Whether you travel often or only occasionally or if you work in travel, do you believe you have a responsibility to the world to leave it better than how it was before you arrived? Anyone who works in tourism, be it a cruise line, resort, CEO, hotel front desk clerk, travel agent, travel writer, or travel blogger is the face of travel to the general public. As such, I believe we have a certain amount of responsibility to the world to not only encourage travel, but to protect this very same world in which we live. Travel is a great experience for all of those who want to experience different cultures and explore a completely different way of life, these destinations are fun and can be the adventure of a life time, if you happen to have an individual that you look after who has an impairment then you can even take them travelling with you and enjoy the journey together. You can purchase some wheelchairs and scooters from Scooters ‘N Chairs, these devices are great for all of those who need support from an electrical device, making travel easy and destinations accessible to all of those in the world.
As someone who takes the idea of being “green” seriously, I try to practice what I preach. At home we follow the three R’s of reduce, reuse, and recycle and are avid users (and givers) on Freecycle. We don’t buy bottled water if we can avoid it and I am usually found in public with my black water bottle in hand. We compost, have solar panels on our home, and watch both our electricity and water usage. Every piece of paper is recycled in our home, every piece of plastic, every bottle, every can, etc. This entry isn’t about being “green”, but should shed a light on me as a person while at home.
While traveling, it always pains me to throw away paper, plastic, etc. and when I don’t see a recycle bin, I shudder. Granted, not every business is there yet and certainly not every country is there either, but I do try to do my share, including taking paper with me and finding another place to deposit it instead of throwing it in the trash. I have learned to place a banana peel in a bin with only minimal guilt, but still I wish I had somewhere else to put it, don’t you?
Having said that, is there more that we can do? Absolutely! I had the pleasure of meeting representatives of Tourism Cares last year at a travel conference. Of course, I was thrilled that they were also local to me as they are based out of Canton, MA. In a nutshell, Tourism Cares‘ mission is to preserve the travel experience for future generations. Tourism Cares was formed in 2005 by the merger of the National Tourism Foundation and the Travelers Conservation Foundation. Volunteers from the travel and tourism industry clean up and restore culturally significant, tourism-related sited needing care and rejuvenation. More than 2,000 volunteers have donated more than 20,000 hours at sites across North America including Ellis Island, Gettysburg, PA, Mystic Seaport, CT, and Pensacola, FL, among many others. Tourism Cares, a nonprofit organization, has awarded $101,000 in scholarships to 75 travel students in 2011 and awarded grants for conservation, preservation, and restoration of global natural, cultural and historic sites.
Tourism Cares explains what they do on their web site:
Tourism Cares preserves the travel experience for the benefit of tomorrow’s travelers.
We do it in three ways:
- We help to save sites that are important to travelers by giving financial assistance to tourism-related natural, cultural and historic sites around the world.
- We help to educate those who will be the future workforce of the largest industry in the world – travel. We do this by giving scholarships to those who are studying travel and tourism, we mentor those who wish to learn to be the best, we foster internships so that those interested in the travel and tourism industry can learn hands-on. We also educate the traveling public on how to become more responsible travelers.
- We bring the tourism community together to volunteer and help clean up and restore important historic sites that are in need of care and rejuvenation.
I’ve wanted to get involved for some time, but scheduling conflicts, time, and life in general have gotten in my way in the past. But not this time. When I heard about Tourism Cares for Pensacola, I had to get involved. For a donation, I became a proud sponsor of the project along side big names like Marriott, Starwood, Margaritaville, Collette Vacations, Hertz, Lowe’s, Viking River Cruises, and so many, many others.
On March 29 and 30, 2012, Tourism Cares for Pensacola made a huge impact in the area. Some of their key accomplishments included:
At the Pensacola Lighthouse:
- 4000ft of fence was painted
- 5000 pickets were repaired and painted
- 23 rooms covering almost 6000sq ft were painted
- Brush was cleared from an area covering 2400sq ft
- This brush was mulched and what could not be mulched filled a 25yd debris dumpster
- 660 jasmine were planted
- 48 azalea bushes were planted
- 2400 sq ft of flower beds were built
- 2 out buildings were painted
At Bayview Park, Bayou Texar:
- Planted 2,500 native salt marsh grasses along 600 feet of shoreline which will provide over 1/10th of an acre of lush intertidal estuarine habitat for a nearly uncountable number of marine organisms, while stabilizing the park shoreline and absorbing excess nutrients from rain runoff.
- Hand pulled 500-1000 lbs of root material from the invasive reed grass, Phragmites australis.
- Prepared an additional 500 square feet of intertidal area to be planted by removing Phragmites along the shoreline.
- Contributed nearly 200 hours of volunteer time
What can you do? Get involved by following Tourism Cares on FaceBook and Twitter to learn about their next project. There are so many different ways to get involved. You can volunteer, make a donation, become a sponsor or a corporate partner. In May Tourism Cares‘ project is Tourism Cares for Peru, their first Global Outreach initiative. I strongly encourage you to get involved and learn more about Tourism Cares. Give back travel people and do what you can to help improve those travel areas in the world that can benefit from the boost. You won’t regret it and the pride you’ll feel from your efforts will be worth every second and dollar you contributed.
Photos courtesy of Tourism Cares