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Going Green

Stay in beautiful accommodation that commits to the idea of ethics, renewables and sustainability.

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The eco charge

Hover on the images on the right for eco-tourism
insights and tips from American Express.

Stay the night: Thala Beach Nature Reserveinfo-marker

Stay the night: Thala Beach Nature Reserve

Surrounded by miles of World Heritage listed reef and rainforest, Thala Beach Nature Reserve is a family-owned private reserve, which has achieved the highest level of eco-certification through sustainable practices and environmental sensitivity.

Tips to Take you Further #1

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Tips to Take you Further #1

It’s easy to be taken in by buzzwords such as “eco” and “green” when you’re booking a holiday – but be warned, not everyone who claims to be responsible and sustainable really is. To determine a hotel or tour operator’s true credentials, you’ll need to read the fine print. What does it actually do? Also look out for “Green Globe” certification, which rewards sustainable tourism operators.

Explore the world’s oldest tropical rainforestmap-marker

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Explore the world’s oldest tropical rainforest

The World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest is home to plants and animals found nowhere else on earth.

An alpine experience like no otherinfo-marker

An alpine experience like no other

These beautiful eco pods are nestled within the Swiss Alps and have a minimal impact on the environment. Each pod is heated with its own pellet stove, waste is recycled and the use of energy and water is controlled.

Change the world
Change the world image

Travel has changed: it is no longer just “flop and drop”, no longer a mere tourist experience. A new generation of travellers is changing the idea of what a holiday can be, giving back to the communities they visit, ensuring sustainability in the projects they support. And the operators are listening.

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Tips to take you further #2

To ensure you’re travelling as responsibly as possible, there are plenty of small things you can do: take a reusable water bottle to use instead of plastic bottles; travel on buses; pay for carbon offsets on flights; and stay in eco-friendly accommodation.

One of the most notable changes in travel recently is the rise of ecologically sustainable accommodation options. These are not just carbon-neutral hotels, but places that truly commit to the idea of ethics, renewables and sustainability.

One of the leaders in this field in Australia is the Daintree Eco Lodge, set in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest. Given the sensitive nature of the lodge’s location, it’s set up to have the smallest impact possible on the forest. There’s a self-sufficient water supply for the resort, plus at least one tree is planted for every guest who comes to stay. The Daintree Lodge also works closely with the local Aboriginal community, consulting on conservation strategies and offering hotel guests a range of Indigenous experiences, including art workshops and cultural walks.

Nearby to the Daintree, Thala Beach Nature Reserve in Port Douglas offers a similar eco-friendly experience. The company is actively involved in the rehabilitation of its 145-acre property, as well as the surrounding area, and offers its guests plenty of experiences with the local Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal community.

Environmentally friendly accommodation doesn’t, however, have to be based in the wilderness. In the UK, the Green House, a four-star boutique hotel in Bournemouth on the country’s south coast, is leading the way in terms of environmental sustainability. The hotel uses solar-powered water heating, energy-efficient lighting, has placed locally produced woolen carpets in all of its rooms, uses wooden furniture made solely from fallen trees, and the company car, a pretty stylish Kombi, runs on recycled cooking oil from the hotel kitchen. Pretty impressive stuff. And it’s also a lovely place to stay.

The Hi Hotel in Nice, France, meanwhile, also has an impressive commitment to sustainability. This boutique hotel has a “Green Globe” certification, thanks to its use of recycled paper, organic paint, eco-friendly cleaning products and organic food. The hotel also has bicycles available for its guests to use, meaning fewer taxi rides, and less pollution. Though, given its location right in the middle of the French Riviera, there’s no reason to go too far anyway.

Lend a hand

How to make a real difference and help change lives when you travel.

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Giving back to the community

Hover on the images on the right for wilderness insights and tips from American Express.

Support charitable initiativesinfo-marker

Support charitable initiatives

The Intrepid Foundation supports a range of charitable initiatives and hands-on building works around world, including providing shelter for poor children in Peru.

