Gavin Tollman, CEO of travel company Trafalgar, lives in Switzerland, where he can see the glaciers of the Alps literally shrinking before him. With June being Environment Month, we chat with Gavin to see how a well-planned itinerary can help us be kinder to the environment – be it people or nature.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO TRAVEL IN A SUSTAINABLE MANNER?
It is to be careful so as to protect our increasingly fragile world – from helping to preserve the cultural heritage of places we visit, to working with locals to protect their natural environment and empowering them to reap benefits from travellers that visit their countries.
WHAT SHOULD TOURISTS TAKE NOTE OF?
Do not travel without trying to understand and embrace the places you visit. Learn about the culture of the place, and engage with locals in a meaningful way. Do not stop at city centres. The best places are the surrounding, outlying areas. Appreciate lesser-known towns and consider travelling during all four seasons to appreciate natural beauty. When you visit places that are, or when they are, less crowded, you are alleviating pressure on the natural environment.
WHAT ARE SOME SUSTAINABLE TOURISM PROGRAMMES THAT TRAFALGAR HAS INTRODUCED?
The Treadright Foundation supports over 50 projects that protect people, wildlife and nature. Join Trafalgar is its initiative, which aims to sustain the livelihood of locals, such as using local guides who are passionate about their communities. Be My Guest connects travellers with locals, so the former can understand local life through a different lens. We have also eliminated the use of singleuse plastics, and use 100 per cent recycled paper, and fuelefficient coaches for our trips.
RECOMMEND US A TRIP THAT TICKS ALL THE BOXES FOR SUSTAINABLE TOURISM.
Travellers should visit Africa with Trafalgar. Seeing nature and humanity in its pure, perfect balance helps one realise just what matters. Getting up close with wildlife provides our guests with a great opportunity to fully understand the importance of preserving and protecting Africa and those communities with whom we engage. Consider a 14-day Namibia Explorer itinerary, where our guests stay at a wildlife sanctuary, the Zebra Kalahari Lodge.
What you can do when travelling
• Opt for e-documents as it can help to minimise deforestation.
• Bring your own reusable water bottles. The mobile app Tap helps find the closest place to refill them.
• Reduce carbon footprint with coach travel; this reduces the number of cars on the road.
• Travel with an operator that is committed to sustainable practices and supports local businesses.
TEXT ELIZA HAMIZAH