Each day, more than three million tourists cross international borders, and every year more than one billion people travel abroad. Simply put, travel and tourism combined are now one of the world’s largest industries. To make sure that the power of travel is harnessed as a positive force for people and the planet, the United Nations declared 2017 The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The three key pillars of Sustainable Tourism are:
Support for Protecting Cultural and Natural Heritage
Social and Economic Benefits to Local People
At Big Five, our longstanding commitment to sustainable tourism runs deep, and we are proud to have won the prestigious Virtuoso Sustainable Tourism Leadership Award, twice (2014 and 2016). We know that experiencing an outstanding vacation and supporting the pillars of sustainable tourism can go hand in hand. We are proud to share with you how traveling with Big Five can help to support cultural heritage, protect endangered species, deliver local economic benefits, and further cross-cultural understanding and peace in the world – all wrapped together into the journey of a lifetime.
When many people think about the protection of cultural heritage, what often comes to mind is protecting archeological sites, such as the ancient Mayan pyramids of Mexico and Belize or historic landmarks like the age-old wooden temples of Kyoto. Of course, they are right, but protecting cultural heritage as part of sustainable tourism best practices goes beyond simply historical structures and archeological treasures. It also embraces what is called Living Cultural Heritage, which encompasses language, craft, music, dance, art, textile and culinary traditions.
As travelers, one of the most valuable, and often most cherished, things we seek is to engage with authentic living cultures in other parts of the world. For one person that might mean attending a performance of the Morin Huur Ensemble (Mongolia’s Horsehead Fiddle Orchestra) in Ulaanbataar. For another, the experience might entail learning to make traditional Peruvian ceviche in a hand-ons cooking class before dining in one of Lima’s celebrated restaurants. Or, it may be visiting a local Maasai Women’s jewelry–making group in Kenya, where each handcrafted bead tells a story – the colors and patterns of each bead reveal a different cultural meaning that has been passed down through generations of mothers and daughters. The choices are endless.
This has always been at the core of Big Five. From its beginnings in Kenya, Big Five has sought to share Africa’s living cultures as well as the phenomenal wildlife with its guests. And we have carried that theme around the globe.
In Australia’s Arnhem Land, you can explore ancient territories that have been in habited for some 50,000 years by Aboriginal peoples. You experience this remarkable traditional culture. Arnhem Land is perhaps the one area in Australia where the indigenous culture is still dominant, despite a long history of interaction with other cultures. Arnhem Land today has managed to maintain its frontier identity and is the homeland of some 20,000 indigenous people. In our Wild Australia journey, you engage with stories and traditions of this community, see ancient cave paintings, watch women weave pandanus baskets, and learn about its myths and legends such as the creationist tales of Dreamtime.
In Chile at Huilo Huilo, you can encounter the living heritage seen in a collection of indigenous groups that are known overall as the Mapuche, who share a common social, religious and economic structure, as well as a common linguistic heritage as Mapudungun speakers. The Mapuche community today is working to maintain a proud heritage through a number of initiatives, including workshops that benefit local students such as art, painting, dance, wood carving, music, and baking and chocolate-making. You interact with members of this community and learn about their rich traditions, customs and mythology. You can discover this traditional community on our Chile’s Patagonia & Mapuche Culture.
Looking for more information on Sustainable Travel? Visit our informative site for sustainable travel efforts.