In January 2020, Norwegian Cruise Line will rid all its ships of plastic water bottles. In busy Venice, small-boat tours minimize eco-footprints and connect guests with local artisans (proceeds also support Venetian arts and social-welfare programs). And in Brazil, Virtuoso on-site connections are partnering with a local NGO that works with native Kayapo communities to help protect their territory and heritage. The need to preserve the world’s ecosystems and cultures has the attention of the travel industry, which is pivoting to more sustainable practices. In some areas, the efforts are already paying off: In India’s Madhya Pradesh state, for example, a Safari lodge in Kanha National Park reports that sustained conservation efforts are helping protect endangered tigers; their population has more than doubled since 2006 to nearly 3,000 animals.
To help travelers make conscientious choices, as a Virtuoso advisor I point clients toward travel operators that care for the environment, local cultures, and economies. My clients are very excited to hear that they can make a difference in a local culture during their travel. I only use suppliers that are committed to the environment and communities.
The phenomenon of overtourism has led cities such as Venice to levy a fee on day-trippers and Dubrovnik to limit cruise-ship calls. In response to overcrowding, the “undertourism” movement takes a positive approach to spreading out tourism’s footprint – for instance, by visiting the walled Adriatic city outside of summer’s high season or heading to Croatia’s more distant, lightly traveled regions instead.