Travel, as we know it, changed with the pandemic. From a total halt and deafening silence in airports to stringent restrictions that saw airlines flying at half or less capacity, the tourism industry has been one of the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic—and the industry is only just picking its pieces up.
After the industry revived from the months of complete shutdown, it did not meet customers the same way; while some had learned to adapt to the times and still continue to take vacations safely, others have chosen to ditch air travel until it is entirely “safe” to do so. Yet, others have taken to regenerative travel, rethinking how travel is affecting our environment.
Regenerative travel is a rather modern concept in travel that seeks to answer the question of how air travel is impacting our environments and communities, and how we can leverage travel to address these concerns. Regenerative travel simply answers: how can travel be more meaningful and do less harm to our communities?
The travel hiatus created by the coronavirus lockdown allowed everyone, including consumers and suppliers, to rethink travel and become more conscious of how communities benefit or suffer from travel activities.
According to the World Meteorological Organization’s Air Quality and Climate Bulletin, air quality improved dramatically during the lockdowns when greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from energy production, were down considerably. Analysis revealed that the drop in travel, manufacturing, and other sources of toxic greenhouse gases, led to about a 40 percent decrease in toxic air chemicals. Likewise, the research found a considerable drop in water and noise pollution in all regions of the world during the lockdown, contributing to improved health of the environment while we all stayed at home.
These changes got a lot of people thinking; seeking creative solutions to how our daily activities were harming our planet and how we can rejuvenate our environment while going about our daily routine.
The pandemic, therefore, became the perfect springboard for regenerative and sustainable travel, which promotes leaving a place better than you found it.
Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) has designed a set of quality metrics that will redefine wellness travel and sanitize the space. It is no longer business as usual. The GHA WellHotel Accreditation boosts confidence for your teeming clients not only that an organization is committed to their wellbeing and overall guest experience, but also that you have adopted the highest standards of environmental sustainability and eco-friendliness.
The GHA Wellhotel Accreditation evaluates a hotel or a resort against 18 quality metrics that border on leadership and management, environmental sustainability, communications and guest services, and an organization’s standard operating protocols. The accreditation and seal demonstrate to potential guests that your organization is committed to the three core values of GHA Wellhotel Accreditation, which are to prepare your staff to deliver a safe and trusted guest experience, mitigate potential risks, and maintain sanitation and eco-friendliness.
Accreditation has become a useful metric and guide by which guests and clients choose their hotel or resort destinations. This third-party validation gives a swift evaluation of how a hotel or resort meets the growing demands for wellbeing and sustainability.
Hotels and resorts of all kinds need to up their game to remain key players in the industry and attract the current pool of health-aware and environmentally-conscious clients. Large resorts including Aonang Princeville Villa Resort and Spa have keyed into the program, to demonstrate their readiness to pursue global best practices on wellbeing and sustainability.
Governments have also begun paying closer attention to the benefits of environmental sustainability and how travel affects it, empowering tourists who want to modify their lifestyles for the good of the planet
New Zealand, for example, has taken regenerative travel to a new level, with the country’s official tourism body, Tourism New Zealand, inviting all visitors to take the Tiaki Promise, a promise to take care of New Zealand, its people, its culture, its land, its seas, and nature. The pledge says “While traveling in New Zealand I will care for land, sea, and nature, treading lightly and leaving no trace; travel safely, showing care and consideration for all; respect culture, traveling with an open heart and mind.”
Likewise, in the Philippines, visitors are offered to stay on the resort Island of Boracay, a chance to preserve the land with the “oath for a better Boracay.” The government closed the Island for months to rehabilitate it and recreate it into a more sustainable destination for residents and visitors. Boracay is known for its pristine white beaches and lagoons, with enthralling sights and sounds to attract visitors worldwide.
In Kenya, the Spirit of the Masai Mara, a luxury lodge, allows its visitors to plant trees after their stay. The hotel only receives fresh food supplies and vegetables from the local community body and the vegetable garden within its premises, as a way to preserve its resources and enrich the land and local communities.
Kauai, one of the oldest Hawaiian islands, is also adopting regenerative tourism. The island released its Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP) with a strong focus on sustainable travel that ensures that the benefits contributed by the visitor outweigh the resources they consume. The goals of the DMAP span over the next three years, changing the direction of travel from over-tourism to intentional tourism that will improve the quality of life for Kauai’s residents.
Svart hotel in Norway, the world’s first energy-positive hotel, is shifting the paradigm in energy consumption and building an energy-positive, low-impact hotel, producing more solar power than it could need.
Although regenerative tourism is still in its infancy, needing more countries and destinations to adopt the model for environmental sustainability, the pandemic has given it a great push and more travelers are becoming more mindful of their impact on the planet. The travel industry will no doubt be disrupted by this growing awareness, and more destinations will recreate their models to keep eco-friendliness and sustainability at their core.