02 December 2011 by Julienne du Toit

Green Traveller Mysteries

One of the greatest growing markets in travel is the ‘green traveller’. This is typically a well-educated person, financially comfortable, and acutely aware of the environmental issues around travel.

At a recent conference in Johannesburg, called Environmental Management in Tourism, this rather mysterious traveller was discussed often, but he or she still remains something of an unknown.  What does he or she want of a destination?

It’s a question of some urgency for those in the travel industry, which has been hit as hard as any other by the recent recession. Particularly so since this niche traveller is likely to become mainstream not too long from now.

With climate change already taking hold, and resources dwindling, it’s quite clear that only environmentally-friendly businesses will survive. The same is true for the travel industry.

Green Travellers make choices on destinations based on the environmental status of destinations and services. Yet unsubstantiated ‘green’ claims are being made all the time.

South Africa is one of the world leaders in responsible tourism, but sometimes progress has been patchy. It’s precisely for this reason that the National Minimum Standards on Responsible Tourism came through just at the right time.

South Africa’s relatively green status is something that will have to be built upon. If this is where travel is going, we will have to be at the forefront to compete.

And that mysterious green traveller must be decoded, and soon.

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