While eco-labels can be a great benchmarking tool, they’re not always a fair or accurate indicator of a business's operations or offerings, which has led many to question their reliability. There are over 300 labels within the hospitality & tourism industry, which can make it hard for consumers and businesses alike to discern which certifications are trustworthy.
Obtaining an eco-label is also time-consuming and costly, which can make it challenging for local and small businesses to become certified and maintain certification. Further, eco-labels rarely take into account local thresholds and market conditions, which makes them an unreliable and inconsistent marker for sustainable practices.
Even worse? Eco-labels are unfortunately sometimes seen as greenwashing or PR stunts and can create a barrier for small and local businesses to compete with larger businesses in the tourism industry.
Rather than strictly relying on eco-labels to tell the story, ecomadic prefers to connect directly with businesses to learn about their current sustainable offerings and where they are looking to grow. On our site, we strive to maintain transparency regarding these findings so travelers can make more informed decisions.
With this more personalized approach, ecomadic is able to provide travelers with local and sustainable businesses, who are making real strides towards a more sustainable future.
Greenwashing is a term used to describe marketing tactics used by businesses to deceive consumers into believing that their products and/or practices are sustainable when they are not. These false claims of sustainability help businesses gain customers, especially those who are sustainably-conscious.
Greenwashing is detrimental to sustainability as it undermines progress towards global sustainability targets while taking profits away from businesses who make real and dedicated efforts towards greater sustainability. It can also lead conscious consumers, who wish to support sustainable businesses, to unknowingly become part of the problem.
ecomadic strives to mitigate the effects of greenwashing by only highlighting businesses that have sustainable missions and/or practices in place and sustainability goals for the future. We are committed to vetting businesses prior to working with them and aim to provide continued transparency regarding businesses’ sustainable practices, missions, and goals.
Tourism leakage occurs when tourism dollars end up in the hands of foreign or multinational corporations or countries, rather than the countries that they are spent in. While tourism can provide destinations with significant economic benefits, tourism leakage prevents a community’s ability to fully reap those benefits, if at all.
Travelers contribute to tourism leakage in small ways, like purchasing an imported souvenir, or in big ways, like staying at a foreign-owned hotel. In either case, this leakage takes important income away from local business owners who call a destination home.
ecomadic limits and/or eliminates tourism leakage by working directly with locally-owned accommodations, experiences, shops, and eateries. By making travel to locally-owned businesses more accessible, ecomadic helps tourism profits end up in the hands of locals where they can then be circulated into the local economy and be put towards supporting the livelihoods of local people and locally-funded projects.
Sustainable tourism refers to a segment of the travel industry that considers the present and long-term environmental, social, and economic impacts of tourist activities. In doing so, sustainable tourism protects cultural heritage, conserves natural resources, and creates economic benefits for local communities. Unlike traditional tourism, sustainable tourism prioritizes the needs of host communities and ensures the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
With all of the different travel terms out there, it can be hard to tell them apart. There are many different types of travel that fall under the umbrella of sustainable tourism and while each form has the common goal of creating a better future for destinations, they also have some key differences. Here are a few sustainable travel terms and their definitions:
Responsible tourism is a form of sustainable tourism where travelers and travel companies consider ethical implications and show care for the environmental, social, and economic health of the place they are traveling. This form of tourism can be tricky, however, as different people and businesses can have differing opinions on what’s considered “ethical”. So, always be sure to dig a little deeper and read up on or ask questions about a business’s ethical practices before supporting them.
Conscious travel refers to a form of sustainable tourism where travelers are mindful of locals, other travelers, and the environment. Through self-awareness, conscious travel allows travelers to connect with people and places in a more meaningful way.
Eco-tourism is a form of sustainable tourism that consists of travel to natural areas with the intention of admiring and enjoying wild plants and animals. Eco-tourism also contributes to conservation efforts and sustains the well-being of local communities.
Each of the different forms of sustainable tourism provide different opportunities for travelers to make their travel more sustainable. We believe that each type has its strengths and its unique way of contributing to the goal of sustainable tourism, which is to contribute to a destination’s social, environmental, and economic well-being for years to come.
