Sustainable Travel Agents Make Impact, Educate

Sustainable travel aims to yield a net beneficial gain, or render at least neutral, every aspect of the travel process. When rating elements of a travel plan, from booking flights online to hotel operational policies, everything is considered. At one time, sustainable travel was the domain of tree-hugging environmentalists, out to get travel suppliers. Now, Earth-friendly travel agents are making it their mission to educate consumers.

Andrea Dixon and Lindsay Batchelar founded Green Motion Travel in 2010, making sustainable tourism the prime focus of their Canadian travel agency. Batchelar, an experienced travel consultant, and Dixon, with a masters in Tourism, were frustrated that the research on sustainability never trickled down to consumers.

“A big part of Green Motion’s work is providing information about options available for travel choices,” Batchelar told Travel Market Report.

The two met five years ago when their sons entered kindergarten together. Initially, Green Motion Travel devoted resources to educating potential clients about key sustainability concepts. Explaining how those concepts could be applied to the travel experience, Green Motion circulated handouts with titles like “What to Ask Before You Book,” and “Sustainable Tourism While You Travel.”

They also sent questionnaires to travel suppliers and ranked them according to each supplier’s commitment to sustainable tourism. The results yielded a relationship with hotels, tour operators and other service providers eager to offer green travel options.

“It took a long time to find out which companies are committed to sustainability. So many are trying to be environmentally friendly and want to promote their effort, which is great,” said Dixon.Now with more than double the manpower, Green Motion Travel’s mission continues to educate and promote their website. There, visitors can easily make transportation choices that suit their evolving needs and criteria.

So what is trending in the sustainable tourism world?

“We are seeing a growing number of our clients choose rail over flying when the option is presented by us. In Canada, our rail network is decent in the Ottawa-Toronto-Montreal corridor. It is these types of trips that are hardest on the environment when flying, so every convert to rail – which also avoids airline security hassles – is a benefit,” said Dixon.

“Tourism can never be neutral,” says the Green Motion Travel website. “It will always have an impact but the key is to try and make the impact as positive as possible.”

[Flickr photo by The Brit_2]