<a href="http://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/blog/17#">Eco Travel</a>

Eco Travel

On the path to responsible travel, with Louise Southerden.

"Geo-experience" the new travel buzz

hiking in the grand canyon

Credit: iStockphoto

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People from all over the world involved or interested in sustainable travel gathered in Adelaide this week for the inaugural Green Travel, Climate Change and Ecotourism Conference.

Put on by Sustainable Tourism Australia, a national organisation covering the ecotourism industry, a diverse mix of projects was announced or discussed including:

  • Three major wildlife corridors and 19marine parks to be created in South Australia by 2010.
  • New and continuing eco-certifications to identify sustainable tours, destinations and accommodation.

One of the most contentious issues discussed was carbon offsetting. Some people saw it as the strongest answer to saving the world because it is a measureable quantity, which is required within governments' future 'carbon economy'.

For others, offsetting is merely one tool and doesn't let anyone off the hook in the ongoing task of actually reducing our carbon footprints in many other ways.

Other discussions centred on how travellers and operators can cut their carbon emissions and environmental footprints and how travel can be more involved with local cultures

Trends included:

  • Travel is becoming more sustainable. Yay!
  • The word 'eco-tourism' has been used so much in so many different ways that it has lost much of its meaning. Many people believe the word is now almost redundant and that 'geo-tourism' is a better word to encompass traveller who seeks more natural experiences. Thus we will see the emergence of 'geo-parks' offering 'geo-experiences'
  • Also some travel accommodation will soon be offering discounts for not using the usual level of energy and water during their stays.

These types of conferences are very useful and the seeding grounds for change and meaningful projects. Adelaide's location, linked by rail to every mainland capital city, meant that many people could travel by train, a greener transport.

Thus I found time on the nine-hour trip on the Overland from Adelaide to Melbourne to mull over the ideas, information and projects put forward by some passionate people who are making it easier for us to lessen our footprint.

-- Phoenix Arrien