Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! From booking “car free” vacations to carbon offsetting and staying at eco-friendly accommodations to only eating local foods and imbibing organic beer and wine, travelers are increasingly taking their green lifestyle on vacation. Sustainability and environmental stewardship are core values of both the Arizona and Oregon tourism offices and we’re both working on a number of stewardship programs—geo-tourism, voluntourism, carbon calculators, electronic downloads—to preserve the unique sense of place of our respective states.

In honor of Earth Day, we want to showcase just a few ways how the travel industry is helping consumers grapple with the issue of climate change and sustainable living.

Just Go Travel Guides – Guidebooks are a staple of well heeled travelers. But do you really have to buy an entire guide book just to browse a few pages? Enter Just Go Travel Guides! Just Go Guides are personal, customizable guides put together by a team of international writers, editors, and travelers. The guides are available in PDF format, and are downloadable to your iPod or mobile device for free.

The best part of this is the interactivity and personalization. Consumers can enter the date of their visit and then pick relevant information (lodging, events, restaurant etc) via their website. Once the site confirms you’re a real person (via text message), the guide is produced and then sent to you. Extending the experience is the fact that once you’re on your way, you can use the interactive guide to rate the places on your guide, contributing to the “collective intelligence” of the guides. http://intelligenttravel.typepad.com/it/2008/03/sustainable-tra.html

Eco-Travel Planners - Both New Zealand and Minnesota have undertaken an interesting approach to highlight places of cultural and natural heritage.

  • New Zealand’s Organic Explorer, offers up eco-friendly accommodations, restaurants, and excursions throughout New Zealand. In addition, the site also features local markets and orchards where you pick up fresh local produce.

  • Minnesota’s Green Routes, a private/public partnership site, helps consumers “discover places to eat where the food is not only fresh from a family farm, but where you might bump into the farmers who grew it…and places to have fun while helping to ensure that our natural and cultural resources will be around for many generations to come.”

    The easy to use Google Map driven site interface allows consumers to actually plot their route through the state and find out a list of things to do along that route. For example, if you’re heading from Brainerd to Fargo, sip fair trade coffee at Village Emporium and be sure to shop at the Lakes Area Farmer’s Market.

Kudos also goes in this category to Dave Neudeck and his team at Virginia who featured eco-friendly events, “no car” getaways and outdoor getaways in their “green” May e-newsletter.

Of course any article on sustainable travel would not be complete without mentioning Kimpton Hotel’s inspirational EarthCare program. Troy and I had the honor of watching Steve Pinetti’s presentation at the recent Oregon Governor’s conference and we were absolutely astounded by the depth to which sustainability has been incorporated into all of the properties….all the way from in-room recycling and organic foods to earth friendly cleaning products and the interior decoration (see a full list here).

As marketers, and more importantly as inhabitants of this planet, it’s our responsibility to take a leadership role in ensuring that travel and tourism does not come at the expense of the planet. To that end, sustainability and stewardship should not be addressed as a “trend” or a “niche product” but a core value that’s ingrained into every fabric of your organization.

To that end, we’re curious…how are you (personally or as an organization) embracing this into your lives?

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.