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Trending Now: Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable tourism is here – and it’s here to stay.

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has marked 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Exodus HQ is thrilled by the news – but of course we’re shamelessly biased, because we think sustainably is the best way to travel. We’re just glad to see it’s getting the attention it deserves.

Sustainable travel is becoming increasingly mainstream. And it’s no longer about going without the mod-cons; it’s a focus on doing things better. Better environmentally, better for the local community – and, ultimately, better for you, the traveller.

Because the responsible traveller gets to see things that others don’t. Take, for instance, the El Trestellador Pension in the Sierra de Aitana, Spain’s secret winter sunspot. This locally owned hotel isn’t part of some faceless chain, so the money you spend here goes into the local economy and supports the local business. Which is a good way to spend your money whilst you travel, but it also brings you closer to the country and region you’re visiting. At the El Trestellador, mealtimes are made by the wealth of organic fruit and vegetables grown a stone’s throw from the door. This produce is championed by our leader, Jose Miguel, who is part of the soberanía alimentaria (food sovereignty) movement, and spends much of his free time volunteering to help preserve local environment. It’s by staying in accommodation like this, and employing local leaders like Jose, that Exodus supports the places we visit and creates a positive impact. But it gives you the chance to learn about the region from a local, to try the produce and delicacies of the area, and to learn what life is like in the places you visit. It’s such a bonus to you as a traveller – and it’s something we’ve been quietly doing for years.

El Trestellador Pension

But it isn’t just the accommodation. According to a 2017 report by Booking.com, only 5% of global travellers believe it is easy to travel sustainably. But that’s where we’ve got your back. Exodus work tirelessly to ensure all our adventures support local communities and environments. We’ve done the leg work, so you don’t have to.

In 2016 we began campaigning to reduce plastic waste on all our adventures. We began in countries where safe drinking water is an issue, and travellers cannot drink the tap water so resort to buying bottled water to protect their health. The problem comes when we take into account the amount of plastic waste those individual plastic bottles creates. We knew there must be a smarter way to ensure that travellers stay healthy without the environment suffering the consequences.

 Safe drinking water

For that reason we started working in conjunction with our operators and leaders to make sure we found a middle ground. One of the biggest success stories is India, where we’ve reduced the number of plastic bottles by 162,000 due to the initiative in just one year. Instead of giving out one 500ml bottle of water per person, we now use much larger water containers to decant water into reusable bottles each person brings with them. By replacing many smaller bottles with one larger one, we’re able to reduce the amount plastic significantly. When you realise that that number is just one country, over the course of just one year, it becomes clear what an incredible impact we’ll be able to have overall.

For more tips on how to avoid bottled water but stay safe whilst travelling, check out our Myth Busting blog.

It’s these little and often things that make a difference. Switch speed boating for snorkelling and you’ll not only reduce pollution, but get a window to an underwater world you won’t spot from the deck. Every time you take to two wheels or two feet for your transport you reduce your carbon footprint. Even something as simple as making sure you don’t litter makes a difference – making sure that the view you leave behind you will be just as pristine and beautiful as the one you saw when you arrived.

Hot air balloons over Bagan, Myanmar

Ultimately, sustainable tourism should be about what it adds to your holiday, not what it takes away.

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