Transformative travel: Jeremy Jauncey on how to change the world with wanderlust
The founder of sustainable travel company Beautiful Destinations and Panerai Global Ambassador explains how tourism can transform communities for good
What is true luxury? For me, it’s being able to visit far-flung places and have an experience that money can’t buy. It's not having lots of things to show off, but rather the moments that really matter.
There’s a growing millennial market that cares deeply about the environment, and their interest will influence decades of future growth in the industry. I think it's really important to have that mindset, and to understand how traditional interpretations of luxury are shifting.
My first eye-opening experience within sustainable travel was when I first visited Rwanda. At the time, I had no idea about the commitments made by the nation’s government to completely embrace conservation and sustainability across all facets of life. I met former poachers who are now protecting wildlife, because Rwanda’s government created financial and cultural incentives to protect the wildlife they used to hunt. That really showed me first-hand the power of changing the dynamic around tourism to incentivise sustainable development. Five years ago, Rwanda banned plastic bags; this year they outlawed all single-use plastics.
This is what makes hospitality such an exciting industry to be in. There’s a balance between holidaymakers seeking out amazing, transformative experiences around the world; the entrepreneurs and hospitality leaders who are curating these experiences but who are also able to enrich and improve local communities; and the communities that can reap the rewards of providing unique experiences.
In fact, tourism is one of the few industries where your economic impact is felt instantly – from the very moment you arrive. When you pay for your taxi, when you tip your waiter in a restaurant, when you buy from a local shop, the community is immediately benefitting from your investment. There are many challenges, such as over tourism in places such as in Venice but, if we can get the balance right, we can create truly positive impact.
So, what do we as holidaymakers have to do to create impactful travel? The first and most important thing is to understand our impact. We’re all very aware of the climate crisis, but less familiar with online tools that help measure an individual’s carbon footprint – such as WWF UK – particularly in terms of transportation. Travel and tourism are responsible for roughly 5%-8% of greenhouse gases, with short-haul flights the worst offender. By working with climate consultants Gold Standard, Beautiful Destinations was able to see the carbon impact of the number of nights our employees spent in hotel rooms through the year versus sharing accommodation and Airbnbs.
When it comes to choosing our hotels, it’s important to look at how venues provide their services – for example, are they growing food locally or built using sustainable materials? – as well as how they are supporting and investing in their local communities. Hotels can provide everything from employment opportunities to training, education and better healthcare, and even partnerships with other local businesses to share those tourist dollars. A hotel can have a large carbon footprint, but it can have an equally large community footprint.
Finally, we can visit destinations that really need our help. By choosing locations that can really thrive with an injection of tourism dollars, you can have your transformative life experience while benefitting the lives of others – and that is a key component of truly sustainable travel.
I passionately believe that travel can be a force for good in the world. It’s a uniting force that can bring people together and so I’m excited to partner with Panerai and work to raise awareness of the amazing things that happen when you travel.