Travel is a powerful force for good, and yet through our sheer numbers alone, we travelers often unwittingly put delicate human and natural ecosystems at risk. This special issue addresses the all-important subject of responsible travel. The passion for exploration that we at Travel + Leisure share with you, our readers, must involve a commitment to preserve the pleasures we all seek if others are to enjoy them as well.
In the coming pages, T+L takes stock of the forces of change and the ways in which they are affecting the diversity and the singular qualities of destinations, paying particular attention to conservation, cultural preservation, and sustainable development—or, to put it simply, nature, traditions, and community. For our cover story, we follow Julian Rubinstein to Central America ("The New Costa Rica") to see what happens when the world’s original ecotourism destination grows up. Jeff Wise’s report from Greenland, "The Melting Point", marks the fourth installment of our pioneering series on global warming, launched in January 2007; in "20 Trips That Will Change Your World" we offer itineraries with a light footprint and a positive effect. For "Women at Work", Shane Mitchell sits down with weavers and beaders in handicraft collectives in India and Kenya, and observes how their lives have been changed for the better as they produce and sell their wares. And long before local food became a catchphrase, Spain’s tapas were defining regional cuisine, as Anya von Bremzen’s Iberian quest for the best small plates ("Viva la Tapa") makes clear.
Travel’s strongest impact—and the heart of its future legacy—lies in its economic reach. The travel and tourism economy is estimated to account for 77 million jobs worldwide and over 10 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, or $7 trillion. In developing countries and regions where disaster has struck, tourist dollars can transform lives. This is evident in Peter Jon Lindberg’s poignant examination of the central role that tourism is playing in the revitalization of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina ("Soul Survivor").
Finally, for the third year, the magazine presents its Global Vision Awards, which recognize the indefatigable individuals and organizations working to preserve the world’s treasures, natural and man-made. We are happy to report that T+L will make a charitable contribution to Future Generations, this year’s award-winner in ecological conservation, to offset the carbon footprint of producing our November issue. Our gift will help support the nonprofit’s conservation and community development work in Tibet and India.
Since the April issue, our paper has been coming from an environmentally responsible mill that has already decreased its carbon dioxide emissions by 70,000 metric tons annually. Even so, the environmental cost of manufacturing the magazine, sending our writers and photographers on assignment across the globe, and maintaining our New York offices is estimated to be 700 metric tons of carbon emissions per issue. As we pursue ways to reduce that total, we are delighted to underscore this commitment through our donation to Future Generations.
T+L’s November issue is just one step along the way. We will continue to bring you more stories on responsible travel and news of other exciting T+L initiatives. We can change the world, one trip at a time.