Tips to Take you Further #3

Earn points that take you further with American Express Membership Rewards.

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Tips to Take you Further #3

You might be tempted, after seeing kids struggling in Nepal, or going without food in Kenya, or having to work at a young age in Central America, to try to start up your own charity, or to make a difference by yourself. However, research has shown that your money and efforts would be far better spent with an already-established charity that has the infrastructure and expertise in place to provide help and care.

Rebuilding Nepalmap-marker

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Rebuilding Nepal

The Intrepid Foundation partnered with Plan International to fund the building of more than 160 schools across the country after the devastating Nepal earthquake in 2015.

Help conserve culturesinfo-marker

Help conserve cultures

The Planeterra Foundation works to promote sustainable solutions and economic growth for communities touched by tourism, for example, building the capacity of remote hill-tribe communities in northern Thailand.

Putting locals first
Putting locals first image

The idea of sustainability, of a hotel or a tour operator or anyone working in the travel sphere having a positive effect on the world around them, isn’t limited to the traditional notions of being eco-friendly. There’s more to being a good global citizen than simply recycling waste and using solar power. There are companies now who are not just looking after the local environment, but the people who live in these popular tourist destinations, the ones whose homes and culture travellers pay all that money to come over and see.

One of the leaders in this responsible field is Intrepid Travel, an ethically run company that has been making efforts to help rebuild in earthquake-hit Nepal via its Intrepid Foundation. The foundation recently partnered up with Plan International to fund the building of more 160 schools across the country, helping kids restart their education. The foundation – funded through donations, while all administration costs are taken care of by Intrepid Travel – also supports a large number of other charitable initiatives and hands-on building works around the world, including providing shelter for poor children in Peru, providing hospitality training for youth in Vietnam, and supporting well-known entities such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace, the Fred Hollows Foundation, and Médecins Sans Frontières in their work providing infrastructure and support.

Another large global tour company, G Adventures, conducts similar charitable work through the not-for-profit Planeterra Foundation. G Adventures supports the operating costs, as well as a portion of the project development costs, meaning donations from its clients go straight into the projects they want to help. Some of those projects currently underway include helping to build guesthouses – meaning communities will have a long-term way of making money – for the hill tribes in Thailand, and for the Mayan communities in Guatemala, as well as providing solar power for remote villages in Bangladesh – again making a difference in the long-term – and engaging with minority groups in places such as Kenya and Costa Rica to help them set up infrastructure to survive well into the future through visitation by tourist groups.

The Starwood Hotels group, which owns brands such as Sheraton, Westin and the W, also has a charitable foundation, which provides disaster relief for communities in which its hotels are based, as well as encouraging its employees to participate in volunteer work in those same areas.

Make a change

Long-term goals for long-term improvement. How travel companies are making a long-term difference.

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Choose wisely

Hover on the images on the right for eco-tourism
insights and tips from American Express.

See life in South Africa’s townshipsinfo-marker

See life in South Africa’s townships

In Cape Town the Cape Care Route enables travellers to support emerging entrepreneurs in the townships, through buying locally made goods, eating local cuisine and visiting shebeens, or shanty bars.

Tips to Take you Further #4

Earn points that take you further with American Express Membership Rewards.

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Tips to Take you Further #4

One of the best ways to travel ‘green’ is to avoid the use of motorised transport while you’re away, if you can. And you can make that happen by jumping on a bike. Plenty of tour companies now offer cycling adventures in some of the world’s most popular destinations, including outfits such as Intrepid Travel and G Adventures that will hook you up with a set of wheels and a guided itinerary. All you need to provide is the pedal power.

The enchanting Sabi Sand Reservemap-marker

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The enchanting Sabi Sand Reserve

Stay at Sabi Sabi to get up-close to spectacular wildlife including the ‘big five’ – lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant. Stay here and you’ll also have the opportunity to meet the local Shangaan people in the surrounding villages.

Do some good in Kenyainfo-marker

Do some good in Kenya

Choose tailor-made itineraries through Latin America to experience the destination as a local and effect long-term change. See astonishing landscapes, experience indigenous rituals and at delicious local foods.

