Sustainable Travel in Belize Saving The Planet One Vacation At A Time
Imagine a visiting a travel destination that offers amazing geographical diversity, an incredible range of activities and experiences, stunning beauty, cultural immersion, a choice of accommodation, from basic backpackers to sumptuous luxury, and is populated by what are universally considered to be some of the friendliest people anywhere.
And then imagine that visiting there actually contributes to the health of the planet and the people on it.
A recent article in the UK’s Telegraph titled “The Holiday Destinations that are Saving The Planet” includes Belize as one of those places, and we couldn’t agree more.
Following some tips on reducing your carbon footprint while travelling, the Telegraph suggests that travellers “Choose one of the following destinations,” sandwiching tiny Belize between the obvious choices of Switzerland and Denmark.
After highlighting the World Heritage-listed Belize Barrier Reef, the Maya ruins and the fact that the former British Colony is Central America’s only English speaking country, Telegraph Travel writer Nigel Tisdall gives his impressions of a recent visit:
“One joy of travelling here is how empty Belize seems. While neighbouring Mexico and Guatemala are famously populous and exuberant, here the roads are quiet, the beaches relaxed, the archaeological sites often blissfully free of crowds.”
And that’s how we like it. Belize is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the Americas, with over a quarter of the entire landmass and sea under some sort of protection. This means that, even in high season, visitors have the time and space to get to know the people and country – in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
Under the heading of “Eco Credentials,” the Telegraph article acknowledges Belizean eco-lodges like Chaa Creek, and quotes a 2018 Ethical Traveler report that noted;
“In June, the Belize government made a major voluntary commitment at the UN Oceans Conference to secure Belize’s fisheries as an engine for sustainable development, while in October, the government established the first ever ray sanctuary and introduced a moratorium on offshore oil drilling.”
Ethical Travel is the same watchdog/travel advice organisation that last year included Belize in its list of “The World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations for 2017,” citing criteria such as Environmental Protection, Social Welfare, Human Rights and other ethical markers.
Which brings us to an important question – why should you care? Isn’t the point of a vacation to have a good time, forget about weighty issues, relax and enjoy life?
Exactly. And after years of promoting sustainable tourism and responsible travel, we’ve learned that people have a better time and sleep easier in a destination that, like Belize, has strong ethical underpinnings.
Environmental sustainability means that the beauty you’re immersed in is protected and will be around for your children and their children to enjoy. Social Welfare means that you’re more likely to be surrounded by happy people who aren’t driven by desperation and envy to pick your pockets. Ditto Human Rights. Being in a democratic nation where the rule of law prevails makes for a relaxing, carefree visit.
So yes, we believe that these considerations are an important part of travel and tourism, and explains why we’re so proud of Belize’s record in this area.
We’re also proud that Chaa Creek is recognised worldwide for pioneering Belizean eco-tourism since 1981. The numerous awards – especially the first place honour at last year’s National Geographic World Legacy Awards conferred upon owners Mick and Lucy Fleming in Berlin – are gratifying.
But what really gives us satisfaction is seeing how enthusiastically our guests respond to initiatives like the Chaa Creek Cares program that sees ten percent of all room revenue going directly into environmental and community projects, and the very friendly relationships we see developing every day between our guests, members of the local communities and our 160 staff members.
In a National Geographic Travel feature, “The Best In Sustainability” editor Costas Christ described Chaa Creek’s growth and the Fleming’s success in promoting environmental sustainability and social wellbeing:
“Call it the romance of doing well and doing good.”