Responsible, Regenerative and Sustainable Tourism: which term suits us best?

16_Feb_2021Vision

There are as many labels for the concept of sustainable tourism as collective creativity is able to create. Let’s not focus on which form of tourism is better or worse, but rather work on making tourism in general more sustainable, by making the right decisions and taking the right actions.

After being included among the organizations on Global Shakers’ 40 Leaders in Sustainable Tourism, we were asked to clarify the differences in terms and practices between responsible, regenerative and sustainable tourism. This has stimulated an internal discussion between our ambassadors and experts based in different countries, which we now want to extend to the audience of our supporters all over the world.

turismo sostenibile sustainable tourism

What are the differences between Regenerative, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism?

According to our specialist, Pedro Sánchez, Sustainability Consultant and local Ambassador, there are as many labels for the concept of sustainable tourism as collective creativity is able to create: “Agrotourism”, “Active Tourism”, “Eco Tourism”, “Equality Tourism”, “Responsible Tourism”, “Healthy Tourism” or “Fair Tourism” – just to name a few.

However, coming up with new names for tourism and defining new niche-tourism groups doesn’t bring more value to the initial philosophy of sustainable tourism, nor dos “Regenerative”or “Responsible” tourism seem more relevant than others, dozens of kinds of tourism forms and manifestations that are focused in one or the other field within Sustainability. Furthermore, “sustainability” is a wide concept and international community agreed to take it as the way to include all the 17 fields of sustainability in order to make efforts more impactful and recognizable.

To me – says Pedro Sanchez – the definition “sustainable” is wider than e.g: “social”, “ecological” or “economical”. At the end of the day a “social project” is a “sustainable project” but not every “sustainable project” is “social”.

sustainable tourism

Photo Credits: Stand Up Campaign, Flickr

Does sustainable tourism need yet another sub-category?

In recent times, we conducted a worldwide online survey with 1000+ prospect Guests and Hosts to better understand their perception towards sustainability and sustainable tourism.

‌Both Hosts and Guests claim to have a huge interest in sustainability: 52% of Guests and 47% of Hosts marked their interest in Sustainability with 10 out of 10 points (Average Rating Guests: 9,1; Average Rating Hosts: 9,0). However, in terms of priority Guests rank sustainability 3rd (after location and authenticity) when renting a place. Even though ‌49% of the interviewees (Guests) consider the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a selection criteria when booking online, the other half of the respondents had troubles to understand how the 17SDGs are connected and deployed among holiday rentals.

For us this is a clear call to action to focus more on the education about the 17SDGs and their feasibility for both travelers and tourism providers instead of introducing further definitions that may cause additional confusion and distract people from the initial mission. Let’s not focus on which form of tourism is better or worse but rather work on making all forms of tourism more sustainable by helping people make the right decisions and taking the right actions.

Inevitably, this includes educating people what is and what is not a sustainable approach which leads us to a third question.

turismo sostenibile

Photo Credits: elkhiki, Flickr

What are the biggest indicators that an organization or activity is a sustainable choice for a traveler?

To be honest, that’s a tough question! The term “sustainability” has become a very popular word. It’s a synonym for a lifestyle that has not only become necessary but also highly “en vogue” among people and companies.

Unfortunately, greenwashing has become a common technique of product and service providers, trying to get people’s attention without showing real commitment to the cause. And besides all the ambiguous companies that obviously try to trick people, it’s also hard to draw the line and to clearly state what can and can’t be a sustainable choice. Is traveling around the world with a jumbo jet to a remote “sustainable” yoga retreat a more sustainable solution than spending a weekend at a conventional, local, luxury 5-star hotel? At Fairbnb.coop we approach this issue in three different ways.

  1. We inform people and raise awareness about the necessity of sustainability and thus, sustainable tourism. We provide educational blogposts, start cooperations with like-minded initiatives and participate in several global projects to support the movement towards a shared and circular economy.
  2. We lead with example. At Fairbnb.coop we pledge our work to make tourism a driver for positive change. We are convinced, that working on the bigger cause, keeping the philosophy of sustainable tourism in mind should be our utmost priority and we hope to inspire others with our disruptive business model.
  3. We are proud to provide community powered tourism as a sustainable alternative to conventional holiday rental platform. Furthermore, we believe in the 17SDGs and plan to integrate them more into our cooperation by educating our hosts about the deployability of the goals and making them a hygiene factor of our cooperation on the long term.

Stay in touch – and stay safe!

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