Expert Advice: Why Sustainable Tourism Matters
Jean-Philippe Platroz is one of the most-travelled people in the world. Having visited 170 countries and territories, he ranks #3 in his home country of France. Recently retired, he spent the past 38 years working in the travel industry. Now, his foremost priority is spreading the word about sustainable tourism.
He spends his time on Adamandia, a passion project to help war-torn and other developing countries with no visitors, to enhance their tourism. He also continues to travel, hoping to explore every country during his lifetime.
Visit.org recently sat down with this travel expert to discuss why he is adamant that the world begins moving towards sustainable tourism. Read on to find out more.
Sustainable tourism benefits developing countries
Jean-Philippe believes that when someone has traveled as much as he has, they come to “modestly know the world.” One lasting insight he has gotten from his trips is that sustainable tourism helps those in need.
In particular, sustainable tourism will drive developing countries’ economy. With civil war, unrest, and epidemics affecting developing countries, Jean-Philippe says, “We can start the engine again by using tourism.”
With sustainability at the center, tourism can affect multiple realms of locals’ lives. He says, “Tourism is linked to everything, in a way. From protecting biodiversity, to improving business and hospitality.” He goes on to say that it develops the “lateral economy” of a country by directly helping small business owners, local artisans, and street vendors.
Sustainable tourism widens the perspective of travelers
Not only is Jean-Philippe a prolific traveler, he’s also an extreme one. He enjoys traveling to remote areas where “you will fight for basic needs like water or cleanliness.” While he acknowledges that most people are not eager to push themselves to those limits, he encourages them to push their limits nonetheless.
“Get out of your comfort zone,” he says. First: travel. Then, it will be inevitable to see the need and impact of sustainability. “With a global perspective, it becomes obvious,” he explains. “You see the same problem of global warming in Artarctica as you do in Greenland. You can see it in the South Pacific and the Carribiean.”
Especially with a sustainable approach, travelers get to authentically connect with the culture they’re visiting. Thus, they learn to care about people unlike themselves. Whereas remaining in their comfort zone, or participating in mass tourism leads one to detach from the world around them, and only consider themselves.
Sustainable tourism offers a global solution
Although the results of our global issues are various — we do share the same problems across the world. Thus, sustainable travel is a way to come together to create a global solution. “The policies that are working in Bhutan can work in Lesotho because they’re both mountainous regious, even though they have very different cultures.”
Sustainable tourism benefits the travel industry
It may not seem like it now, but mass tourism is reaching its limits. Jean-Philippe says, “You cannot continue to develop mass tourism” because countries are beginning to see that this kind of tourism is likely to “destroy the biodiversity of the environment.”
Additionally, Jean-Philippe sees that “more and more people are concerned about the way they are traveling,” opting for sustainable tourism instead. These conscious travelers “are traveling not only to rest, but know, discover, and change.”
Of course he knows that most people still choose traditional mass tourism. “They don’t care that much about where their food is coming from, what type of transportation they will use, how this impacts the country,” he says.
But the hope is in us! “You and me are the actors; the watchers are the future tourists. We have to teach them and involve them.” This is a great responsibility for early adopters of sustainable tourism. Because our choice to share our knowledge will “define what will be the future of humanity.”
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