Can Sustainable Tourism Entrepreneurs Save The Travel Industry?
When you plan a holiday, do you ever stop to think about all of the businesses you’re supporting along the way? Discover why long-term sustainable entrepreneurship begins with you.
Sustainable entrepreneurship, it’s a multifaceted term. The goal of every entrepreneur is to make their company successful, profitable. But what about social responsibility? Doesn’t a business have an obligation to its staff, its consumers, and the planet? If not, shouldn’t that encourage us all to reconsider whom we choose to financially support? In this article, you will get better acquainted with the term ‘sustainable entrepreneurship,’ and learn what sustainable tourism entrepreneurs are doing to help you see the world through a new lens.
Travel is awful
If you’ve been reading the news lately, it seems like all of the joy has left travel. Once upon a time, the journey was part of the experience. Now, it is painfully apparent that the act of travel hasn’t been special since the days of Pan Am, and since both the airline and television programme are defunct, we’re really in trouble. Not that accommodations are any better—you want to bring back souvenirs, not bedbugs. So why has travel lapsed?
- A major airline forces travellers to stow a puppy in an overhead bin. Horrified to witness this, the entire flight of passengers acquiesces because no one wants to get arrested, and be barred from flying.
- Guests fall ill at a misrepresented Cuban resort, and the company offers half-hearted apologies.
These are the things that happen when people just stop caring. There is so much disconnect between the upper echelons of major companies, and the worker bees tasked with the day-to-day, that the entire system has fallen apart. No doubt, a major portion of this is due to the fact that a role in the travel industry isn’t what it used to be. Unless you charter a plane, flying isn’t elegant or glamorous. How could it be when passengers are packed into seats like tinned sardines? Meanwhile, vacationers roll out of bed and throw on sweats to rush to the airport; this doesn’t exactly put one in the mindset of getting ready for a big adventure.
Everything has changed because we have all changed, and if headlines are to be believed—not necessarily for the better. But the thing about progress is that the world keeps moving forward, which means there’s always hope that things can get better. Enter sustainable tourism entrepreneurs…
The new business mogul
Think this industry is just another buzzword? Think again. Sustainable entrepreneurship is becoming so imperative, that the University of Vermont launched a Sustainable Innovation MBA. The goal of modern entrepreneurs is to meet the challenges of business circa now. Sustainable entrepreneurs have to solve problems society has never had to consider before, and figure out how companies can enjoy longevity in a complex interdependent world. Meanwhile, this all needs to be done ethically, and with as little impact on the environment as possible. Easy right?
In the travel industry, sustainable tourism entrepreneurs are changing the game, one player at a time…
“Sustainability is not only about the environment, it’s about the culture, the social fabric of the place and the economic flow of dollars in the local economy,” says Anywhere’s very own CEO Zach Smith. “Locals are the key to meaningful engagement. My purpose is to support what locals naturally want to do—help visitors love and better understand their country.” Although Anywhere’s corporate headquarter office is located in the heart of Seattle, Washington, USA each destination is staffed by locals. That means it’s not hyperbole when we tell you that your questions are being answered by travel experts. Many members of Anywhere’s international team are from the very country’s they work in. But Smith’s mission doesn’t end there, because he knows that it’s going to take like-minded people to help him upend the travel industry.
That’s why he supported Zorinah Juan’s programme “Don’t Be A Tourist With Zorinah Juan.” Her unabashed look at travel strips away the pristine veneer of her high-end counterparts, and takes the viewer on an authentic holiday. The type of vacation an average group of family or friends might expect to have. Stopping to eat at local restaurants. Visiting a waterfall without having been prepped by a hair and makeup team. Riding a horse who needs a potty break (It’s true! Watch the first episode through to the end.). This is the reality of travel, and when you get a glimpse of the real experience it’s impossible to be fooled by Photoshopped brochures. By helping sustainable tourism entrepreneurs like Juan, Smith is shattering the illusion that the best travel experiences are only for the ‘Rich Kids of Instagram,’ and is putting the industry back where it belongs—in the hands of real people.
Sharing the wealth with future entrepreneurs
But he isn’t stopping there. During the filming of Ms. Juan’s show, he also employed an intern named Kendall Scott. Ms. Scott was working in Anywhere’s La Fortuna, Costa Rica office, and was in the midst of earning her Masters in Sustainable Tourism. Smith offered her the opportunity to diversify her experience by becoming a production assistant on Juan’s show, and she jumped at the chance!
