“We haven’t inherited the earth from our forefathers; we have borrowed it from our children,” said Lester Brown. We have been inviting problems of scorching heat, storms, floods, and even this pandemic, yet being irresponsible towards the planet we live on. Travel has surely been a kind of culprit in degrading the authenticity of the destination. The good news is that it’s getting better. Concepts of sustainability in travel have emerged to the rescue of humankind. Ecotourism has managed to gather attention, but is sustainability the ultimate solution?
If sustainable tourism, which aims to counterbalance the social and environmental impacts associated with travel, was the aspirational outer limit of ecotourism, the new frontier is “regenerative travel,” or leaving a place better than you found it. Sustainability sounds incomplete because at the end of the day it aims at “not making a mess”. On the other hand, regenerative tourism says “let’s make it better for our future generations.” The idea of regeneration talks about building better rather than reducing the worse.
Destinations like New Zealand and Hawaii are talking about shifting towards the quality of tourism over quantity. Overtourism has costed enough natural and manpower resources, not just to these destinations but to worldwide travel spots. Regenerative travel impacts holistically from destinations to community perspective and development and environmental regeneration.
One example to clear out the difference between sustainable and regenerative travel- If you go for an ecotourism expedition, the concept expects you to reduce personal waste for the sole purpose of keeping the destination clean. In the regenerative tour, the R of reducing unfolds including REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE and REGENERATE. It does not just focus on correcting overtourism but also inviting ‘better’ tourism. Sustainable travel, let alone regenerative travel, will still have to find solutions to the carbon emissions produced by air travel. Until the economy recovers, there’s likely to be less travel, more local travel, or slower travel by car, train, bike, or foot. This moment is where regeneration begins.
Image Credits: @explore.northeastindia