By Laura Knudson
Since 1980, September 27 has marked the observance of the United Nations “World Tourism Day." This day commemorates the date that the Statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organization were originally adopted.
I’ve worked professionally in the field of tourism for nearly a decade. I am Marketing Director for the content marketing agency, GLP Films. We specialize in storytelling for the travel industry and strive to produce and distribute content that supports our mission to make tourism better.
Photo credit: GLP Films - Raja Ampat, Indonesia
GLP Films is currently celebrating our 10th Anniversary. Over the past decade, this mission to “make tourism better” has allowed us to tell some of the most inspiring stories of people and places the world over. It’s any traveler’s “dream job”, but it also connects me in a personal way to the impacts of travel on local economies, environments, and cultures around the world.
So, why do we travel?
Travelers, now more than ever, are becoming informed of best practices in sustainable and responsible tourism. They’re able to choose from a variety of trusted tour operators, hotels, airlines, and service providers. According to the UN, international travel is at an all-time high, with 1.32 billion travelers worldwide in 2017. Whether for business or pleasure, all travelers have an important role to play to ensure that impact is a force for good.
How can tourism positively impact the planet?
For starters, the World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that 1 in 10 people worldwide (roughly 298,000,000) were employed in the tourism industry in 2017. That is a huge number of livelihoods potentially impacted.
Furthermore, the tourism industry is entirely dependent on the longevity, or sustainability, of the places we visit. Overtourism, or over-crowding, natural resource depletion, wildlife extinction, and loss of indigenous cultures, are just a few of the challenges facing the tourism industry. But travelers have an important role to play by making responsible choices in their travels. Travelers can choose responsible and accredited tour operators, hotels, and providers that hire locally, build up local communities, and protect the people, environment, and cultures (Note that you can read more about accredited and certified sustainable tourism programs here).
Photo credit: GLP Films - Kosovo
At GLP Films, our role in making tourism better is through storytelling. We use the power of storytelling through video and marketing to raise awareness of the best travel companies and experiences around the globe; companies that travelers can feel good about because they are good stewards of the environment, build up communities, and protect the integrity of indigenous cultures. If those things are lost, then we have no reason to travel.
To commemorate World Tourism Day and share a bit of insight in our 10 years of experience in travel, here are some of GLP Films’ top picks for sustainable travel choices--companies we know, trust, and highly recommend:
1. SeaTrek Sailing Adventures (Indonesia)
The best way to experience the 1500-island archipelago of Indonesia, SeaTrek Sailing Adventures puts stewardship of local culture and environment, sustainability, and authentic travel experiences at the heart of their business. They’re also making huge strides in helping to eliminate plastics and plastic waste through ongoing conservation and waste programs for both their guests and communities where they work.
2. Mountain Lodges of Peru (Peru)
Mountain Lodges of Peru offers off the beaten path lodge to lodge hikes to Machu Picchu and Lares Valley in Peru, in addition to other authentic Peru excursions. Their treks offer an alternative to the overcrowded Inca Trail, while their services respect rich Andean culture, employ locally, and give back through their nonprofit, Yanapana Peru, focused on social and environmental responsibility.
3. Inkaterra’s Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (Peru)
Inkaterra Hotels have been a pioneer in sustainable tourism in Peru for over 40 years. Their commitment to biodiversity and conservation at Machu Picchu and beyond is unparalleled, including a spectacled bear conservation program and the largest native orchid collection in the world.
4. Abercrombie & Kent, Sanctuary Retreats, and LifeStraw (Kenya)
A unique take on tourism that gives back, Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy partners with LifeStraw to bring clean drinking water to more than 7,000 Maasai children through their tourism programs and safaris with Sanctuary Retreats in Kenya.
5. Andaz Mayakoba Resort (Mexico)
A goregeous resort with a unique twist! The Andaz Mayakoba resort is built around the natural mangroves in the area, letting ecology dictate the design, and bringing man and nature together in an eco-friendly setting.
Let your travel be a force for good!