Are Americans Too Spoiled for Eco-Travel?

Nancy W. Potter

We Americans are, quite frankly, a spoiled lot. We want strawberries in December, we put on a sweater when the blasting AC becomes too cold, we drive SUVs to the mall to buy things we don’t need, and then haul the stuff we no longer have room for to storage. We buy bottled water, for God’s sake, when municipal water is nearly free and must undergo more rigorous filters and testing. But we’re also good hearted — we want to do well in the world, if it’s not too much of an inconvenience. Please and thank you.

An article in Travel Weekly proclaims the death knell of sustainable travel. Apparently, we’re just not into giving up wi-fi (in some places, staying connected requires polluting generation). We want unlimited yogurts and high thread-count sheets.

From the article:

Robyn Stalson, USA manager at Giltedge, agreed but said that for the most part, among U.S. travelers, sustainable tourism is more about raising awareness. “During 2016 and 2017 awareness of ecotourism and responsible tourism has steadily climbed due to extensive media coverage as well as exposure to the unethical and unnatural outcome of close encounters between people and wild animals. The movie “Blood Lions” raised a lot of awareness,” she said, referring to the 2015 documentary that exposed the practice of “canned” lion hunting in South Africa.

Although Stalson explained that currently very few travelers are asking specifically for an ecotour or an itinerary that is predominantly about conservation or sustainability, their interest level is elevated when informed about such products. She is upbeat about the future and said: “Perhaps 2018 will be the tipping point, and we will see a strong trend among American travelers choosing sustainable activities, products and tours.

But here’s the thing: We are still at the end of an era when sustainable travel is an option. Only when we’re at the verge of collapse will we see it as necessity. Why do we take so long to learn? The hard way? I think we’re better than this.

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