Preserve their ways
Preserve their ways image

The travel experience can be quite a voyeuristic one, when you think about it. You arrive in these amazing, exotic locations, you look around, take photos, and then jump back on the plane and go home. Nothing is really altered for the people you’ve met in those destinations. No genuine, long-term change is effected by your presence.

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Tips to take you further #5

If you have to rent a car while you’re travelling, don’t go with a big gas-guzzler, but rather try to book a hybrid car such as a Toyota Prius, a Volkswagen e-Golf, or a Ford C-Max. Most hire car companies, such as Avis and Hertz, now offer hybrids as part of their standard fleets. Just don’t be tempted into going for an upgrade at the check-in desk.

Except, in some instances, it is. Part of the whole sustainability thing is, of course, making local communities sustainable, making lifestyles and history and culture sustainable. And there are plenty of companies that are playing a part in doing that, companies that you can travel with and support. 

Once again, Intrepid Travel is a leader here, through its Intrepid Foundation. The not-for-profit organisation provides skills training for women in Nepal, helping them secure long-term employment. It helps Syrian refugees resettle in Turkey. It helps adults with learning disabilities in China, and in Morocco. And it provides training for unemployed youth in Tanzania. All of this is excellent, important work that travellers can support by booking travel with Intrepid.

Africa is actually well represented in terms of companies and even government agencies that have similar community engagement initiatives. Sabi Sabi, a luxury safari lodge in South Africa, encourages its guests to interact with the local Shangaan people in the villages that surround the game park. These interactions involve touring the villages, visiting schools, calling in to see practitioners of traditional medicine, and meeting the local chief. All of the proceeds from these activities go straight to the villages that are visited, allowing them to preserve their way of life. 

The City of Cape Town government, meanwhile, has introduced the “Cape Care Route”, a way of connecting visitors with local artisans and entrepreneurs. The idea is that tourists go into some of the townships that surround Cape Town, places like Langa, Gugulethu and Cape Flats, meet the people who live there, sample local cuisine, and buy products that are manufactured in the local area. It’s a two-way gain – the tourists get a truly local experience in a place they wouldn’t normally visit, and the residents get a sustainable way to survive.

Over in Latin America, Sumak Travel provides ethical, sustainable travel experiences. The UK-based company puts travellers together with community-based tourism providers – often in indigenous communities, or small villages, or even shanty towns – to create a unique travel experience that also effects long-term change in parts of the world that have traditionally struggled.

Get your hands dirty

Volunteer opportunities to help you change the world.

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Do More

Hover on the images on the right for eco-tourism
insights and tips from American Express.

Join a marine conservation expeditioninfo-marker

Join a marine conservation expedition

GVI offers more than 150 hands-on volunteer projects around the world. Contribute to conservation efforts in Fiji, Thailand or Seychelles, construction projects in India or Nepal or women’s empowerment projects in Laos.

Tips to Take you Further #6

Earn points that take you further with American Express Membership Rewards.

Brought to you by American Express

Tips to Take you Further #6

Eating locally produced food when you’re travelling isn’t just great for your taste buds – fresher is always better – but it’s also beneficial to the environment. After all, the less energy that’s used to cart food around the world, the better. And in buying local you’re supporting farmers, shopkeepers and restaurateurs in the local area. Truly, everybody wins.

Care for elephants in Chiang Maimap-marker

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Care for elephants in Chiang Mai

With GVI, volunteer in Thailand’s Chiang Mai Province and help rehabilitate elephants relieved from working in the tourist industry.

Do some good in Kenyainfo-marker

Do some good in Kenya

One Horizon offers travellers a range of opportunities to connect with Kenyan communities, from herding cattle with Masai tribesmen to preparing meals for once starving children or helping to monitor the health of abandoned babies.

