Thursday, January 21, 2010

Have Responsibility, Will Travel



In early December at the lobby of the posh Greenbelt 3 mall in Makati City, early holiday shoppers go through bags, gears and travel accessories of the little expo called Mad About Travel, which also offered special travel packages. A closer look revealed that this was no ordinary expo.
Organized by The Travel Club, a local shop offering quality travel essentials with several branches around the metro, the expo displayed products with a particular thrust. For example, there were Jansport and Timbuk2 backpacks, which do not use polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which can cause severe health problems, in the reflector tabs and tails. Other featured products included Sea to Summit, which creates innovative, lightweight products that support minimal human impact and is one of the founding sponsors of Leave No Trace Australia that assists outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions on how to reduce their impact when they hike, camp, bike or climb.
Aside from the products, there was a series of talks on Philippine ecotourism by representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, ecological sustainability courtesy of the Ayala Group. On the other hand representatives from Eagle Creek gave insights on packing properly.
Little booklets were given out, offering tips on being a responsible traveler. There were banners featuring models as different types of travelers using hip but environmentally conscious products with slogans like “I carry nothing but a sense of adventure.”
The travel shop, a member of the Primer Group of Companies, was launching its I Travel. I Care campaign to drum up awareness on responsible traveling, not just merely traveling. The campaign encourages customers to travel responsibly by observing several guidelines, which include the use of environmentally-friendly travel gear, supporting local businesses, selecting modes of transportation that minimize carbon emissions and sustaining local culture, among others.
With exposure from the West and the affordability of transportation, more and more Filipinos are getting into travel. One can get that idea from Filipino blogs, many of which deal with travels. However, most Filipinos still treat travel as an excursion and an opportunity to have pure fun—splashing around the beach or pool, eating out, looking for night outs and being disappointed when a place offers none. Many felt little accountability on the place they went to, thinking that they are just passing through and may not return, at least immediately, and that they are residents of the place and feel no responsibility. In the process, they leave behind, well, a trail of little “destructions.”



When Mount Banahaw was closed to pilgrims and tourists, a cleanup was done. Tons of garbage were brought down including liquor bottles and pornography, unsettling for a place considered sacred by many.
Also, the notion of travel as a source of enrichment, learning and personal growth, all of which are profoundly pleasurable with the right mindset, is still to be imbibed. Important aspects of the place and travel—the environment, the culture, the people, the history and heritage, etc.—remain untapped, unexplored and unappreciated. The knowledge of these fosters a deep appreciation and engenders a kind of responsibility, a sense of duty to protect, uphold, preserve, care.
This responsibility is being promoted by The Travel Club.
“Green travel necessitates a genuine desire to protect the natural and cultural environment of the places you visit. It entails conserving plants, wildlife and other resources; respecting local cultures and ways of life; and contributing positively to local communities,” the I Travel. I Care booklet states.
It further says, “Contrary to popular belief, engaging in green travel will not cramp your style or result in further expenses. Quite the opposite, actually. Since more and more travel agents and hotels are making a real effort to help save the environment, you don’t have to sacrifice creature comforts or go broke to be a green traveler.”
The Mad About Travel expo was aimed to prove this point. Many products were offered at discounted rates. Many products might prove to be expensive, but we are assured of high quality, thus durability that we can use them for many years. There will be lesser need to constantly buy stuff and contribute to the growing garbage.
The North Face products are one example. An old and worn but still durable bag can a stylish badge of well-traveled-ness, like wrinkles on the face connoting experience and wisdom. And a bag surely lasts very long. Moreover, The North Face designs and produces high performance outdoor equipment, apparel and footwear while reducing greenhouse emissions and minimizing waste products.



Also on the offer were Nalgene, whose products do not contain the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA), and Envirosax, which provides eco-friendly reusable bags that are lightweight, portable, waterproof and can hold the equivalent of two supermarket plastic bags.
Aside from bags and travel products, the expo also offered travel packages courtesy of travel agency Rajah Travel, presenting an opportunity to practice responsible travel through special packages to the hottest hotspots in Europe, Asia, North America, Canada and Australia. The travel agency recommended the Insight Vacations European tour for 2010, in which one can enjoy the famous Oberammergau Passion Play, a dramatic reenactment of the Passion of Christ performed every decade. For US$799, Rajah Travel can let everyone experience Europe’s legendary sights, hidden treasures, breathtaking scenery and vibrant cities. There were also discounted land and cruise packages to Asia, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
When you have decided on a travel package or for any of your travel, try to be a responsible and intelligent traveler. Take an I Travel. I Care booklet for tips. If you want to go a tad hardcore, you may want to put to heart The Responsible Traveler Creed they formulated, which says: “I travel with a bagful of knowledge about the culture of my destination, express appreciation for ethnic traditions, and show respect for the locals’ spiritual beliefs and overall way of life…I am an economically responsible traveler. I care about the livelihood and quality of life of local communities…I am an environmentally responsible traveler. I care about local ecosystems and natural resources, and strive to help protect them in any way I can.”
Here’s for a travel that is truly enjoyable, enriching and responsible.

The Travel Club stores are located at Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 3, Power Plant Mall, Alabang Town Center, Ayala Center Cebu, SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, SM City North Edsa Annex, SM Fairview, SM City Batangas, SM City Marilao, SM City Pampanga, Marquee Mall in Angeles City, SM City Clark, SM City Baguio, SM City Cebu, SM City Iloilo, SM City Davao, SM City Cagayan de Oro, Robinsons General Santos, Gateway Mall, V-Mall in Greenhills, Shangri-La Plaza, Robinsons Ermita, Festival Mall, SM City Bacolod, Robinsons Tacloban, Robinsons Dumaguete, Robinsons Ilocos Norte, Limketkai and TriNoma.

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