December 9, 2021
In the upcoming months, we are setting our sights on the triumphant return and fresh start that 2021 will bring in terms of travel. Many travellers will be looking for more meaningful ways to travel while taking the time to experience a destination and what it has to offer focussing on ethical practices, sustainability, conservation and charitable activities. In effect, a post Covid return to travel that is smarter and greener than before for both the tourists and the destinations.
In recent months, a new bar has been set for travel with regenerative tourism becoming the new focus for many in the tourism industry. Regenerative tourism focuses on creating conditions for communities and places to continue to evolve and grow in resilience in a more meaningful way. It is looking at a way to travel and create balance that will support and benefit the entire system and not just focusing on one particular aspect of a problem.
Beyond Sustainable Tourism
For the last few years, sustainable tourism has been the focus of the travel industry in an attempt to slow down the effects of climate change by shrinking carbon footprint and travellers impact on pollution with initiatives often based on technological approaches with the aim to maximise efficiency.
However as Anna Pollock, Founder of Conscious Travel says “regenerative tourism enables a place to be left better than it was found.” This means focusing on the needs of communities and ecosystems rather than just the visitors’ needs and what the market demands. Regenerative travel doesn’t only impact the environment as sustainable travel does it encompasses the communities and cultures that make up a destination and that would otherwise be endangered due to mass and over-tourism.
We have seen the issues this has caused in recent years with the overwhelming amount of visitors to cities such as Venice and Dubrovnik, both of which have struggled with the large amounts of cruises ships that daily dock in their harbour. These large amount of tourists cause strains on the buildings and infrastructure and do not contribute economically to the cities as few stay little more than a couple of hours before returning to the cruise ships which in itself is a high pollutant.
A lot of times, tourism success is defined by high numbers of visitors to a destination which often leads to a destination being solely run for tourists while forgetting about the local people and how this affects their lives, cultures and communities. The aim of regenerative tourism is to cater to every destinations needs instead of focusing on the highly touristic attractions that suffer from over-crowding. This leads to many aspects of a country being overlooked in favour of more hyped about activities and attractions. Regenerative tourism looks to take some of these funds from over-tourism and reinvest them in communities that are in need of it so they can help tackle localised issues such as indigenous rights.
Regeneration: An Opportunity For Positive Change
Regenerative tourism and experiences look to create purposeful and meaningful travel that transforms our usual way of thinking by experiencing things differently in a unique, off-the-beaten path setting that can only be lived and shared by those whose home it is. It is taking people outside of the big tourist attractions to affect and enchant the lives of visitors through community, culture and conservation. Regenerative tourism sees countries and destinations as living communities with stories and patterns and encouraging these sometimes lesser known communities to flourish and have a say in what they want from the industry.
This means giving smaller communities the ability to have more control in how tourism impacts them and the environment they live in while also supporting an industry that often sees its smaller communities struggle with the lack of capital they receive. It becomes a shifting of purpose from focusing on maximising profit to instead focusing on meaningful experiences and building relationships and resources that help everyone thrive.
At Uncover South America, we are committed to regenerative and sustainable tourism. We create unique experiences that allow travellers to learn and contribute to the growth of the countries they visit. We strive to work with local communities to create unique experiences for visitors to immerse themselves in the culture whilst preserving the environment and natural resources for future generations.
We encourage our guests to interact with local communities to learn more about its history and culture as it is only through intimate interactions with small communities that we create and add to life-long bonds and memories. It is important that guests are treated to authentic cultural exchanges and get to experience what is life in some of the more remote destinations of South America while appreciating a fresh local perspective along the way.
Uncover South America looks to add value to travel and create revenue for the communities it supports. The protection of cultural and natural heritage is important to us and we strive to continuously learn, educate and grow in our offerings of sustainable and regenerative practices.
How Travellers Can Affect Change
Just like we learned during the pandemic the importance of supporting local businesses such as restaurants, coffee shops and bookstores to keep these small communities alive and blossoming so we must do the same when we travel. Supporting small, local communities in places we go to, to learn and connect more deeply with the people that we meet has never been more important.
Following nationwide lockdowns, we as human have come to realise the importance of human contact and being able to feel a sense of belonging to a community, city or region. It is important that as we slowly return to travel that we bring this connection with us by bringing together travellers and communities to share in their love for a place, discover new cultures and bring us closer to ourselves and others.
The recent pandemic has given us the opportunity to realise that the previous perspectives on what and how tourism should be might no longer be appropriate and that this might be the right time to rethink the way we travel. Regenerative tourism allows us to take on a new perspective on how to travel sustainably while providing a greater and richer sense of meaning for travellers and communities. It is important that we start looking at ways to build a more resilient path to travel, one based on a more holistic approach and which will benefit the entire travel system and build on giving back to the communities and protecting the environment so that future generations can enjoy it just as much as we do.