Heather Magnussen, our responsible travel manager, aims to ensure that our trips have a positive impact on the people and places we visit. In light of current unprecedented challenges, she talks about how, as a travel-loving community, we can continue to show our support.
With international travel at a standstill, the travel industry, and so many small businesses that rely on tourism dollars, are in need of some hope. I’ve been carefully following the impact on the travel community and have been touched by how many people have been in contact, wanting to know the best way to show support. While we can’t, and shouldn’t, hop on a plane and go back to the way things were immediately, here is a short list of some actions we can take today to make a difference.
Don’t give up on your travel plans
If you’ve seen your travel plans impacted, postponing your trip goes a long way to show support and send signs of hope to the hotels, guides and communities that depend on travel. The revenue from future bookings will enable them to keep running the businesses they love, to ensure they’re still around for your return. Many of our favorite lodges use their revenue for essential community or conservation projects, and are having to choose between these and protecting employment of their own teams. The financial loss in 2020 is staggering, but it is future bookings that will enable them to hold on until tourism returns.
Reminisce on past travels
Relive your best travel experiences by leaving online reviews for the hotels, restaurants and guides that you remember fondly. Positive reviews go a long way to help them secure business when visitors return. If it was an Audley trip or specialist you remember best, we'd love to share your story with our online community. You can submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Get travel planning
Had a long-held desire to plan a road trip, an island-hopping odyssey or head out into the wild to spot a rare species? Now is the time to make those dreams a more tangible reality. Pick up the phone to talk to someone who’s been there, start collecting information and forming plans. Our specialists can create a detailed trip based around your dream, ready for you to take action when the time is right.
Support local business
Finally, and much closer to home, support those companies in your own community that have been equally impacted by the loss of visitors. You might find a new type of cuisine that inspires your next trip.
Share your love of nature
National parks and private reserves depend on proceeds from visitors to continue their conservation work. Show your support for these custodians of nature by reading their blogs, watching their videos and following your favorite parks and reserves online, where they'll have specific ideas for supporting their cause. And of course, if you can, head into the fresh air for a hike.
'We are more similar than we are different'
In my career in responsible travel, I've learned to not underestimate the trickle-down impact our decision to travel can have on so many people who've dedicated their careers to the industry, as well as on our own lives and world views.
The most obvious impact is financial, and as we’ve seen when travel comes to a halt, it’s felt by everyone. One in ten jobs is related to travel — from the guide who helps you discover that local delicacy and the family running your hotel, to the custodians of the sights you explore.
Travel provides pathways for so many people — whether that’s studying hard to become a knowledgeable guide or making handicrafts using techniques passed down through the generations. It’s also a matter of gender equality. Women account for around 60% of the travel industry workforce, and in countries where women struggle to get equal access to jobs, travel provides an opportunity to start bridging that gap.
Then there’s travel’s ability to create dialogue and learn other points of view that just can’t be matched virtually. Travel builds hope, builds personal connections and fosters understanding between cultures.
During an Audley trip to Morocco, I spent time with a Berber family in the High Atlas Mountains. The grandmother taught me how to make a tagine and laughed merrily at my profound inability to chop vegetables without a peeler. It’s those moments of human connection I’ll always remember.
So what’s the most important thing I’ve learned through travel? That we are more similar than we are different, and travel is essential in helping us get a better understanding of how other people live and dream. When this has all passed, I hope we can appreciate, just a little more, the difference travel makes in our lives, and those of so many others.
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