We believe responsible travel can make the world a better place, and sustainability is a major factor when choosing our partners. Our travel experts are enthusiastic, local professionals who help design your ideal travel experience while trying to involve the local population as much as possible. This way we make sure you have an authentic travel experience, and the local people have a fair and direct source of income.
Tips for responsible travel
Travel is a wonderful thing, and tourism contributes to the economic welfare of a country. But travel can also have some negative side effects on nature and local communities. It’s good to keep this in mind, and choose responsible travel options whenever possible.
Responsible tourism is about:
– Creating job opportunities for locals
– Preserving local culture and nature
– Respecting local culture
– Fair treatment of animals
– Minimizing pollution
– Small-scale (e.g. accommodation)
Sustainable Development Goals
Our fair and green travel tips are centred around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as Global Goals. These goals were set in 2015 by the UN with the aim of making our planet a better place to live by 2030—by ending extreme poverty, inequality, injustice, and climate change. In order to achieve this, we need cooperation among companies, social organizations, governments, universities, schools—and you, the traveller!
We have chosen to focus on a number of SGs where the travel industry can has a particularly significant impact.
Goal 1 – NO POVERTY
The first and most important goal is ending extreme poverty—the biggest challenge of our times, according to the UN. Extreme poverty is classified as someone living on less than $1.90 USD per day. Tourism provides an important source of income in many countries and regions around the world; it creates job opportunities in the hotel and restaurant industry, transportation, and many other sectors. In some countries, tourism has become the most important branch of their economy.
Community Based Tourism (CBT)
Community Based Tourism (CBT) enables the local population to share the benefits of tourism in their region. This type of travel makes it possible for the local community to escape the drawbacks of mass tourism (overcrowding, pollution, depletion of resources), while contributing to job opportunities and development in the region. At the same time you, the travellers, are given the unique opportunity to get to know the locals and find out more about each other’s worlds. And let’s face it, isn’t that the reason you wanted to travel in the first place?
GOAL 8 – GOOD JOBS AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
In many countries around the world, having a job doesn’t mean an escape from poverty. Goal 8 focuses on providing decent work to everyone, contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic growth. This means everyone who can work, is provided with the opportunity to do so under proper working conditions. These jobs are intended to stimulate economic growth without harming the environment in the process.
For Better Places Travel, this means using local tour guides, and focusing on small-scale hotels, homestays and eco-lodges, whenever possible.
Making responsible choices may sound complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. When it comes to accommodations, for instance, be responsible by choosing small-scale lodges in beautiful areas that operate sustainably. You’ll have plenty of choices when travelling with Better Places, such as the Danpaati River Lodge in Suriname, Sambor Prei Kuk in Cambodia, or the Refugio Amazonas in Peru.
Goal 12 – RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION
Goal 12 is related to the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources. The world’s production patterns need to improve to encompass our growing population, ultimately allowing us to ”produce more with less.” To us, sustainability is about preserving nature and culture, and showing respect for the local culture and customs.
This means all tours booked through Better Places are offered in a responsible manner, always in keeping with nature and the local population. A few such tours we offer are the Sugar Trail in Suriname, a Mountain Vibes community tour in Jamaica, or the Khayelitsha township tour in Cape Town.
Goal 13 – CLIMATE ACTION
One of the most important issues facing our world today is climate change. Climate change literally crosses all borders; leaving no country unaffected. Reaching Global Goals is an important way of combating the negative effects of climate change that more and more countries are having to face: droughts, extreme storms, and floods. Airline travel creates jobs and income around the world, but unfortunately it also produces CO2 emissions. Airline travel is responsible for the lion’s share of CO2 emissions caused by long distance travel. The carbon footprint of your in-destination journey can be limited if you use sustainable, small-scale accommodations, eat in local restaurants, and limit your in-destination airline travel.
Carbon neutral travel
When booking through Better Places, you are travelling carbon neutral. We compensate not only the in-destination travel you book through us, but also the emission of the international flight you took to reach your destination – ensuring complete peace of mind when you travel. To compensate for all emissions, we make use of a carbon calculator (CARMACAL) that calculates the emissions per leg of the journey. Better Places makes your trip carbon neutral by investing in more efficient cooking stoves in Ghana. Read more about carbon neutral travel here.
GOAL 14 – LIFE BELOW WATER
Oceans (their temperature, currents and underwater life), which cover three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, are the motor of global systems that make our planet livable. Our drinking water, weather, climate, coastline, food and even the air we breathe are dependent on the sea.
The aim of this goal is to increase economic advantages for smaller island states and the least developed countries by promoting responsible use of marine life through sustainable fishing, aqua culture and tourism.
Better Places is committed to ensuring the preservation of life below water by cooperating solely with responsible and certified marine tour operations, and contributing to limiting single-use plastic water bottles through our partnership with the social enterprise Dopper.
GOAL 15 – LIFE ON LAND
Preserve, repair and encourage the sustainable use of ecosystems, manage forests responsibly, tackle and turn back the clock on desertification and land degradation, and fight against the loss of biodiversity.
For us, this translates into small-scale tourism with no damage to nature or culture, and ensuring the local population also reaps the benefits of tourism.
This means the guides that accompany all our tours are well-acquainted with local nature and culture, and can inform you, the traveller, about the do’s and don’ts of sustainable tourism.
It also means we only have animal-friendly excursions as part of our travel experiences. We have opted against offering elephant rides in Thailand or swimming with dolphins in Jamaica.
Goal 17 – PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS
In order to reach all goals by 2030, governments, companies, citizens and organizations will need to cooperate. As part of this, Better Places has made agreements with our local travel agents about the way in which they operate.
All our local travel partners are Travelife certified, or in the process of obtaining their Travelife certification. Better Places has been Travelife certified since January 2017. In order to qualify for the Travelife certificate, a travel organization needs to meet specific criteria for internal policies, management, product range, trade partners and consumer awareness; pledging a lasting commitment to sustainability.
Better Places & Dopper
Everyone who travels with Better Places in 2018 will receive a free Dopper water bottle, which is BPA-free, sustainable, and refillable.
Dopper was designed to reduce the use of plastic water bottles and encourage people to drink tap water, whenever possible. The bottles have a simple and stylish design and are easy to clean. For every Dopper purchased by Better Places for your use, the company will donate a part of the profits to the Simavi Foundation: a health organization working on improving the safe drinking water situation is some of the poorest countries around the globe.
Together with our local travel experts, we are going to make sure you can refill your Dopper at as many locations as possible during your travels. This can be challenging in some countries, but we’re taking it one step at a time. More and more countries that do not have clean running water are coming up with initiatives to reduce plastic waste. See here for examples and more detailed information.