Transitioning a travel business

A member of the DA group has an import business (Moroccan rugs), which also has a tourist guide side to it. She feels a dilemma as far as eco sustainability of the travel business (particularly given that Morocco is in extreme drought, and experienced its first 50 C day last summer), and yet the artisans depend on income from tourists who buy their rugs.

This is such a great question! (Visit the Deep Adaptation group on Facebook and type “Morocco” in the search field; that should bring up the thread.)

Hi! Thank you so much for posting this question. It’s such a good one, and I love the responses that others have already given.

Some years back, I felt compelled to transition the in-person aspect of my occupation (sustainability educator) to eliminate long-distance travel.

I used to travel to teach/speak in person; now I am primarily a book writer and blogger, also post short videos. (I do still speak in person locally in my community.)

A little while back, while researching for a blog post the issue you bring up – because it is something that affects a lot of my readers/clientd – I found a tourism model that feels very attractive to me and might work for you.

Some people in Kazakhstan, a country I have long felt intrigued with and interested in visiting, have started a virtual tour guide business. Virtual tour guides connect with customers by teleconference app such as Zoom or Facetime, and basically walk the customer into the village / marketplace.

The customer gets to shop, pick out rugs or clothing or other traditional handcrafted items. Which the customer pays for online via secure app, and then the items are shipped to the customer.

Thanks to the internet, and the tour guide’s camera, the customer gets to talk face to face with local people, even sit down for a chat over coffee or tea etc., and see realtime views of the village, countryside, etc.

it is very likely that I will sign up for one of these virtual tours.

As a person in her 60s, who for some years traveled extensively for work and also had the privilege of taking a number of trips for her own enjoyment and education, I feel very happy to be able to switch to a mode of travel that is ethical.

If you were to offer this for morocco, I would almost certainly sign up, as I am extremely intrigued with Morocco and would love to visit there if it were not for the eco-footprint and the harm that tourism can do to local economies.

The virtual option seems to radically lessen the negative impact, while boosting the positive impact on locals.

(Side note, Regarding the carbon footprint of one’s occupation:
I also retroactively purchased carbon offsets for every single flight I could remember taking in my adult life, but I do know that carbon offsets are by no means perfect. I have taken a no-flight pledge for the duration of the rest of my life, and/or duration of the climate crisis.)

Highest regards to you, thanks for being in this group and thanks for posting your question. And do keep us informed about what approach you decide to take!

And my response to a person in the comment section who says she is 70 years old and is “selfishly” traveling by plane to see all the places she had dreamed of visiting for her whole life:

I really love and can relate to what you have written here. BTW if you are interested in options for mitigating your plane travel, if you do not already have a way to mitigate, I hear that Gold Standard are the best type of offsets.

Gold Standard offsets are focused on new tree planting & other projects, rather than taking multiple credit for existing projects, so they avoid a pitfall of many so-called carbon offsets. And, they only add a few dollars to the price of a ticket.

I no longer fly, but I purchased Gold Standard offsets to retroactively mitigate the impact of every flight I could remember taking in my adult life.