2017 VAST Catalog - 34

Tea plantation, Uganda, Africa.

Travel Matters
Sustainable tourism is more important now than ever. Here's why. By Costas Christ
The statistics tell it all: Last
year, over 1 billion tourists contributed more than $7 trillion
to the global economy, and
tourism is forecast to grow
each year for the next decade.
To help ensure that growth
presents opportunities to
alleviate poverty, safeguard
cultural heritage, and protect
nature, the United Nations
has declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable
Tourism - calling on the world
to embrace responsible travel.
Costas Christ, Virtuoso's
director of sustainability,
says sustainable tourism goes
beyond green travel initiatives
- it also encompasses the
economic well-being of local
people, heritage preservation,
and saving rare and endangered species. Travel can
be a powerful catalyst for
education and increased


awareness: When you see a
place with your own eyes,
meet its people, and directly
experience its natural and
cultural offerings, you're more
likely to connect and care
about what the future holds.
"When travel improves local
people's lives, particularly
in the developing world, we
also see positive impacts for
their economy, culture, and
the environment, from less
poaching of wildlife to less
deforestation from slash-andburn agriculture," Christ says.
Here, he talks about what
sustainability really means and
how travel can help transform
and protect our world for
future generations.
One of the most significant
transformations under way in

T H E W O R L D I S VA S T. G O E X P L O R E .

travel today is the understanding that we can have the trip of
a lifetime while also caring for
the local people and nature in
places we visit. Sustainability
is not a trend, but rather an
evolution of travel. Travelers
have more places to go and
more ways to get there than
ever before, and with that
comes an even greater responsibility to preserve the world's
cultural and natural treasures
for future generations. There
were more than 1 billion international travelers last year;
that's a billion opportunities
to make the world a better
place, and the way to get there
is by embracing sustainable
tourism best practices.
That's also why Virtuoso
launched its Sustainable
Tourism Leadership Awards
in 2011 - to shine a spotlight
on how the preferred tour

companies, hotels, cruise lines,
airlines, and other specialty
partners are changing travel in
innovative and inspiring ways.
In addition, a growing volume
of recent research studies,
including by the World
Travel and Tourism Council,
indicates that travelers prefer
companies that are committed
to conservation and social
good. Virtuoso travel advisors
can attest to this, as many
report rising interest in travel
with meaning.
Whether it's watching a family
of wild elephants gathered
at a water hole on the plains
of Africa or listening to the
melodious chanting of monks
in a mountaintop monastery
in Bhutan, when we travel the
right way - the sustainable way
- we are investing in a better
and brighter future for the
planet and our children.


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of 2017 VAST Catalog

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