Eco-tourism is hot right now and there is a growing market for travel agents specializing in eco-friendly trips, tours, and vacations for families, business travels, honeymooners, and more.
However, with the rise of eco-tourism have come many “greenwashers” hoping to capitalize on the popularity of eco-tourism without going the extra mile to protect the environment and local communities. Green travel agents can help concerned travelers tell the difference between true eco-tourism and greenwashing.
Green Travel Basics
Some issues to think about as a green travel agent include:
- Transportation. The biggest ecological impact of most trips is caused simply by getting there. A single long-distance flight can cause as many carbon emissions as an entire year of commuting by car, and cars aren’t exactly known for being the most eco-friendly vehicles on the planet either. Green travel agents seek to minimize the impact of travel by booking transportation on more eco-friendly forms of transport, such as trains or biodiesel-powered buses, or assisting customers with finding a carbon offset program to offset their emissions. Some green travel agents specialize in booking bike tours and other truly green forms of travel.
- Lodging. Many green travel agents have partnerships with green bed & breakfasts, hotels, hostels, and other accommodations that offer eco-friendly lodging.
- Food. Some green travel agents assist customers with finding trips that cater to vegetarian or vegan lifestyles or other dietary restrictions. In some cases, providing information about restaurants, markets, and other sources of fresh, local food for travelers is another way to help clients minimize the impact of their trip.
- Volunteer and educational travel. Many travelers interested in eco-tourism are looking for a vacation that’s more than just a relaxing getaway. They want to make a difference in the world at the same time. Green travel agents can assist travelers with booking volunteer or educational travel through one of the many organizations now offering such trips, or they can help travelers plan their own.
- Adventure travel. Another area of interest for many green travelers is adventure travel. Green travel agents can assist with booking eco-friendly adventure travel tours and other trips that get out in the great outdoors without disrupting natural ecosystems or causing other damage.
You can educate yourself and gain professional certification in green travel planning and eco-tourism through eco-tourism education programs now being offered by various universities and organizations, including the Certificate in Sustainable Tourism Management from the International Ecotourism Society, the MS in Sustainable Tourism from East Carolina University and the Center for Sustainable Tourism, and more.
Three Green Travel Agencies For a Trip As Green as It Is Memorable
responsibletravel.com is a web-based green travel agency founded in the United Kingdom. The site contains an extensive international listing of eco-friendly destinations and tours that travelers can book with the company. Each holiday listing includes a description of the trip, the trip’s itinerary (if known), a detailed description of the trip’s ecologically and socially responsible features, ad reviews from fellow travelers. The website also hosts the travel question and answer social network iknowagreatplace.com.
Green Earth Travel is a green travel agency specializing in vegetarian, vegan, and eco-friendly travel around the world. Based in Maryland, Green Earth Travel’s website contains an extensive list of vegetarian and vegan friendly bed & breakfasts, hotels, spas, tours, and other vacation packages.
The Travel Specialists is a full service travel agency committed to promoting international understanding and cooperation through environmentally and socially responsible travel. Founded in 1986 by a former Peace Corps volunteer, The Travel Specialists have more than 20 years of experience planning green trips for individuals and groups alike.
Main Image Credit: Alaskan Dude