Sustainable tourism is growing in popularity, with internet savvy travelers opting to take experiential trips that boost local economies and respect the environment rather than exploit them.

This exciting shift in global travel is largely attributed to consumers who are better informed and genuinely want their travel dollars to help protect the environment and culture of the areas they visit. This new generation of almost philanthropic traveler wants to enjoy a holiday that preserves important heritage sites, respects the local people and creates employment with living wages.


There are various ways people strive for sustainable travel and different ways in which sustainable tourism is described. The most common terminology and definitions for each include:


Travelers are careful in choosing a trip so that it conserves the environment and offers local people better lives through fair wages related to tourism.

Sustainable tourism

The focus is on a minimal impact to the environment of the travel location while also respecting the local culture and traditions and benefiting the local economy.

Responsible tourism

Travelers are mindful to respect the environment, heritage, culture and history of the destination country. They are careful not to exploit the cultural resources or their hosts.

Community-based tourism

Travelers spend quality time in communities, living alongside the locals and adapting to the customs as they learn about the culture. They are careful not to exploit local resources and the intent is to foster understanding of cultural differences while at the same time improve the local economy.


Travelers spend their holiday time and tourism dollars to enjoy a travel experience that includes volunteering to help the local environment in some way. Popular for everyone from students to honeymooners to seniors, voluntourism offers a plethora of opportunities to help the poor or work to protect endangered animals.


At the end of April 2013 Bruce Poon Tip, a former native of Calgary and the founder of G Adventures, hosted the Future of Tourism multimedia event in his hometown to raise awareness of sustainable tourism.

In a Calgary Sun article about the event, Poon Tip explains how travelers are the ones who can drive significant global change through choosing sustainable tourism. He says: “I believe there is no faster path to peace than people getting to know the way people live. I think there’s a lot of horrendous things happening in the world because of ignorance and lack of understanding of other cultures. I’m a real believer that tourism can be that vehicle for people to have a bit more compassion.

“I’m also a believer that tourism is going to generate $10 trillion in revenue annually in the next decade, and, if business models are right, it could be the single biggest form of wealth distribution that the world’s ever seen.”


If you want to learn more about sustainable tourism, here are the key organizations advocating for this growing trend in tourism:

  • The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) is an organization of more than 700 global members, all of whom advocate for sustainability and justice.
  • The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is an initiative active in Africa, the Americas, Middle East, and East Asia and the Pacific to promote sustainable tourism practices.
  • The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is the oldest and largest ecotourism association with members from around the world all working to promote responsible travel.
  • The Planeterra Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by G Adventures that aims to support socially and environmentally responsible tourism.
  • TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Program, which makes it easy to find hotels and B&Bs that are committed to green practices like recycling, water efficiency and alternative energy.
  • The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is a worldwide council that seeks to foster long-term benefits through tourism for natural, social and cultural environments.

Brent Purves Marketing and Stir Tourism are pleased to contribute to sustainable and responsible tourism by supporting projects dedicated to improving quality of life for people around the globe. We have partnered with Charity Water to help provide clean drinking water and Kiva to help alleviate poverty through small loans that help local start-up businesses.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
– Mahatma Gandhi