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Responsible Travel – Organizations That Give Back and Make a Difference

November 30, 2010



Image courtesy of Duluth News Tribune cc license

Environmental and social responsibility in travel is a hot topic and for good reason. Through technological advances we can now travel to previously inaccessible places. Wonderfully, it’s now relatively easy to visit foreign lands and cultures that our great-grandparents could only experience second-hand through books and adventurer’s tales. But this contact has brought its own hazards. While we now have access to virtually the whole world, the impact of that access has damaged some of the very lands and people that we find so appealing. It has become vital to reduce the negative environmental effects and to protect and improve the standard of living of the indigenous people if we want to sustain these travel privileges for future generations to enjoy.

Many of us make an effort to carry out responsible practices in our daily lives, and we also have choices when we travel. Here are some travel organizations that have programs in place that make a difference to the environment or social landscapes where they travel.

1)      Micato Safaris changes lives in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya through AmericaShare. The non-profit organization funded by Micato helps “orphaned and vulnerable children get a quality education, assists women in creating businesses to support their families, and helps to provide care for those affected by HIV/AIDS.”  

2)      Big Five Tours & Expeditions runs the Spirit of Big Five Foundation which is committed to “sustainable tourism through conservation, poverty alleviation, education and healthcare initiatives in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.”  

3)      Tauck World Discovery’s World of Giving supports “collaborative efforts in conservation, cultural and historical preservation of treasured sites upon which tourism depends and protecting fragile places in perpetuity.”

4)      The Sandals Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International. The largest tour operator in the Caribbean harnesses their “passion, energy, skills and brand power to tackle issues under three broad headings, Our Community Our Education Our Enviroment.” 

5)      The Cruise Industry has widely adopted environmental policies to reduce the impact of the industry on the marine ecosystems and oceans, waste reduction and fuel disposal.  Some of the lines that have programs in place include: Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, M/V Galapagos Explorer II, Orion Expedition Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International.

6)      Marriott Hotels is dedicated to a five-point environmental strategy that focuses on “rainforest preservation; reduction of water, waste and energy consumption; greening its supply chain; building greener hotels and engaging employees and guests to take action.” They also devote significant resources to social issues of children’s vitality, shelter, and food programs such as SOS Children’s Villages, Habitat for Humanity, and Feeding America.   

7)      Other Hotel Chains who have social and environmental programs in place Include: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotel Corporation, InterContinental Hotel Group, Joie de Vivre, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

8)      There are many Voluntourism organizations that offer travelers opportunities to help with everything from animal rescue to home-building projects, environmental work to humanitarian endeavors. If this type of hands-on helping is for you, be sure to choose the organization or project carefully. The Ethical Volunteer provides a good checklist to help you choose the right voluntourism organization. 

9)      Another excellent resource for sustainable travel is Travel Green, produced by the U.S. Travel Association. This site lists many more travel suppliers and industry associations that have committed to environmental and social responsibility.    

Whether traveling for business or vacation, it is imperative that we be mindful of the impact on our world. By supporting these and other organizations that give back, each of us can make a difference.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2010 3:13 pm

    This is a great list. Thanks for spreading the word about responsible travel.

    • December 2, 2010 3:31 pm

      Thanks, Lacy. Responsible travel is important so we can all continue to roam, learn and experience. I hope everyone who reads this will spread the word by passing it on! – Beverly

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