Vacation in the wake of a hurricane and put your money where your heart is

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Some tragedies resulting from natural disasters – and worse – have rocked our world recently. Broken hearts, in fact. In times like these we want to reach out and help those in need but often we are too far. Donating is a must to get resources and care to affected areas, but there is more we can do. Especially after press leaves town and recovery gets overshadowed by the next big thing. So think about it. If you are planning a vacation in the next 12 months, consider going someplace that can benefit from that money.

Areal view on the southern coast of Puerto RIco.
Areal view of a section of coastline in southern Puerto Rico.

Put your money where your heart is on your next vacation

All inclusive resorts and theme parks are amazing vacation options for families – sometimes they might even seem like the only option for you. But if you are open to thinking outside that box you can make a difference with a lasting impact. 

We often talk about sustainable or ecotourism in SEVENSEAS, and for good reason. Spending your vacation dollars with a reputable company on a photo safari can help safeguard that patch of wilderness, diving over a reef is directly funds its protection, and visiting an animal sanctuary finances the rehabilitation or breeding efforts of countless animals. In this October issue we talk about sustainable tourism in Palau and in Northern Samar of the Philippines. In both cases the local community and biodiversity directly benefit from foreign visitors.

At a minimum, smart and sustainable tourism will in some capacity invest in a local community through lodging, eating local food, and hopefully by purchasing holiday gifts from people who will really benefit from the sale. In the case of the southeastern United States this season, and scores of locations across the globe, those same vacation dollars can help rebuild a ravaged locality. 

Where to vacation in the next twelve months

For friends in the United States I am personally keeping my eye on Puerto Rico. We are still in early stages with so little communication, no knows the full extent of the devastation. Once electricity returns along with safe roads and mobile phone service I am sure there will be volunteer groups heading down to help clean, replant, and rebuild. I cannot think of a better way to spend a week to escape cold winter up north.

Aside from Puerto Rico there are dozens of other areas in and around the United States that could use tourism dollars- and most are quite close to the beach. If volunteering on your vacation does not seem like an ideal holiday, it is still fine to plant yourself in the sun with a margarita, just choose your accommodations wisely so you help that local economy.

Not a bad idea to suggest your company hold its next annual meeting at a conference space in Houston. Or how about bringing some business to a dive shop in Florida? Travel just a little farther and you will see Cuba, areas of Mexico, and lots of the Caribbean that can benefit just as much.

Looking past the current destruction from natural disasters, there are hundreds of other destinations across the globe to pick from where a hotel, souvenirs, and a dinner or two will leave a much needed impact on a local business.

What is sustainable tourism

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), sustainable tourism should: 1. Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural resources and biodiversity. 2. Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance. 3. Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.

Development guidelines and management practices are applicable to all forms of tourism in all types of destinations, including mass tourism and the various niche tourism segments.

hiker sustainable tourism
From camping to luxury resorts, there is a version of sustainable tourism for just about any budget.

Benefits of sustainable tourism.

The most significant and immediate metric of success is the economic benefit of increased tourism, from foreign exchange earnings, employment opportunities, government revenue, and local businesses.

With well directed sustainable tourism there is the opportunity for female empowerment through diversified employment and a new revenue stream to carry younger family members through education. Done correctly, it should also aim to preserve cultural tradition and ways of life.

From an environmental perspective this sort of tourism puts value to ecosystems other than harvesting biodiversity and natural resources. It is also known to provide education to local communities by teaching the value of preserving their natural world. Sustainable tourism can also be a determining factor in the support of protected areas, parks, and national monuments.

Volunteers at a sunset beach camp fire.

So travel, and do it the right way

If you have any questions or need some inspiration for a destination, flip through past issues. Under the “Trips” tab of our website there are a few tour groups and companies that we like. If that still doesn’t work, shoot me an email at giacomo@sevenseasmedia.org and I can try to point you in the right direction. Well directed expenses on a vacation can go a long way in people’s lives.

Join the SEVENSEAS Media Community

SEVENSEAS Media is the leading free resource that promotes marine conservation through community engagement, online media, and eco-tourism, with readers in 174 countries. With the particularly brutal effects of climate change we are witnessing through floods and storms, we are asking you to please keep SCIENCE at the forefront of your conversations with family, friends, and colleagues. Encouraging them to subscribe to free products and programs like SEVENSEAS Media actually makes a difference by promoting scientific discussion and shining a spotlight on the good work of our partners in conservation.

Safe travels & happy swimming,

Giacomo Abrusci, Executive Director, Editor-in-Chief

Portrait of Giacomo Abrusci, Executive Director or SEVENSEAS Media
Giacomo Abrusci on top of the highest mountain in Bukhansan National Park in Seoul, SouthKorea. The peaks Baegundae, Insubong, and Gungmangbong, within the boundaries of national park and attract five million visitors a year. This was a super cool hike and conveniently metro accessible!

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