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It’s an old question for those of us who travel frequently — how can we travel sustainably when traveling itself is inherently the opposite?
Commercial domestic flight operations account for approximately 4% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, while the travel industry overall adds somewhere between 8% and 11% greenhouse gas emissions globally, much of which comes from the U.S.
Online travel booking portal Bookmundi thinks it may have found the answer to this dilemma — by automatically offsetting the carbon footprint generated by all tours booked through its website.
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If you search on their website, you’ll find more than 15,000 tours and package trips available in more than 138 countries, in places such as Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Australia and India. Bookmundi users can book private, group and tailor-made tours and trips organized by 1,500-plus local and international tour operators and travel experts worldwide.
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Beyond that, the company recently launched a twofold push to allow travelers to see the environmental outcome of a trip they’re planning in real time via data calculating carbon emissions per person per trip from start to finish, including those resulting from accommodations, transportation, meals and other activities.
“The initiative is aimed at making travel more environmentally conscious and attractive to eco-friendly customers,” says the Copenhagen-based platform, which hopes travelers will feel compelled to carbon offset their travels by, at the very minimum, considering the greenhouse gases you contribute traveling, both directly and indirectly.
“Everybody has a responsibility to help combat climate change, including booking portals and marketplaces,” Bookmundi CEO and founder Rasmus Juul-Olsen said in a statement. “In an ideal world, considering that the travel industry accounts for a significant portion of CO2 emissions, it should in fact be neither possible nor lawful to sell a tour without it being carbon offset.”
Additionally, Bookmundi invests in carbon-reduction projects around the world to offset the carbon dioxide emissions from trips.
“Some of these projects include planting eight million trees in Colombia, investing in conservation projects in the Peruvian Amazon, investing in building windmills in India and developing solar power in Turkey to replace fossil fuels,” it said.
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Its efforts are also unique in that it places additional responsibility on the company — in a sense, a public display of putting their money where their mouth is.
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“As a traveler, you do not have to worry about additional fees, as the carbon offsetting is already embedded into the cost of each trip,” the CEO said. “Customers finally have the choice to buy a trip that is already carbon offset.”
Of course, sustainable travel comes at a price. In viewing trips, I found tours ranging from $500 to $2,000 depending on destination and length of stay. It’s an effort the company founded in 2015 hopes justifies the cost.
And it’ll certainly take collective movement from the tourism industry as a whole to make a significant impact.
“The industry as a whole has acted far too slowly,” said Juul-Olsen. “The good news is that a future will soon emerge where tour operators, travel-booking platforms, and, in principle, any supplier of tourism-related services should transition to sustainable trips and services, not only to help combat climate change but to remain competitive and survive as a business.”
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