Making the transition to a sustainable business is no longer just a trend. It is now an urgent and essential task to tackle the climate crisis and meet the commitment to reduce carbon emissions. Tourism is a major contributor to global climate change and the sector is forecast to grow over the coming years. To manage tourism growth responsibly, urgent steps are required.

Important efforts have been made to date, including the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) and the Call to Action for Decarbonisation of Shipping, supported by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Many European tour operators like Intrepid and Better Places are B Corp certified and have joined forces to take action on the climate emergency through the B Corp Climate Collective.

Consumer demand for sustainable travel

Despite economic uncertainties and the high cost of living that is impacting livelihoods all over the world, consumers are increasingly keen to travel more sustainably. This not only means they might choose to take the train rather than fly, but also behave more sustainably while travelling, such as reducing waste, avoiding single use plastics and have a more authentic, immersive experience that has a positive impact on local people and places. 

Regenerative tourism takes sustainability one step further. Although closely linked, regenerative tourism aims to make things better than they were before, a concept that is rapidly gaining traction.’s 2023 Sustainable Travel Report found that 66% of people wanted to leave the places they visit better than when they found it, while 69% wanted the money they spend when travelling to go back to the local community. These findings prove there is a market of tourists deeply committed to sustainable travel where it is readily available.

But there remains concern that not enough is being done. Other findings in’s report concluded 74% want travel businesses to offer more sustainable travel choices, 51% believe there are not enough sustainable travel options, and 40% don’t know where to find tours and experiences that give back to local communities.

The new way to travel – transformational and experiential travel

Transformational travel gathered pace after the pandemic as people re-evaluated their lives, began to understand what was really important to them and took steps to adjust their work-life balance. It coincides with a strong and growing awareness of the issues that affect us all today – the health of the planet, the urgent need to reduce the harm we do to the environment and making positive impacts to local communities all over the world.

Transformational travel encompasses all sorts of concepts – meaningful travel, regenerative travel, volunteering, cultural exchanges, learning a new skill, doing work placements, experiential travel and so on. The very nature of transformational travel hinges on sustainable and regenerative practices to achieve the aim of personal growth, self-discovery and transformation and having an experience that is personally fulfilling in all sorts of ways.

Transformational travel is one of the fastest growing niche markets, driven by growing a demand for unique, authentic experiences that are also transformative. More and more travellers are seeking to escape mass tourism for its commercialism, exploitation of local resources and communities and lack of personalisation. The increased interest in sustainability and responsible tourism has also contributed to growth.

Looking ahead

By 2030, sustainability and regeneration in tourism will be the norm. Sustainable travel options like electric vehicles and train travel will be more affordable and readily available, while technology and biofuels will be transforming the air and cruise sectors. Most tourism experiences will be clearly marketed as sustainable and there will be measurable benefits to local communities and places.

Sustainability will be commonly embedded throughout the hospitality industry, including accommodation and food and drink establishments. Options like ecolodges and homestays, especially those managed by local communities and featuring a whole range of regenerative activities will be highly sought after.

Tourists themselves will lead the charge towards a more sustainable future, having a directly positive impact on a destination through their choices. CBT and volunteering, enjoying authentic slow travel, staying locally and for longer, and participating in meaningful interactions with local people and places will be popular options for this new breed of sustainably minded tourist.




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