Giving back to Mother Nature
by Andrew Mevissen
Rapid advances in technology, transport, accessibility and social media sharing mean more of us are travelling everywhere. In 2018, a record 1.4 billion people travelled to an overseas destination- two years ahead of forecast. With growing concerns about the footprint being left behind at popular tourist destinations, the importance of sustainable and eco-friendly travel is continuing to rise.
The definition of ecotourism adopted by Ecotourism Australia is – ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.
As opposed to the masses of tourists at well-known commercial hotspots, eco-tourism focuses on smaller groups at lesser known, relatively undisturbed natural areas. The focus here is on showing guests amazing locations and wildlife as well as emphasising the importance of responsible tourism, conservation and helping to improve the well-being of local people through enhancing the integrity of their local culture and providing economic opportunities.
Small ship cruising is one of the most sustainable forms of tourism. Unlike their big ship counterparts, small cruise ships offer the ability to travel to sensitive natural areas such as Alaska or the Sub-Antarctic Islands, with unobtrusive navigation and are usually accompanied by experts in the region who offer travellers insight and education on conservation, history and wildlife.
Small cruise ship expeditions to some of the world’s most pristine natural environments are enhanced with the use of Zodiac excursions. To limit their footprint and aid access without obstructing the natural surrounds, small cruise ships use Zodiac boats to give guests the most intimate experience possible. For example, the Snares Islands in the Sub-Antarctic region beneath New Zealand is one of the world’s most pristine locations. Abundant with wildlife, access ashore is forbidden to protect the sensitive habitat. Zodiacs allow guests to get as close as possible to this once-in-a-lifetime location without upsetting the fragile habits ashore.
Another advantage of small ship cruising is the way shore excursions can immerse guests in some of the world’s oldest cultures. One of the drawcards of sustainable tourism is improving the wellbeing of local people whilst also emphasising, celebrating and witnessing the traditions and rich history of their culture.
Known for its serene landscapes and incredible wildlife, the Canadian Arctic region is also home to many local cultures that have lived and survived in the region for generations. Many cruises of the Canadian Arctic region include a traditional welcoming by the Inuit community of Mittimatalik, located on the northern tip of Baffin Island. Here, guests will see, learn and take part in the valued traditions of the local Inuit, whose history in the region trace back 1000 years.
Managing Director of small cruise ship specialist, Cruise Traveller, Craig Bowen said: “Ever since I visited Antarctica for the first time in 2004, I have been enthralled by the pristine beauty of nature but I have also seen, first-hand, how fragile the environment is and how important it is to protect. That’s why I have committed our company to combating the negative effects of mass tourism.”
“I feel we have a responsibility to use travel as an opportunity to showcase both the stunning experiences that nature provides but, most importantly, to educate guests on the challenges that these amazing destinations and their inhabitants – both humans and animals – are facing. We are committed at Cruise Traveller in helping to find solutions to the mounting pressuers our planet is facing.”
“The small ships we represent offer the most eco-friendly way of exploring pristine natural environments ship.
“Cruise Traveller prides itself on showcasing cruise lines that have strong ethics in sustainable travel and give our guests unique and intimate holidays to incredible destinations,” Mr Bowen explained.
He said Cruise Traveller supported a number of specific projects such as Sailing for Good, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Polar Bears International, Worldwide Wildlife fund and also Clean Up Australia Day which the whole Cruise Traveller team participates in every year.
Cruise Traveller also allows every staff member to take one day off year to assist in a charity or cause of their choice.
“The community section of our website outlines the many ways we like to give back to the environment. We and our clients are enriched so much by the wonders of nature so these measures are the least we can do to give back,” said Mr Bowen.