„We have nothing to lose and the world to see“
That’s a quote I recently heard and it immediately caught my attention. I couldn’t stop thinking about it anymore and I was wondering if it is the other way around: Soon we’ll have nothing to see and the world to lose?
I found some answers in Elizabeth Becker’s “Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism” .
Being a world-traveler with a long list of „Places I want to visit“ this book has opened my eyes and touched my heart.
Elizabeth Becker writes about how Tourism is fast becoming the largest global business in the world. One out of 12 persons are employed by Tourism and it produces $6.5 trillion of the world’s economy.
Her book is groundbreaking, as she uncovers how tourism, once an adventure and hobby for only a small segment, became a huge enterprise with profound impact on countries, people, the environment, and cultural heritage.
It is obvious, that the world is getting smaller and smaller; Entrepreneurism, technology and political transformation all brought about the tourism boom and allowed us to follow our wanderlust. However, more and more destinations are suffering from too many crowds.
So what is overcrowding?
If you ever went on a trip to Venice during Summer or tried to get into the Louvre in Paris, you most likely know what overcrowding is. If you tried taking a selfie at the peek of Daimond Head but your experience was clouded as too many others had the same intention, then you most likely became a victim or/and contributor to overcrowding. Trying to get a spot at Waikiki Beach on a sunny afternoon is another good example.
Overcrowding is a complex problem which varies from destination to destination and requires long-term planning with all stakeholders involved.
Sustainable tourism as an alternative
We cannot continue to develop mass tourism. However sustainable tourism offers, such as travel2change’s, can be the alternative. Travel2change is a form of impact or sustainable tourism, it helps to keep the authenticity of a place given while giving back to the local community.
It is quite simple – travelers get to enjoy unique experiences with low environmental impact, and local communities get to participate and benefit from the tourism industry as revenues go back to the local hosts instead of international corporations.
Benefits of Impact/Sustainable Tourism
-Restoration of the Environment
Volunteers and impact travelers learn how to restore and interact with nature in a low impact. Sustainable tourism makes it a goal to build infrastructure around protection for wildlife.
Without the rich culture, language, music, and stories, places such as Hawaii wouldn’t be the same. Sustainable tourism celebrates and protects local culture; travel2change offers for example guided cultural walks through downtown.
Joining a travel2change activity means you are working side by side with our local community. You will get to understand what the needs of different neighborhoods are and how you can make a contribution with your help as a volunteer.
Travel2change partners up with local nonprofit and for profit organizations (for example Habitat for Humanity, Foodbank, AccessSurf…) who are working non-stop on improving the islands of Hawaii as a home for all of us.
It is not just about to check off places from your bucket list, but to experience a country authentically. Impact activities allow you to build a deeper understanding for a place and it’s communities while having fun exploring at the same time.
-Low Economic Investment
While travel expenses are usually on the rise, volunteering while traveling can safe you some extra dollars. For example: Travel2change offers free, discounted, and donation based experiences. You can’t find anything more budget-friendly.
After all I believe we should continue to explore this beautiful world, however we need to rethink how we travel. Finding a more holistic and sustainable way of traveling will be a win-win situation for everyone involved – for us travelers it means we will be experiencing authentic places with rich cultures, food, music, and being engaged with local communities.
By Doris Masser