We live in a global and connected world and by no means, we can neglect it. Over the last few decades, distances were shortened, communications improved, borders faded away and intercultural exchange became a part of our daily lives.
We are, more than ever, citizens of the world and many of us live by the motto “to travel is to live”. Therefore, traveling has increased exponentially over the past 60 years and became a global trend: it is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the daily life, as it gives us the chance of discovering new places, languages, accents, foods, and ways of life.
However, and besides its undeniable virtues, tourism and the travel industry also have many disadvantages, both socially and environmentally, that balance the scale. This massive industry, present all over the world, can cause long-term damage to a destination if there’s a lack of sustainable and responsible management of resources.
The good news is that, if we address these disadvantages correctly, we can minimize their effects drastically. Moreover, an increasing number of globetrotters are becoming more aware of this dramatic reality and are aiming to be more conscious and sustainable travelers.
Impactrip, as a responsible tourism operator, is no stranger to the problems this industry may cause and, since 2015, is trying to change the way people travel, offering and promoting meaningful experiences that deeply respect the uniqueness and character of tourist destinations. Thus, the Responsible Tourism Experiences (RTE) were created to all those travelers looking for an enriching and authentic experience, away from mass tourism and with the add-on of leaving a positive social and/or environmental impact on the destinations.
With that, Impactrip has partnered up with hundreds of local projects and organizations that fight against several social and environmental problems to create transformative experiences not only for travelers, but also for the communities and destinations they visit. Visitors can join these RTEs all over Portugal (including the delightful Azores Islands) and activities range from a zero-waste cooking class to discovering the preserved old traditions of a small village in the middle of the country.
All the experiences have the main goal of giving back to the host communities, while enhancing their well-being, improving working conditions and making positive contributions
to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage. Also, Impactrip promotes a set of eco- friendly initiatives to help everyone becoming a more conscious and sustainable traveler: refusing plastic straws, carrying reusable bags, shopping in small local stores and eating seasonally are just a few examples of small (but meaningful!) actions that Impactrip encourages all their clients and staff members to take.
Impactrip, as a certified B-Corporation (a business that meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance and works toward reducing inequalities, lowering levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and creating quality jobs with dignity and purpose) is aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over the last 5 years, the company has striven to give tourists the chance of actively contributing to this bold agenda that sets out a global framework to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change until 2030.
As a result, Impactrip’s Responsible Experiences contribute towards these goals, because all of them are based on equality for all, saving the planet and economic prosperity.
For instance, during the Cascais by Art tour (Lisbon) visitor will get to know the story of a neighborhood that has united diverse ethnicities and generations through art and that nowadays it’s an open-air art gallery. Since the tour guides are youngsters from a local group, participants will be contributing directly to SDG 8 - Decent work and economic growth – making this social business more dynamic. Another possibility to get to know Lisbon in a different perspective is taking A Walk for Diversity, a walking tour through Mouraria, Lisbon’s most multiethnic neighborhood. Nowadays, migrants make up around 30 per cent of this local community and in this urban tour, the guides are nothing more but migrants that will share their most personal and cultural stories. So that, Impactrip has partnered up with this integrative project to Reduce Inequalities (SDG10) and poverty (SDG 1) in these needy communities.
We can also mention the Green Guardians of the Forests environmental program, that takes place in the fascinating Sintra Natural Park, where nature lovers get involved with the recovery of ecologically degraded areas, through the restitution of native forests to restore ecological systems. Needless to say, this experience is a major contribution to the achievement of SDGs 13 – Climate Action – and 15 – Life on Land – because it encourages participants to take actions to combat climate change and also to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.
As our world is composed of 71% of water, Impactrip also wants to create a positive impact on the ocean. Travelers can eco-dive in different locations, from the crystal-clear waters of the Azores to the light blue ones of the Algarve. Taking part in any of these wonderful experiences gives the possibility of connecting the thrill and beauty of Ocean diving with learning what one can do to protect and preserve our precious Life below Water – SDG14.
In short, all these are Partnerships for the Goals (SDG 17), since Impactrip is joining forces with local organizations so that we attain a successful sustainable development for all, placing people and the planet at the center.
As you see, there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to experience a different way of getting to know a new country and culture. We indeed live in a multicultural world, but travel with caution and respect to the local people and nature is possible. Incorporating the SDGs in our next travel plan, and looking for meaningful responsible experiences in the places we visit, that will imbalance the downsides of tourism, are great ways of making the difference and contribute to a more sustainable world.
Lastly, Impactrip envisions forming a global community of people wanting to be the change they seek in the world and that also believe that we’re responsible for each other and future generations. So, these Responsible Experiences are a mean to a greater and lasting end: Impactrip ultimate goal is that everyone who takes joins these experiences can also create a positive and meaningful impact in their communities.
Maria João Gens is a young professional from Porto, Portugal.
She has studied Foreign Languages and Business Relations and is passionate about other cultures, travelling and (good) food. A full-time dreamer (and hard-worker!), she's trying to be the change she wishes to see in the world through path of Sustainability, Education, Responsible Consumption and Personal Development.