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Can sustainable travel be a catalyst for changing the world and helping to reverse climate change?

One of the best ways of exploring this complex question is by watching educational documentaries about sustainable travel and the future of tourism.

Today, mass tourism is causing a lot of problems around the world. While the pandemic offered a brief mindful pause and the chance to reinvent tourism, the post-pandemic explosion in spending by tourists has resulted in an acceleration of the negative effects of unsustainable tourism practices in many places.

Fortunately, there are many ways that we could potentially transform travel so that it doesn’t destroy the environment we explore, the wildlife we love or the local communities that depend on tourism.

I hope that by watching some of these excellent documentary films, you can gain new insights and learn from what some of the world’s leading ecotourism destinations and visionaries are doing to imagine a different future where sustainable tourism is a key priority.

1. What Is Ecotourism?

If you’re new to the concept of ecotourism, this documentary is a good introduction to different sustainable tourism practices that are being implemented around the world.

The film explores what a version 2.0 of tourism could look like where mindful travellers reconnect with nature and learn about sustainable living and local conservation projects in the communities they visit.

2. The Last Tourist

The Last Tourist tells the tragic story of how mass tourism is unintentionally destroying the environment, wildlife and vulnerably communities around the world.

It was filmed in over 15 countries who are some of the world’s leading sustainable tourism destinations and it features a number of thought-provoking ideas from conversation visionaries who see a different path for the future of tourism.

3. Choosing Ecotourism: The Future We Want

This documentary showcases how ecotourism doesn’t have to be just nature-based tourism but it can contribute to local conversation and help vulnerable communities.

Choosing Ecotourism was filmed in the country of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia and it tells the story of how ecotourism supports two mountain communities actively engaged in the conservation of the elusive snow leopard and its spectacular habitats in the Tianshan Mountains.

4. Can Tourism Ever Really Help The Environment?

In this BBC episode of the Climate Question, presenter Qasa Alom explores how Costa Rica has become a mecca for tropical ecotourism and both the positive and negative impacts it has had on its environment, wildlife and communities.

He asked the question of whether ecotourism can be a force for good or just another threat to the planet in this thought-provoking short film.

5. The Environmental Tourist: An Ecotourism Revolution

This film was released in 1991 and it might look a little dated but it was one of the first documentary films to explore the attitude and ethics of ecotourism and how travel can contribute to conservation.

The Environmental Tourist was produced by the Audubon Society and it covers three nature-based tourism destinations around the world: tropical tourism Belize, hiking tourism in Glacier National Park in Montana and safari tourism with the Masai Mara and Amboseli National Park in Kenya.

As these documentaries show, there is so much opportunity for different ways of thinking and innovation in tourism to create a more sustainable industry.

I hope these documentary films inspire you to travel more sustainably or even to start your own ecotourism business to promote experiential learning, sustainable living and community building where you live.

Kyle Pearce

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