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Ecotourism & Sustainable Travel

Q&A with Rachel Dodds

Dr. Rachel Dodds 

Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University)
Founder of Sustaining Tourism

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What do you think is the most important piece of advice you would give to youth/young travellers who want to remain eco-conscious while travelling? 

The key thing to remember is that you are visiting someone else’s place so treat it with respect. It is not just about eco, but also social and cultural considerations and not just about remaining but about starting. Every traveler needs to be conscious not just some. 

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What is the most concerning travel trend currently threatening eco-tourism and sustainable travel? 

There are many trends, but our climate crisis is the one that will affect us the most and it’s not a trend but a reality.  

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What would you recommend for Canadians to do when looking to find eco-friendly accommodations and destinations? What are the best resources? 

The important thing is to do a little homework. We all want our travels to be less stressful so doing a little planning and research up front can improve your trip as well as reduce your stress. 

The book: Are we there yet? Travelling more responsibly with children – has tips and sources for all travellers, not just parents, and you can feel good because 100% of profits go to World Animal Protection. It has lots of good resources for all types of travel while helping animals at the same time.

I have a website with many tips and resources for travelling as well as examples of great companies doing great things: 

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You have tons of travel experience (over 80 countries and 6 continents) which destinations would you say are most committed to sustainable tourism or are the best examples of Ecotourism destinations? 

This is a hard question to answer as many places have changed over the years and suggesting one destination depends on what the traveler is looking for. 

Some destinations which are making more of an effort to be more sustainable, however, are the Nordic countries such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark etc. also New Zealand and our own country Canada. A key thing to remember is that your biggest impact is the flight so if there is somewhere closer or with a direct flight – your impact will be less. 

Try to avoid travelling in high season if you can. Making one positive change every trip will have an impact. 

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How did you begin your work for Sustaining Tourism? What was the goal when creating Sustaining Tourism? 

How I began my work in sustainability was due to witnessing the negative impacts of travel and my passion to change them to be better. Perhaps I learned from my father who made me pick up the garbage from the campsites we visited as a child, or perhaps it was witnessing raw sewage running down a beach in Mexico when I was privileged to be able to travel there in my teens –  there are so many things that tourists, businesses, organizations and governments can do better… I wanted to work on the solutions. I try to do this through a multifaceted approach to many audiences. I am a professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, I have my company, and I also work with non profits.  

I believe you can learn so much from travelling, but the development and marketing must reach higher standards. I started my company to help destinations and businesses to become more sustainable as well as provide resources for the general public. 

It’s a bit of a funny story because the website started over 20 years ago when I realized I needed somewhere to put all the information I had about wonderful companies doing great things, as well as tips and information for how to become more responsible and sustainable. 

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