Regenerative Tourism is Changing the Way We Think About Travel

The future of global tourism is here

Claire Pfitzinger, Marketing and Sustainability Director

1 min read

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the global tourism industry was at a tipping point. Popular destinations like Hawaii were becoming overwhelmed by tourists. In many popular hotspots, both the environment and local populations were becoming strained by the impacts of over tourism. Both tourists and the hotel conglomerates that housed them often lacked concern for the environment and culture of destinations that are home to established communities.

A coalition of travel organizations, with the support of governments of countries across the globe, is trying to change this.

The Future of Tourism was founded in June 2020 by six non-governmental organizations within the global tourism industry to collaborate on a list of principles for the travel industry to adopt that go beyond the limits of current sustainable travel practices. In reality, current sustainable travel efforts are only defined by the ability to maintain tourism without harming natural and cultural environments. The Future of Tourism coalition saw a global need to go beyond that. How could we attempt to change a traveler's mindset in how and why they travel? They adopted regenerative tourism.

While there is no one definition for regenerative travel, it is defined by creating a positive impact on the local community and land wherever a hospitality service is located. Regenerative travel goes beyond solely maintaining the environment, but restoring the environment to its former, unoccupied state. Regenerative travel aims to regenerate, or restore, cultural heritage, communities, and ecosystems, and support their recovery from over tourism.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for tourism boards and organizations within the global tourism industry to establish regenerative practices. The lack of tourists in the beginning of the pandemic due to travel restrictions helped leaders in tourism re-imagine what a symbiotic relationship between tourists, locals, and a travel destination could be.

While the concept of regenerative tourism is not new (Bhutan’s been doing it for years), the recent push for regenerative tourism is becoming more popular. New practices, like reservations needing to be made for popular sites for less traffic and to protect natural resources, encourage tourist education about the land, and prioritizes the environment and local communities over all else.

Into The Box has developed our business model around the practice of regenerative tourism to support the Future of Tourism and others’ efforts to change the way we think and participate in travel. Learn more about ITB's sustainability values here.