“It was a privilege to see sustainable tourism promoted at Anywhere. The [organisation’s] sustainable priorities—particularly in Costa Rica…proved to be a perfect fit not only for myself as an intern and sustainable tourism graduate student, but also as the production partner for Zorinah Juan’s video project ‘Don’t Be A Tourist,’ ” said Scott. She went on to note that, “Zorinah’s efforts have helped turn sustainable tourism concepts into compelling topics that any audience can appreciate. It was an honor to travel and work with her on the project.”
The cycle of success
Whereas businessmen of yore hoarded both success and opportunity, sustainable tourism entrepreneurs know that there’s enough room for everyone. Also, entrepreneurship at its core is about innovation, and innovation is about taking risks. That’s why Smith supported Juan’s show, even though it hadn’t been picked up by a distributor at the time. “We had no idea if Zorinah’s project would come to fruition. However, what made Zorinah different than other people who had contacted us for support was that she had a clear purpose which aligned with our values. She wanted to connect with local people;…see nature;…get to know Costa Rica, and professionally launch a travel show,” says Smith.
In offering Scott an opportunity to expand her horizons, he was supporting the next generation of sustainable tourism entrepreneurs. If the goal of sustainable tourism is to modernise ‘the best of travel,’ then no one person or company can do this—the job is just too massive. Ecolodges, restaurants, farmers, cafés, marketplaces, transportation, all of these individual industries make up the whole of tourism, and that’s what makes sustainable tourism entrepreneurs different from regular businessmen and businesswomen. Large companies don’t pause to take a holistic approach to travel, because they don’t have to. They’re so big that your grievance is a drop in the bucket—you (as an individual) can’t possibly bring them down. But what if we disrupt together?
A better way to travel, in three easy steps
Sustainable tourism entrepreneurs offer you a better way to travel in three easy steps:
1. Trust and care
Because sustainable tourism entrepreneurs are disruptors, even the ‘oldest’ companies still tend to be more junior than even their youngest established counterparts. Which means these innovators have to care about your experience; earning your trust is the only way they can grow. Unlike conglomerates, bad feedback actually can devastate them, but that’s good for you. Sustainable entrepreneurship is ushering in a new era of clientele satisfaction. You are no longer just another dollar sign; you are a traveller with hopes and dreams; friends and a family; this isn’t just another booking, this is your vacation.
2. Altruism made easy
You want to do the right thing. We all do, but let’s be realistic. After a stressful day at work, it’s all you can do to slip on your athleisure. If you have a side hustle, children, or both, then the 9-5 workday hasn’t even ended for you yet. Even if you had hours upon hours to spend on trip planning research, would you really want to? We’ll go ahead and say, “No!” for you (apologies if that was the incorrect answer). However, when you work with a professional travel agency such as Anywhere, you are supporting sustainable tourism entrepreneurs, but you’re also supporting our multifaceted values:
- Reducing the carbon footprint of travel.
- Putting tourist dollars back where they belong—into the hands of the host community.
- Supporting the sustainable entrepreneurs we partner with when you book accommodations, transportation, and activities.
In turn, we offer you :
3. The adventure you owe yourself
Sustainable tourism entrepreneurs want you to have an authentic and memorable experience. Generally, this is built into the way services are offered. Sure, half the reason you go on holiday is to relax, but its also to go on an amazing adventure and gather incredible stories. Although you could sit with a drink in hand at a resort the entire time, we advise against it. As we said in our article “Tell The Best Travel Stories—Avoid All-Inclusive Resorts,” to stay behind the gates of a resort is to cut yourself off from an authentic experience—the sights, sounds, and scents of colourful marketplaces. Swapping life stories with locals. Dining at a family restaurant where a dish has been prepared the same way for 40 years…You can’t get all of that if you’re only visiting with other tourists.
YOU are the most important person in the industry
At the risk of being dramatic, these are uncertain times we live in. Which is why it behooves us all to be more conscientious about how we spend our time, and where we spend our money. Every thing you purchase is currency going toward a larger entity. Do you really know who or what you’re supporting when you book that name brand all-inclusive resort? You would if they were a part of the sustainable tourism movement, because corporate transparency and a clear mission are important to sustainable tourism entrepreneurs.
Travel is an investment; we invest in our own lifetime memories, we invest in the fleeting friends we make, and we invest in the well-being of other human beings when we visit their home country. When you pull out your photo album or review your social media feed, looking at the photos of the sustainable holiday you took offers a very important and silent reminder—in the early years of mass sustainable tourism, you are something of a revolutionary and part of the solution. Like we said at the beginning: long-term sustainable entrepreneurship begins with you.