Ecotourism: glacier viewToday’s travelers are increasingly savvy about their environmental impact on destinations.  In fact, according to the Center for Responsible Travel, green travel is expected to rise to 25% of the world’s travel market.

“Consumers are demanding higher environmental standards in all parts of their lives, including travel,” says Emily Deemer, marketing and sustainability manager at Virtuoso tour operator Natural Habitat Adventures in Boulder, Colorado.  “Ecotourism makes business sense because it helps to preserve a travel company’s greatest assets: the environment, the culture, and the livelihood of host communities.”

Natural Habitat became a 100% carbon-neutral company in 2006. It uses alternative fuel vehicles, reusable water bottles (saving 20,000 plastic bottles annually), and local sourcing. “Ten years ago, most travelers didn’t know what the word ecotourism meant; now clients ask what our policy is on plastic water bottles or whether our food is locally sourced and organic,” comments Deemer.

Another green travel star, Virtuoso property Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Wolgan Valley, Australia, has maintained carbon-neutral status since opening in 2009. Building awareness among guests is a key part of the Emirates Wolgan Valley experience. “Our guests are constantly exposed to the conservation work we do, during wildlife safari tours, nature walks, mountain biking and horse trail rides,” explains general manager Joost Heymeijer.green travel - hiking

Ange Wallace, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Amelia Island, Florida, notes that more cruise lines are designing itineraries to match the tastes of green travelers: “Expedition-style cruising is very much at the forefront with the addition of Silver Expedition ships, National Geographic Explorer and Orion, Un-Cruise, Compagnie du Ponant and others adding more beds to the luxury expedition market.”

Jean Pickard, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Atlanta, Georgia, launched her business catering to adventure travelers, and has observed more luxury brands integrating ecotourism practices. She finds great joy in sharing eco-friendly destinations. “I’m working on a trip to Malaysia for a couple in their early eighties,” she says, with jungle hikes and a visit to a tea plantation on the itinerary. “The client appreciates that I’ve taken the next step to learn what a company is doing in terms of ecotourism.”

Interested in a vacation that’s great for both you and the environment?  Contact your Virtuoso travel advisor for help – or find an advisor at www.virtuoso.com.