According to our partner, Sustainable Travel International, “Tourism is responsible for roughly 8% of the world’s carbon emissions, making it a significant contributor to climate change. Every time you fly on a plane, stay in a hotel, ride in a taxi, or create waste, carbon emissions are being generated. While there are many ways that you can and should minimize your carbon footprint while traveling, no matter how sustainable your travel habits are, certain carbon emissions are unavoidable. That’s where carbon offsetting comes in.”
“Carbon offsetting allows you to compensate for the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions you produce by reducing emissions somewhere else. To compensate for your travel footprint, carbon offset credits can be purchased that are equivalent to the amount of emissions you were responsible for. The credits are then invested in certified carbon reduction projects – including projects that support forests & biodiversity, clean & efficient energy, coastal blue carbon, and local communities. These projects reduce carbon dioxide by capturing/storing existing CO2 or preventing new emissions from happening, or by providing benefits that go beyond carbon reduction, such as protecting forests and the biodiversity within, or creating opportunities for communities to better their livelihoods and health.”
At ecomadic, we take care of the carbon offsetting for you through our partnership with Sustainable Travel International. As the average global nightly carbon footprint (CO2e) for a hotel is approximately 30.47 kg or 0.03 metric tons per night, this costs approx. $0.18 per night to offset, which we automatically include in every accommodation booking made through our platform in order to make conscious travel choices that much easier.
To learn more about carbon offsets and how they work, check out this explanatory blog by Sustainable Travel International.
ecomadic differs from other OTAs by specializing in ethical, sustainable travel supporting small and local businesses. Rather than the blanketed approach utilized by other OTAs, we bring a human aspect to booking travel with accommodations, experiences, shops, and eateries.
Not only do we highlight sustainable businesses, but we are also committed to ethical and sustainable operations in our own business. By making sustainable travel more accessible, we seek to empower local businesses and communities. Unlike other OTAs, we employ a personalized onboarding approach, which allows us to form genuine connections with sustainable business owners.
Beyond opening up the world to sustainable travel with our booking platform, ecomadic is also passionate about building a community of conscious travelers and sharing valuable resources and information through our social media channels, Green Guides, and ecomadic podcast – 'You're (Not) Welcome Here'.
The Booking.com Travel Sustainable Badge is an initiative that claims to make booking sustainable travel easier by highlighting businesses that claim to have sustainable practices. The initiative was created in partnership with Travalyst, a nonprofit led by The Duke of Sussex, and big businesses, such as Google, Skyscanner, Tripadvisor, and Visa.
For a business to receive a badge on Booking.com, they self report their sustainable practices through an electronic form. From there, the application goes through an automated approval process which decides whether the business has been awarded the badge. There is, however, very little information about how Booking.com verifies a business’s sustainability claims, if at all. This creates real concern regarding the true sustainability of businesses that tout the badge on the platform, especially since businesses might be eager to overstate their efforts to attract sustainably-minded travelers (i.e. greenwashing).
Not to mention, while the badge focuses on environmental and social practices, social indicators are limited and important components of sustainable tourism, such as preventing tourism leakage and protecting cultural heritage, are noticeably absent.
ecomadic is led by a team of dedicated individuals who are tirelessly passionate about sustainability and protecting the future of our planet. We believe in making sustainable travel more accessible by featuring shops, eateries, accommodations, and experiences that have legitimate sustainable practices in place.
When deciding which businesses to feature on our platform, we gather key information by communicating directly with businesses to assess their current sustainability efforts and assist them towards future sustainability goals. Rather than dedicating a portion of our site to sustainable businesses, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, and every business featured on our site is making a sustainable impact.
When determining if a business is sustainable, ecomadic considers the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, socio-cultural, and economic. For a business to be considered sustainable, it must be locally-owned or have practices and/or a mission in place that support the environmental, social, and/or economic well-being of their community (or the world at large) for years to come.
We understand that sustainability looks different in every part of the world, depending on local thresholds, sourcing options, technological innovations, and more. For this reason, we seek to support businesses wherever they are on their sustainable journey.
ecomadic is always looking to work with accommodations, experiences, shops, and eateries that are locally-owned and have sustainable missions and/or practices in place.
If you are interested in having your business (or a business you know about) featured on ecomadic, please fill out this form on our Contact Us page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a 30 minute consultation call with a member of our team.
We’d love to hear from you!