If we want to help construct a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable way of traveling, though, this is exactly what we need to be asking -- not just ourselves, but the hosts, companies, and providers also need to be held accountable. Everyone involved in the sector should be thinking about how to help contribute to and develop rules and practices that will put sustainability at the top of the tourism agenda
Obviously, plenty of people in the industry are thinking about this already. In Overbooked, Becker quotes Luigi Cabrini, UNWTO expert on sustainability and chairman of the board of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, who explains,
We have to get away from the idea that sustainability is just ecotourism with five people alone walking in a forest. We need models of good practices. …we need ethics codes, guidelines, statistics, and data that helps the industry, and to work with business, education, governments. That mean also looking at pollution; environmental degradation; the corporate cultural monotony of tourist establishments; international tourism that undermines local economies and dealing with the sheer number of tourists. In the end, tourism plays an important role alleviating poverty, widening appreciation of different cultures, as informal diplomacy and exchanging wealth from the rich to poor nations.
This is where you, the traveler, come in.
Tourism and travel, like any marketing-dependent industry, cares intensely about your experience and what you want (unfortunately, often more than what the locals want, but that's what we're trying to fix here). This makes sense if you think about it -- how do you make most of your travel decisions? It's usually through recommendations, either from friends, friends of friends, or review sites and resources like TripAdvisor or an online travel guide forum.
Providers and tourism-dependent businesses pay a lot of attention to what travelers want, and they adapt to fit those demands -- that's how marketing works. This means that, as travelers, we have a lot of power to shape and affect the industry. If we all start demanding more sustainable practices, and supporting local businesses, communities and regions that are on the cutting edge of this movement, the rest of the industry will have to respond if they don't want to lose your money.