We are often been asked how we became involved in the issues of sustainable tourism, responsible travel and ethical travel, so we decided to answer those questions here.
You may also want to read the following articles:
Sustainable Tourism and GSTC — the story of our involvement with the United Nations Foundation-backed Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)
The Good Global Traveler, 17 Actions You Can Take — our ethos and practical advice on how we travel responsibly and ethically
1) Tell us a bit about yourself and what you and/or your organization do. (Please highlight what makes you and/or your organization unique.)
We (Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott) are the husband-and-wife storytelling and photography team behind the one of the world’s leading travel blogs, Uncornered Market. For the last five years we have been traveling around the world, from Antarctica to Uzbekistan, going deep, often to share a destination’s more personal and human side. We’ve blogged and tweeted from some of the world’s most offbeat locations, challenging common perceptions everywhere we go.
We work together with tourism boards, tour companies, other travel-related product companies, and NGOs to tell their story through the lens of our personal experiences and perspective. We apply our approach of travel as an experience, life as an adventure along the way.
2) What first motivated you to get into sustainable tourism?
We live our lives and we travel according to a set of values, key among those, respect – respect for other cultures, respect for the environment and a respect for the complexities and nuances of the economic realities that face a growing planet.
We just never labeled our values or the behaviors attached to them as “sustainable.”
When we set off to travel around the world over five years ago, we did so hoping to put a human face on misunderstood or actively disregarded places around the world. Along the way, we were drawn to engaging with local people, participating in and highlighting community-based tourism projects and solutions, and finding ways to interact with and give back to communities, even in the smallest of ways, through our travels.
3) What personal experience best captures or illustrates the meaning of sustainable tourism to you?
One of our first experiences with community-based tourism came by way of a horse trekking experience in Kyrgyzstan with the organization CBT Kyrgyzstan. The entire experience of horseback riding across Kyrgyz meadows to the frozen Song Kul Lake as shepherds brought their flocks down from the mountains was stunningly beautiful.
What made this experience particularly exceptional was CBT Kyrgyzstan’s focus on involving community members in tourism activities and encouraging them to share their culture and hospitality. The approach spread economic benefits by rotating guides and community participants, and executing tours in a mindful and environmentally low-impact sort of way. Ultimately, we felt like we were engaged and part of the family at every yurt-stay, homestay and interaction along the way.
The upshot is that everyone benefited: local people in terms of economic benefit and cultural exchange to travelers who had the opportunity to experience authentic local hospitality and customs, right down to a goat slaughter upon our arrival and evening feast to break the Ramadan fast.