TREND: Regenerative Travel Will Move from Lofty Ideal to More Action 

2020 represented a near total brake on travel, giving both travel suppliers and consumers time to think about rebooting it for the better. Our 2021 trend, “The Year of the Travel Reset,” looks at the ways that the travel industry will rethink its manic, unsustainable past—to create slower, less destructive, and more mindful travel experiences.
The concept with the most potentially radical impact is regenerative travel. If sustainable travel works to minimize damage to the environment, regenerative travel is about actively leaving places we visit better than when we found them.
So, it’s very much about environmental initiatives moving beyond fuzzy commitments, such as new properties like Svart lodge (featured image above) on Norway’s Arctic Circle (coming 2022) that will be 100% energy positive (producing more solar power than it needs to operate)—or Tomorrow Air trying to scale up carbon removal technology to offset the million tons of CO2 that air travel produces each year—one mighty task.
But it’s about more than being super-green. It’s about choosing quality over quantity, such as Tourism New Zealand or Visit Flanders now measuring tourism success not by the money generated but by the health and wellbeing of the community and environment. It’s about fair income distribution and destinations/tours that benefit the locals by funding schools, healthcare or small business loans. It’s about not just not destroying—but restoring—nature, as we see in the rise of rewilding destinations/tours (more below).
While it obviously remains more Holy Grail than achievement, action is stepping up. Activist organizations such as Conscious Travel, and tour operators such as Regenerative Travel (a collection of 40 resorts in 24 countries), are promoting destinations that are “walking the talk” on regenerative social and environmental impact. And Regenerative Travel recently released a benchmarking system and guide for hotels to jump into—and measure—their progress toward regeneration (more below). Because while the concept feels intimidating, virtually every travel destination can make meaningful regenerative moves.
Regenerative travel has quickly become a buzzword, and skeptics will say that with the travel revenue lost this year—and the wild, pent-up demand in consumers—that we’ll just go back to making the same mess of destinations. But more people aren’t taking the destruction of nature, the exploitation of workers/communities, and impending global crises as lightly anymore: We know what disaster feels like; we know that a return to the travel status quo pre-pandemic is impossible; and more people will want to travel with purpose because they know they have to travel less. Tourism will be far more scrutinized and radically more so by wellness travelers. 
Regenerative travel is the needed new compass point; it will spark more travelers to ask deeper questions about where their money goes and how communities and the environment benefit or don’t—and the movement will move faster than traditionalists expect.
This is based on “The Year of the Travel Reset” trend in the 2021 Global Wellness Trends Report.

Summit Trend in the News

For Travel, a Sustainable Comeback?–New York Times

Written by the trend author, New York Times columnist, Elaine Glusac, who looks at how, with the prospect of travel reviving later this year, more travel operators, governments and nonprofits are rolling out new, deeper eco-oriented programs, trips, transportation initiatives and preserves, all born during the pandemic. 
'Regenerative Tourism' Takes Center Stage as Pandemic Forces Travel Industry to ReevaluateCTV News

A look at the principles behind regenerative travel and some new examples: from 22 travel groups signing on to the “Future of Tourism” coalition’s 13 guiding principles to travel company “Regenerative Travel” helping people book destinations, carriers and accommodations that respect local ecosystems and honor local culture.
Regenerative Travel Releases White Paper on Regenerative Principles for Hospitality

A new white paper from Regenerative Travel and communications agency, CatchOn, provides a framework to help move regenerative travel from buzzword to real paradigm shift.  Download the white paper here.
Eight Incredible Rewilding Projects to Discover in the UK– National Geographic

Rewilding is restoring land to its natural, uncultivated state and reintroducing wild animals that have been driven out or exterminated. It’s part of the regenerative travel movement, and more tourism experiences let people give back to the natural world.
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