Conscious Travel: Does it matter??

Conscious Travel

Not until I have visited places like Eau Bleue, Bras D’eau or the Black River Gorges Park in Mauritius had made me realize the exquisitely beautiful yet fragile gem that my little island is bestowed with. Thanks to the volcanic eruption which occurred around 10 million years ago that has led to the creation of majestic mountains like Le Morne Brabant, or Pieter Both, spectacular waterfalls, and deep gorges.

But these days, Mauritius is typically billed as the ‘ultimate island getaway’ with its notable talcum-white sand and 5-Star hotels through aggressive ads on the internet. And that has somehow led me worrying about the situation since destination-promoters are not showing the real picture. What holidaymakers don’t see is the green side of the picturesque island. Yes, besides the white fine sand, and turquoise sea, there are the green landscapes too. While on one side some hotels allow ‘private beach access’ on the other hand eco-lodges give their guests easy access to explore nature. There’s nothing wrong in having different tastes of holidaying; some prefer luxurious and sedate kind of vacation, while others prefer more rustic and adventurous. It didn’t take me long to understand that the mantra is all about commercialization. 

Eau Bleu Waterfalls
image: Eau Bleu Waterfalls

What consumers don’t realize is the fact that over the last decades, islands like Mauritius have seen a significant depletion of its natural resources, including the white beaches and blue lagoons that are facing challenges such as sand erosion, and coral bleaching. 

When it comes to doing business, Mauritius has brilliantly positioned itself among the top 20 countries in the world, and a leader in the Sub Saharan Africa  as per the World Bank-’Doing Business Report 2019’ but very few of us know that the International Union for Conservation of Nature has ranked Mauritius as ‘the third most threatened island flora in the world (after Hawaii and the Canary Islands)’ with 89% of the Mauritian flora featured in the endangered list, and to make the situation worse 61 of the indigenous species are already extinct! Only 2% of the total area of Mauritius (2,040 km²) consist of native forest including national Parks like the Black River Gorges, Bras D’ Eau National Park, and offshore islets like Ile aux Aigrette. Statistics between 1990 and 2010 show that the island has lost an average of 200 ha or 0.51% of forested land per year. Unlike countries such as Bhutan has about 71% of its landmass covered by forest.

Conscious Travel
image: Adam Singer

While history has witnessed the terrible fate of Dodo, other species too like the Red Rail, Mauritius Blue Pigeon, Mauritius Owl, and  Mascarene Teal are already gone for good. To some these extinct animals might be just a list of names but what they actually mean is the fact that other animal species might share the same fate if we do not step in and protect them on time. And don’t be surprised if someday we might end up featuring on that very-list if we keep on neglecting our global ecosystem.

Conscious Travel - Extinct Animal
image: Wikimedia commons

Islands like Mauritius are particularly vulnerable in terms of climate change. Whether it is a hoax or not some may debate that the planet is going through its normal course. But we are already seeing drastic changes in the weather, which undoubtedly has made all of us worry. In Mauritius, the monsoon season which practically happens between February and March has led to floods in various parts of the island, including Rodrigues the sister island. Flood means rising prices of vegetables at the market. However, what’s more, appalling is not the surging vegetable prices, but the rising sea level that we are all experiencing, and Mauritius is without exception.

Conscious Travel - Mauritius Flood
image: Nasseem Ackbarally

In one of the Eye on Africa news reports, Mauritius was taken as an example for the alarming sea-level rise, whereby sandbags were put along the seashores on public beaches like Trou aux Biches to prevent sand erosion. According to the Environmental Engineer Mr. Vassen Kauppaymuthoo the average global sea-level rise is 3.2 mm annually. But in Mauritius, the situation is far more critical with a 5.6 mm rise of sea level per year. For sure we don’t want to face the same threat as the Republic of Maldives is facing in regard to the rising sea level. This flattest country of the world is projected to lose about 77 % of its land area around 2100. Other low-lying atoll islands including Seychelles are bound to become uninhabitable by the mid-century according to new research. 

Conscious Travel - Seychelles
image: Yoann Jezequel

We are indeed living in a very interesting time. With easy access to the internet now people can always cross-check their information. It only takes willingness. For sure we are starting to have a conscious group of consumers who are pretty much aware of how the tourism industry for instance function but still we have a long way to go.  If visiting places such as the zoo or  ‘elephant sanctuary’ doesn’t really make you question then I do get it why many companies are willing to invest in adverts so crazily. 

Conscious Travel Trend…

Center for Responsible Travel states that recent studies show a rise of travelers seeking authentic, unique, and localized travel. According to Booking.com, more than 68% of travelers intend to stay in an eco-accommodation in 2018. While editor Annie Fitzsimmons from National Geographic Traveler claims that family-owned properties capitalizing on travelers’ desire to make deep, local connections, will become an even bigger draw in the upcoming year.”  

Conscious travel
image: Effisk

Learn more: Conscious Travel Podcast

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