Be part of the solution
Be part of the solution image

Ethical, eco-friendly tourism doesn’t have to be something you view from afar, something you spend money on and never see working. One of the fastest growing sectors of the ethical travel industry is “voluntourism”, the chance to do some work yourself, to get in there and lend a hand in local communities as you see the world. These opportunities can range from building houses, to teaching children, to providing medical care, to helping to look after animals. All have something in common: voluntary work that gives back to a place you’ve come to love.

In Kenya, the charity One Horizon – which is linked to Australian-based travel agent Classic Safari Company – is doing some amazing work in the slums outside of Nairobi. Instead of simply going on safari and then leaving the country, travellers have the chance to join the One Horizon team in their efforts to provide locals in Kenya with a long-term solution to poverty. That can include serving lunches at schools, or helping out cooking in the soup kitchens, or even going to markets to help buy live pigs, which are then donated and raised on urban farms by local women. These experiences can last for just one day, or several weeks if you really enjoy it.

Down in South Africa, Calabash Tours offers placements for volunteers in local schools. These placements have to last for a minimum of four weeks, so they’re a fair time commitment, but they’re also a great way for travellers to truly connect with the communities they go to visit, and for those communities to benefit from the time and help that they receive.

For those who would like to spend time caring for animals, Australian-based company GVI offers a huge range of volunteer opportunities over a variety of timeframes around the world. These opportunities could take the form of helping out with marine conservation in the Seychelles, helping to care for elephants in Thailand, doing wildlife research in South Africa, or even helping out with turtle research in Fiji. The organisation also has placements for volunteers looking to help out in construction, healthcare, sports, or even women’s empowerment. It’s a much different way to have a holiday than the usual – but these are experiences you will never forget.

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Tips to take you further

Earn points that take you further with American Express Membership Rewards.

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Tips to Take you Further # 1

It’s easy to be taken in by buzzwords such as “eco” and “green” when you’re booking a holiday – but be warned, not everyone who claims to be responsible and sustainable really is. To determine a hotel or tour operator’s true credentials, you’ll need to read the fine print. What does it actually do? Also look out for “Green Globe” certification, which rewards sustainable tourism operators.

spacer image

Tips to Take you Further # 2

To ensure you’re travelling as responsibly as possible, there are plenty of small things you can do: take a reusable water bottle to use instead of plastic bottles; travel on buses; pay for carbon offsets on flights; and stay in eco-friendly accommodation.

spacer image

Tips to Take you Further # 3

You might be tempted, after seeing kids struggling in Nepal, or going without food in Kenya, or having to work at a young age in Central America, to try to start up your own charity, or to make a difference by yourself. However, research has shown that your money and efforts would be far better spent with an already-established charity that has the infrastructure and expertise in place to provide help and care.

spacer image

Tips to Take you Further # 4

One of the best ways to travel ‘green’ is to avoid the use of motorised transport while you’re away, if you can. And you can make that happen by jumping on a bike. Plenty of tour companies now offer cycling adventures in some of the world’s most popular destinations, including outfits such as Intrepid Travel and G Adventures that will hook you up with a set of wheels and a guided itinerary. All you need to provide is the pedal power.

spacer image

Tips to Take you Further # 5

If you have to rent a car while you’re travelling, don’t go with a big gas-guzzler, but rather try to book a hybrid car such as a Toyota Prius, a Volkswagen e-Golf, or a Ford C-Max. Most hire car companies, such as Avis and Hertz, now offer hybrids as part of their standard fleets. Just don’t be tempted into going for an upgrade at the check-in desk.

spacer image

Tips to Take you Further # 6

Eating locally produced food when you’re travelling isn’t just great for your taste buds – fresher is always better – but it’s also beneficial to the environment. After all, the less energy that’s used to cart food around the world, the better. And in buying local you’re supporting farmers, shopkeepers and restaurateurs in the local area. Truly, everybody wins.

spacer image

Tips to Take you Further # 7

No matter you’re travel style, American Express has a rewards card packed with benefits designed for you. They even have cards with no annual fee where you can earn points on all your purchases and turn them into so many different rewards – from flights to hotel rooms and much more. With a rewards card from American Express you can get where you want to go sooner.

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