Comment: Why postponing holidays helps support local communities and conservation efforts

Conservation work and sustainable travel have been a priority for Abercrombie & Kent since the brand’s inception almost 60 years ago. Here, UK managing director Kerry Golds shares her concerns for communities and conservation projects who see travel as a lifeline, and will no doubt be affected by the global coronavirus crisis.

 

 

 

When it comes to sustainable, equitable tourism, the travel industry has made huge leaps forward in recent years – and we’re far from finished. However, the current global crisis risks undermining this collective effort by cutting off vital support for the communities and conservation projects that need it most.

 

That’s why we at A&K are echoing the recent advice from Abta: “if possible, postpone your holiday or travel arrangements, don’t cancel.” 


Each booking is a lifeline, not just for the travel operator, but also for the destinations closest to our hearts. By postponing, clients are maintaining that investment, which can make all the difference in such uncertain times.

A&K Philanthropy, our charitable arm, actively supports projects around the globe, including animal conservation initiatives. As tourism money dries up, those initiatives dedicated to protecting wildlife are losing money, and thus their ability to defend against poaching and other existential threats. 


Chris Haslam, chief travel writer for The Sunday Times, highlighted the very real risks in a recent article. He said: “The ripple effect from the collapse of tourism is threatening to wipe out decades of conservation work… When wildlife stops paying its way as a spectacle for visitors, the temptation is to commandeer that habitat for other purposes.” 


And it’s not just wildlife at risk, either. Many community projects enabling a route out of poverty for local people depend upon funds from tourism.

 

This is a situation affecting all of us. The past few weeks at A&K have been some of the most challenging since our inception nearly 60 years ago. We want to rise to that challenge by ensuring the amazing people we work with across the world know that, once the dust settles, our clients will be on the next available flight to them.

 

So, if clients are a little unsure whether to keep their booking, we urge you to consider postponement over cancellation. Juliet Kinsman, writing for Condé Nast Traveller, perhaps said it best: “Changing the date of that booked holiday is the kindest thing to do right now.” 

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