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Tis' the season for predictions about the year ahead.
And given the skyrocketing interest in eco-friendly travels of late, it's no surprise that predictions about 2020 have grown to include insights about emerging sustainability trends.
First out of the gate with its 2020 forecast is activist travel company Responsible Travel, which has just released its top picks for the sustainability travel trends we'll likely see becoming more prominent over the next 12 months.
"2019 has been the year of responsible tourism," says Responsible Tourism. "As issues of sustainability have come to the boil, we have seen everyone from David Attenborough to Prince Harry getting in on the act. From Greta Thunberg and flyskam-or flight shaming-to Extinction Rebellion and the global youth climate strikes, travelers worldwide are taking stock of their environmental impacts."
So what's next if you love to travel but care deeply about the world, nature and wildlife? Here's a closer look at 2020's emerging eco-friendly travel trends.
Flying Less and Making Holidays Count
The flight shaming movement is apparently having an impact. A recent UBS survey showed 16 percent of Brits and 24 percent of Americans will fly less in 2020, according to Responsible Travel.
At the same time, recent results from Eurostar have already shown that people are traveling by train more, says Responsible Travel, and it's a trend that's expected to continue in 2020 with rail travel leaping ahead. The movement may be helped along by tour operators who begin making it easier for travelers by offering to book train tickets instead of flights.
"Voluntary changes to our travel habits are not enough," says Responsible Travel CEO Justin Francis. "Personally, I think 2020 will be the year that aviation begins to start having to pay its way. With the EU seriously considering a tax on aviation fuel, France already introducing an eco-tax on flying and the UK government's advisors on climate change pushing hard for measures to manage demand, new policies to address aviation's long-enjoyed free ride are approaching. And it's not a moment too soon."
According to Responsible Travel, more travel brands and companies will also be offering holidays in "off" or "shoulder" season to avoid the crowds. It's a shift that will help ease all of the challenges associated with overtourism, including impacts on the local environment and infrastructure.
"As the overtourism backlash continues, both destinations and tourists will look for ways to experience places without the prohibitive crowding associated with peak season. Heading in 'off' or 'shoulder' season gives you more time and space to enjoy the tourist sites, and more chance to interact with locals and get to know the destinations," says Responsible Travel.
Bio Positive and Wildlife Tourism - Tourism in the Fight Against Mass Extinction
A fascinating and hopeful new development, more tourism businesses are using incomes to protect land and habitats for some of the world's most endangered species, says Responsible Travel.
"The loss of biodiversity is beginning to bite; we are experiencing the next great extinction," says Responsible Travel. "More and more responsible tourism businesses are beginning to use incomes to protect land and habitats for some of the world's most endangered species, realizing that the future of tourism depends on it. Educating local people and the next generations on the importance of biodiversity is also crucial."
If you're not yet familiar with the term "rewilding," you're not alone. Responsible Travel says it's a word that is beginning to sprout up all over the place.
"Tourism businesses worldwide have a role to play in restoring landscapes and helping to reintroduce species of wild animals that have previously been driven out or exterminated," said Responsible Travel.
To that end, more and more tourism businesses are helping to reintroduce species that have previously been lost in destinations around the world.
This is a particularly encouraging development given the significant impact tour companies and travelers can have on destinations, taking responsibility for helping to restore such places is a positive step forward.
Pro-Nature Hotel Menus
In what will likely be welcome news for vegans and vegetarians the world over, accommodation menus are offering less meat and dairy as well as finding lower waste solutions, says Responsible Travel.
"The carbon footprint of a holiday is far from limited to the flight. In the year ahead, customers will demand-and hotels will offer-a lower meat, lower food mile, lower waste, and more ethical and fair-trade menu," says Responsible Travel. "This will include less palm oil, less animals products, and more innovative farming and food growing solutions."
Vertical Gardens or 'Green Walls' in Guesthouses and Hotels
Visually stunning, vertical gardens or green walls are popping up everywhere lately, particularly in recently opened or trendy hotels and restaurants.
"In cities or where space is of a premium, vertical gardens are all the rage," says Responsible Travel. "A 'green' wall-positioned vertically and filled with plants and foliage-can be a stunning backdrop for any sustainably designed space."
Mia Taylor is an award-winning journalist who has two decades of experience. Most recently she worked as a staff writer for...
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