So let’s start from the beginning: Isn’t this a platform to collect travel information? What does sustainability have to do with this? Sustainability is not only a huge issue in tourism, it is also a core principle of Travel Kollekt, and it deserves to be argued for and explained why it is a central idea.
Today sustainability should be a core value of anyone’s venture, any travel experience, any business enterprise and, basically, anyone’s life. And yet, it is often just one of those nuisances knocking on the door and asking to be heard, triggering our sense of guilt when we feel like we’re not in the mood for another speech about recycling, energy savings and so on. And here is the good news: we don’t want to lecture our readers, we just want to bring it up, talk about it and keep talking about it, all while “kollekting” content about the beautiful places in this world.
As a Ph.D. student in social science, I literally spend my life trying to understand the whys and the hows of people’s behavior, so this is what I want to talk about in this post. It is quite intuitive that for a sustainable world, we need sustainable behavior. But how do we get there? And why aren’t we there yet? I will leave the job to answer these questions to more competent people, but there is one thought I would like to put out there: I believe that acting sustainably is not part of our normal way of doing things, and it is time for it to becomes so.
Have you ever heard of the “value-action gap”? It is a concept used in environmental studies to describe when a person’s actions don’t correspond to their values and attitudes, and it is used to explain why even people who care a lot about environmental issues do not always act to solve environmental problems. And guess what is the first barrier to sustainable behavior? A lack of information. Increasing information on specific issues is the first, and arguably most the important, step towards changing people’s actions. It is as simple as that: read about it more, hear about it more, talk about it more, and little by little your way of thinking will change and your actions will follow. It will become normal to factor sustainability into your everyday decisions. It might take some time, and it is definitely not the whole solution, but it is the only place to start.
This is where Travel Kollekt comes into play: being an information platform, Travel Kollekt does have a tiny share of power when it comes to spreading information, and authors can play a role in closing this value-action gap. Although Travel Kollekt does not create the content, by making sustainability one of its core principles, it can ensure that the authors we invite to write on the platform will keep it in mind.
Every travel destination has its own challenges regarding both the environment and society, but how often do we read about it in our travel guides, blogs or social media posts? How often does a post on the beauties of India spend a line or two mentioning the impact of tourism on Indian society, on labor conditions and how tourists’ behavior affects them? How many of those “Top 10 hidden gems” articles mention how economically, socially and environmentally problematic it is when mass tourism reaches those off-the-beaten-path destinations? We all want to visit beautiful places, but if we are not aware of the challenges and issues that affect these places, or how to prevent our actions from having a harmful impact, we could just end up making it worse.
So this is one of the reasons why the Travel Kollekt concept is based on “planning, sustainability, serendipity”: We work to offer insights and information that will help sustainability in tourism needs to become a normal part of any travel experience. We believe that information is a possible first step.
This post is written by Micol Mieli, Ph.D. Candidate at Lund University & Writer at Travel Kollekt