The tourism industry is a complex network of millions of suppliers and consumers who exchange experiences and sell their services. The traditional model for these relationships is built around increasing the number of visitors to ensure a return on investment and multiply revenues. Unfortunately, these conventional models of tourism often ignore the real condition of the destinations visited and the associated tourism industry. Covid-19 has shown the world how vulnerable the tourism, hospitality and catering industry is to various external factors, while at the same time how ill-considered decisions and the pursuit of profit have a devastating impact on people and the environment.

A number of global organisations and associations are undertaking various initiatives to get decision-makers and tourists to understand the impact that tourism has on destinations and the people living there, both in the short and long term.

Decisions made in the development of destinations and products for tourists need to be more broadly considered in order to reduce the negative impacts of tourism.

The term and concept of regenerative tourism is increasingly prevalent in the broad discussion of sustainable tourism development.  This poses some challenges, but the concept seems to be essential for a comprehensive discussion of sustainable tourism.

Regenerative travel is a concept that proposes an even more holistic approach to tourism development, it is the next step in our journey towards sustainable travel. Sustainability is about making sure that the resources we use today will be available for future generations; regeneration is about making sure that what we do now goes back into the system we use. It is about being proactive and acting purposefully.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines regeneration as ‘the activity of making something grow or be grown again’. So regeneration journeys are journeys that allow an area or environment to grow or grow again.

Rather than just leaving a lighter footprint, we use this footprint to fertilise an area so that it can regenerate and grow even stronger in the future.


New Zealand is one excellent example of how regenerative travel can work. Tourism New Zealand, the country’s official tourism organisation, invites all visitors to take the Tiaki Promise. This is a pledge to care for New Zealand – to care for the people, culture, land, sea and nature. The pledge reads: “When travelling in New Zealand, I will care for the land, sea and nature, treading lightly and leaving no footprints; I will travel safely, showing care and attention to all; I will respect the culture, travelling with an open heart and mind.”

I think this is how we should always travel, wherever we are, and I really like that New Zealand is making a conscious decision to allow travellers to do this.

I also like the fact that this is a promise that travellers make to the destination – the land, the sea and the people. As travellers, we have a huge impact on the world around us, including the places we choose to visit. Our impact on this environment matters and we should treat the land and its people with the same love, care and respect that we show to our own countries and family.

The Philippines has another great example of how regenerative travel can work. They offer visitors to Boracay the chance to preserve the island by ‘vowing to make Boracay better’. The government closed the island for six months to focus on its regeneration. During this time, the island was rehabilitated and transformed into a cleaner and more sustainable place for residents and tourists. By taking the oath, travellers pledge to help maintain the island to make it a great place to live and visit.

Rwanda Singita Kwitonda Lodge, situated on 178 acres of fertile land on the edge of the Volcanoes National Park, has been developed in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board and local communities. The project takes a long-term, holistic approach to conservation on the edge of the park. The long-term, 100-year vision of the project is to build sustainable revenue streams that will fund the conservation of Africa’s wildlife for future generations. Tourists visiting Rwanda are also encouraged to join the project through information, lectures and invitations to actively participate. These initiatives are not only aimed at conservation, but are in line with the idea of regenerative tourism, the restoration of Rwanda’s natural resources.

Costa Rica Hotel Arenas del Mar

Costa Rica is a model of how eco-tourism can transform a country. Hotel Arenas del Mar is located in an important ‘corridor’ for wildlife, between the rainforest and the Pacific Ocean. Nature conservation is an integral part of the hotel’s sustainable operating philosophy. The hotel’s staff has made an effort to reforest adjacent land over the past two decades. This is an excellent example of a regenerative approach to sustainability. Not only is an effort being made here to leave a smaller carbon footprint, to destroy less, but nature restoration is important here. More than 7,000 native tree species and thousands of endemic plants have already been planted there. Guests of the hotel are also invited to join these initiatives. They can choose to make a donation to local schools or plant a tree.

In the race to reduce carbon emissions, regenerative tourism is a fairly new trend and somewhat of a challenge. Travellers who have regenerative tourism at heart often have a problem in finding suitable destinations for their trips.

Fortunately, more and more places, regions, destinations and businesses understand that the definition of sustainable tourism needs to be enriched with the term ‘regenerative tourism’.


Sources:  World Travel & Tourism Council, Responsible Travel Blog

Hussain, Asif (2021) “A Future of Tourism Industry: Conscious Travel, Destination Recovery and Regenerative Tourism,” Journal of Sustainability and Resilience:


28 November 2022

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