Our well traveled intern, Adrienne, has written another great blog for us about her VolunTourism trip to Peru. Read Adrienne's previous posts about the struggles and benefits of ecotourism and the return of the travel agent.
Travel businesses are finally beginning to see a positive pattern in travelers since the US economy dropped in late 2008. Not only are the various sectors of the industry seeing growth, but also the travel agent is becoming a hot commodity yet again. Instead of waiting until the last minute to book flights and hotels for a vacation, people are beginning to book trips months ahead of time, specifically for the summer, demonstrating the hope that some have for this recovering economy.
The Leisure Traveler
Travel agencies have seen a rise in business as people are ready to spend money on travel again. It seems there is a bigger desire to have a connection with someone, instead of something (the Internet). The American Society of Travel Agents reported in February 2011 that 51 percent of agencies saw their revenue increase, while 49 percent saw a rise in transactions since 2009. If travelers are going to put their extra spending money towards a trip, they want to make sure they get the most out of it, and the solution for that problem seems to lie in the hands of the travel agent. Whether communicating through email, over the phone, or face-to-face, the personal experiences that are delivered from the travel agencies help people feel more comfortable and reassured about their destination and travel plans. An agent is able to compile all the things the traveler wants to do with the places they want to see to create a custom tour that they’ll remember forever.
Despite the rather unfortunate conditions of today’s economy, tourism is growing closer and closer to becoming the world’s largest industry. Just from 2008, international tourist arrivals were up 6.5% in 2010 to 935 million, and that was after the country with the highest GDP entered a recession. With rapid development occurring worldwide, there is a growing concern for the negative impacts of mass tourism. Sustainability and ecotourism have become essential aspects of the travel industry. However, many times travelers are unaware of exactly what sustainable travel entails and how to incorporate it into their itineraries. As travel companies begin to jump on the green travel bandwagon it can be difficult to decipher which ones truly embrace sustainable travel, by not only minimizing the negative environmental aspects of travel but also contributing the local economy and communities, and which ones are simply claiming to be greener as a marketing plow. Through a series of ecotourism blogs, we will highlight some of the industry trends and changes currently occurring to give travelers a better understanding of what it means to travel sustainably.