(Blue Ocean Network.com – October 24, 2014) — Suppliers and Sellers of Travel need to learn about sustainability – what it is, why it matters and its growing importance to their clients, customers and guests, according to speakers at the 2014 ASTA Global Convention.
Sustainablity is Misunderstood
“In many cases, sustainability is misunderstood,” said Peter Greenberg, CBS News travel editor. Greenberg led a panel discussion on the ramifications for travel sellers of consumers’ fast-growing interest in sustainability. “Everyone says they support it, but they don’t understand what it means.”
Andi Pearl of the Pew Charitable Trust offered one definition. “Sustainability is humans living in concert with nature,” said Pearl, director of campaigns and policy for Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy program.
Blue Halo Zones
Pearl’s role is to help countries protect their waters by creating marine parks. “We are all connected to the ocean. Based on current practices, the ocean and the creatures in them are not sustainable,” she said.
Pearl is currently working to create a “blue halo” around Bermuda that would establish a 50-mile donut-shaped swath where marine life is protected from fishing and pollution. She is also looking to protect nine other sites around the globe.
Blue halo zones will be a boon to tourism, with their protected waters becoming, in effect, new destinations for travelers, Pearl said.
“By helping protect waters, you entice tourists,” said Pearl. “Not all tourists are interested, but next gens and millennials are going to want to visit places that steward their waters.”
Small choices matter
For travel agents, sustainability “is all about making choices,” said panelist Stephanie Wear Pintado, director of economic development for Tenerife off the coast of Spain. “Who are your suppliers? Small choices make a big difference.”
Agents can build “customized options for your clients that will make them appreciate what they’re doing and what their impact is,” Pintado said.
Tenerife has invested in creating fully sustainable lodging and locally sourced sustainable shopping for tourists who visit the island. “Why buy a shirt that all the world has when you can go to a local boutique and get something truly unique?” asked Pintado.
Vote with your wallet
Greenberg urged agents to become more informed about how the vacations they plan affect both the environment and local communities around the globe. “We can vote with our wallets, once we have the information,” said Greenberg.
“It is about understanding how sustainable travel benefits you and your clients,” said Greenberg, who called sustainable travel one of the fastest-growing areas in travel.
by Andrew Sheivachman, Travel Market Report