An Industry Answers the Call

Kenneth Shapiro It’s never easy trying to predict what the future may hold, as we attempt to do in this issue’s cover story, “Going Green” (page 10). Months ago, we asked writer Anne Burke to research how a travel agent’s business is going to change in the next 10 years due to global warming and environme

By: Kenneth Shapiro

It’s never easy trying to predict what the future may hold, as we attempt to do in this issue’s cover story, “Going Green” (page 10). Months ago, we asked writer Anne Burke to research how a travel agent’s business is going to change in the next 10 years due to global warming and environmental changes scientists say are taking place. After all, if global warming as a reality or a perception is becoming a greater factor in clients’ spending decisions, then regardless of what you personally believe about the issue, it is in your interest to incorporate the fundamental ideas of ecotourism into your business.

Of course, all tourism impacts the environment in some way. It is one of the unfortunate facts of our business that the more people we expose to the world’s great places, the more difficult it becomes to preserve these places.

In this matter, I side with Richard G. Edwards, chief marketing officer for Montana-based Austin Lehman Adventures, who says in our story, “Traveling is the way that people connect and care about each other in a global sense. How are you going to get people to care about the planet if they haven’t seen any of it?”

Tourism might be a strain on resources, but it is also the most effective way to help people appreciate different cultures and places. So many times I hear about a person’s entire outlook changing because of a travel experience. It’s a portal through which we can truly grasp the interconnectedness of us to our fellow human beings as well as us to our planet. I’m also very proud of the way the travel industry has responded to this environmental call to action. We’ve clearly been more proactive than just about any other industry. Every day, I receive at least five press releases announcing a new program or initiative aimed at mitigating the effects of tourism or encouraging a new way of thinking about our environment. There’s a change in how we view our environment, and tourism is on the cutting edge of that movement.

Along those lines, I’m proud to promise you that TravelAge West will not be left behind in this regard. Just like the story says, “Conservation begins at home,” and we’re looking at all our business practices to see what we can do to be greener. As part of that initiative, we’re currently developing plans to switch to recycled paper as of next year. In addition, our parent company, Northstar Travel Media, has already taken steps so that two of its other titles, Travel Weekly and M&C, will be printed on recycled paper as well. (M&C has already made the switch in fact.)

So regardless of where you stand on this topic politically, keep in mind that the smart business choice is to learn all you can about green travel, and that small individual choices can lead to monumental change overall. K.S.

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