When we can travel again, what will it look like? How will travel and tourism have changed? How will the pandemic make us think differently about our health — and the health of our planet?
The pandemic has forced us to reconsider a lot of things, so when I sat down with global explorer and sustainability travel pioneer Sven Lindblad, who’s CEO of Lindblad Expeditions (www.expeditions.com), I wanted to know what it’s going to take to get back out in the world — and how we can do it more sustainably. Sven’s thought a lot about both those issues because his company, like so many others in the travel business, was all but shut down by the pandemic.
Communities in beautiful but remote travel locations face a particularly delicate balancing act, made more challenging by COVID-19 travel restrictions. Where ecotourism supported conservations efforts, tourists and their money just about disappeared, creating an economic void that threatens so much of what’s been achieved in recent years. For example, “undertourism" now threatens progress in marine sanctuaries where tourism dollars replaced revenue that had led to overfishing.
But there are changes we can make as we navigate the responsibilities of stewarding both natural resources and the communities dependent on tourism dollars. As I learned in our conversation, these issues are priorities for Sven. He thinks and talks about them with searching curiosity and commitment. He’s made sustainable tourism a focus of his company. And he’s been recognized for his conservation and environmental stewardship over the past two decades, specifically for his work in the Galápagos archipelago.
Could his vision of tourism be how we travel in the future? It would stretch our horizons for sure, but it’s an expedition worth considering.