Published on Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Upmarket travel goes sustainable

Sustainable Tourism Among the Top Trends to Emerge During Virtuoso® Travel Week

Much like 'Fashion Week' establishes style trends for the season to come, leading luxury travel network Virtuoso® revealed during its recent 'Virtuoso Travel Week' conference the latest developments that will set the standard in upscale, experiential travel.

For the first time in the event's 24-year history, Virtuoso® preferred travel providers presented news and updates to the media in attendance. Virtuoso identified "sustainable tourism" as a key trend, with top destinations and travel providers expressing a strong commitment to products and practices that support the movement.

"With more than 340 member agencies in 20 countries and relationships with 1,300 of the world's best travel providers and premier destinations, Virtuoso is perfectly positioned to determine what will attract and interest travelers," said Matthew D. Upchurch, CTC, Chairman and CEO of Virtuoso. "Just as 'Fashion Week' is followed by the fashion industry and consumers alike, Virtuoso Travel Week is poised to become the same driving force for the travel industry. This week several of our travel providers shared exciting announcements, combined with some interesting statistics and insight from Virtuoso as well."

Examples Virtuoso gave are

Bhutan: A New Virtuoso Destination That Cleverly Uses Tourism to Directly Support Its Citizens' 'Gross National Happiness'. Closed to outsiders for centuries, the Kingdom of Bhutan not only recently emerged as a "must" on savvy travelers' bucket lists, it has also aligned itself with Virtuoso as a preferred destination in the network.

Known for its pristine Himalayan landscapes and enduring cultural traditions, Bhutan focuses on a low-impact/high-yield sustainable tourism model. Tourism revenue directly supports the people of Bhutan, with a $65 per day royalty going towards alleviating poverty and fully subsidizing education and healthcare for the country's residents. The first country in the world to measure its success by the 'Gross National Happiness' of its citizens, Bhutan attracts travelers with a social conscience and those seeking a spiritual journey like none other.

Mexico: Still a Favorite Destination Amongst Luxury Travelers, Mexico has further grown in popularity with upscale travelers, who have long enjoyed visiting the country for its diverse beauty, proud heritage, stunning cuisine and rich experiences.

Mexico currently boasts 142 AAA Four- and Five-Diamond properties, along with 115 hotels and establishments certified by Earthcheck and Rainforest, with more luxury products scheduled to come online in the future.  Virtuoso's production significantly increased from 2008 through 2011, noting passenger counts up a whopping 133 percent.  With its commitment to warmly welcome visitors, Mexico promises to be a continued favorite destination for families, couples and singles alike.

Ecuador: Introduces "Conscious Tourism" and is Set to Become the Next "It" Destination in South America.

Located on the equator on the northwestern tip of South America, Ecuador is gearing up to be the next "go to" destination in South America. Offering something for everyone, Ecuador boasts a beach culture along the Pacific Ocean, the mountainous Andes, exotic Amazon and, of course, the gateway to the Galapagos Islands (a short 1 hour, 35 minute-flight). Announcing its new tourism concept called "Conscious Tourism,"

Ecuador is the first nation in the world to include the Rights of Nature in its Constitution, and the country will forgo some 846 million barrels of heavy crude reserves to protect the biological diversity and indigenous people of the Yasuni National Park, in turn becoming the first developing country to propose an effective, quantifiable and verifiable carbon abatement model.  Now it will be easier to visit Ecuador, as the country is the first in South America to use the U.S. Dollar as its national currency, it shares a time zone with the U.S. minimizing jetlag, and soon will open a state-of-the-art international airport to welcome visitors from around the world.  

Valere Tjolle

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  • Setting the Sustainability Standard

    It is hard to see the "latest developments that will set the standard" in terms of commitment here, as these seem to be simply examples of what individual members are doing. Is there a Virtuoso wide commitment to sustainability for its preferred travel providers (e.g. with criteria). That would be truly newsworth as setting the standard.

    By Peter Krahenbuhl, Thursday, August 30, 2012

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