeler in Code Green.
Wherever you are in your journey, we applaud your efforts for keeping an open mind and considering what steps you can make toward improving the balance sheet of travel. When people “discover that they must be part of the solutions,” Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan activist and environmentalist said in accepting her Nobel Peace Prize, “they realize their hidden potential and are empowered to overcome inertia and take action.”
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