A look at sustainable tourism
Eco-tourism is becoming very popular, but people often wonder how eco-friendly the companies themselves are. Are they actually operating sustainably, or just ‘greenwashing’ to make a few bucks from tourists? I recently talked to one of the employees at an eco tourism company based in Toronto, called G.A.P Adventures, to find out.
G.A.P Adventures works with local communities, businesses and individuals to develop sustainable tourism opportunities that help local economies while minimizing negative environmental and cultural impacts, and also formed a non-profit organization called the Planeterra Foundation to further accomplish these goals. Planeterra supports community projects, local non-profit organizations and international charities in the regions where G.A.P tours are conducted. The types of projects supported include health, education, community development, environmental conservation, and employment skills training.
G.A.P’s eco-tours are focused on interacting with foreign cultures, rather than exploiting them. Trips introduce travelers to local culture by having smaller tour groups, using local transportation and staying in smaller independent lodging rather than a large foreign-owned hotel. Part of the company’s operating philosophy for eco-tours is to respect the communities in which they operate; socially, environmentally and economically.
How does G.A.P operate back home? The same philosophy which guides their international business operations also guides their home office policies. G.A.P has implemented the following environmental practices:
- $25 monthly subsidy of TTC Metropass
- 100% renewable energy with Bullfrog Power
- Recycled toilet paper and paper towels
- Environmentally-friendly cleaning products
- Biodegradable garbage bags used by cleaning staff
- 100% participation in Clean Air Commute, and awards 2000,2001,2002,2003,2004,2005,2006
- In-progress move to a paperless office
- Bike storage area for bicycle commuters
As concerns for the environment become more widespread, more people are looking to eco-tourism as a way to enjoy themselves on vacation, in a more socially-responsible way. G.A.P Adventures is a leader in the eco-tourism industry, operating every aspect of their business in a socially responsible and sustainable way.