The term "regenerative travel" is gaining on sustainable travel as a new buzz phrase with forward-thinking travelers.
If the goal of sustainable travel is to do no harm and not leave a negative impact on the environment or communities, then regenerative travel goes a step further with the goal of ensuring travelers have a net positive effect on the places they visit.
In its best form, regenerative travel products operate with a holistic vision that considers factors ranging from environmental impact to social effects.
Many companies that have jumped on the regenerative travel marketing bandwagon are high-end luxury brands, but not all of them are. No matter the price category, through, travelers have a way of checking the claims.
One certification to look for is B-Corporation, which comes from B-Lab, a network that describes itself as “leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy."
All its members adhere to a clear set of established environmental and social impact assessment standards (read them here) and transparency that validate their products as truly regenerative. Businesses that meet the requirements may be called B Corps—the B stands for benefit for all.
Some luxury hotels or travel agents comply with different, but equally altruistic, metrics (read them here) set by Regenerative Travel, which is self-described as “an association of travel companies regenerating people and place.”
Many smaller companies don't have the staff or budget to apply for either certification, but can still aspire to follow regenerative practices. For them, you'll have to check their backgrounds yourself.
To evaluate whether a small businesses claiming regenerative travel practices truly lives up to the claim, regardless of their marketing, certifications, and price points, answer these questions.
Do tours and itineraries offer travelers ways to actively leave a positive impact?
Look for activity descriptions that spell out exactly what the traveler’s impact will be. If you’re visiting a village, will your presence enhance the preservation of their culture or language? If you’re hiking through a forest, will you plant trees, gather seeds of endangered plants, or count wildlife to support scientific research?
Does the business support a nonprofit?
Some large companies create an associated nonprofit to support worthy causes, especially in the areas where they work. Small companies might not have their own nonprofit, but they may still support one. If it’s not obviously stated on a travel vendor's website, ask if any of their profits are donated.
Does the company have goals and measurable targets?
An important part of regenerative travel is always moving towards a better future. This information might be in the company’s mission and vision statement.
Also, check if there is a 10-year or 20-year plan for the business' growth and development. Look for ways it will develop their regenerative practices and projects over time.
It may take time for a majority of companies to move past do-no-harm sustainable travel to leave-places-better regenerative travel. Until then, don’t hesitate to ask for ways you can leave a positive impact, no matter how the company markets itself.