In this edition, Voyagers Voice has interviewed Anne, the founder of the tourism company Ethik hotels. Through its collaborative platform, it wants to make all users (travellers) aware of the ecological accommodations in the world and thus support and help the development of sustainable tourism.
How was the idea of creating Ethik Hotels born?
With my husband, our passion is to travel: to meet others, other cultures, and the riches of the world. Also, for several years, we began a more responsible life on a day-to-day basis. We wanted to continue having the same gestures on holiday as at home. However, when I started looking for eco-responsible accommodation, I realised it was difficult to find them amid the number of establishments. It was then that I decided to create Ethik Hotels to help all travellers like us who want a more respectful holiday. In France, 47% of French people say they would like to be able to travel in better conditions (more responsibly).
Do you think that after the pandemic, companies and tourist destinations will focus less on the number of tourists and focus more on creating a sustainable culture, where guests, suppliers, collaborators, tourism service providers, etc. are more involved?
It would be really ideal if it were that simple because this is how one observes it. However, in parallel, according to various studies we see the appearance of “revenge tourism” that, after two years of pandemic; people want to travel at all costs. Furthermore, an activity representing 10% of GDP will not be revolutionised overnight: national or regional economies depend on tourism, and some large companies depend on it. However, with new solutions such as Ethik Hotels and many others, I hope we will all do our part to turn tourism around and change the model for a sustainable and respectful solution.
Costa Rica the reference country on responsible tourism
Sustainable tourism has been talked about for a long time, however, there is still much to do. Do you think that the major culprits, because sustainable tourism is not yet so developed, are the governments of each country, the tourist companies, or the travellers themselves?
It’s never black or white. I think we all have our share of responsibility for it, so I would not say that it is caused more by the fault of one or the other. First, because sustainable tourism, although the concept has been around for a long time, it has only recently been communicated to as many people as possible. For a long time, tourists, unfortunately, did not consider the question of the impact of our activity in the same way as our daily impact. I find that all-inclusive hotels go against tourism in general.
I could say that tour operators should not have offered such offers or that states should have refused such structures in their territory. We could also say that if we had refused to travel like this, this kind of tourism would not have spread. This is why, it is difficult and impossible to find someone in charge. Now, I think that instead of looking at the past and trying to find someone responsible, we have to look to the future and build a new form of tourism.
What is the country that is better developed in terms of sustainable tourism?
When we think of sustainable tourism, we quickly think of Costa Rica. The entire country has been committed for many years to a more responsible approach that has an impact on tourism. Therefore, Costa Rica is well advanced in the process. However, today many countries or regions are also taking this responsible tourism approach. We also wrote an article on this topic on our blog:
10 responsible tourism commandments
To be a sustainable tourism company, on what criteria do you base yourself?
We have based ourselves on simple, everyday criteria that are easily identifiable by travellers. They are eight in number and you need to respect at least three of them. Check them all here. One of our premises is “why do you do in someone else’s house what you don’t do in your own house?” The aim is to talk about sustainable tourism without giving travelers the impression that sustainable tourism is inaccessible and that the constraints are too great to overcome. Many have the impression that all this is just to be in a cabin with rustic toilets in the middle of the forest. It is very restrictive, while many companies of all types and budgets have implemented ecologically responsible actions.
In addition, the fact that we have easy tools so that travellers can later share their opinion with us, to ensure that the accommodation fully complies with the services provided. And as more resources will be spent to travel everywhere to make sure everything works well in each accommodation. That’s why we want travellers involved, so always be aware of everything that happens.
What criteria should a solidarity traveller who respects ecological and sustainable tourism have?
It is difficult to list the criteria because it is so broad. However, this concerns respect for the environment, people habits and customs. We must remember that we are not at home, so it is up to us to adapt and limit the impact of our visit. Among other things, we can talk about not littering, respecting the monuments, eating locally, staying off the beaten path… We have written the 10 commandments of the responsible traveller.
Sustainable tourism does not need to be more expensive
Do you think that there are many companies or tourist destinations that support sustainable tourism simply for the mere fact of improving their reputation, however they do nothing or do very little to be so?
As in all areas, some companies practice greenwashing (a green marketing practice that aims to create a fake image of environmental responsibility). This is both good and bad. Because it still has the advantage of people talking about sustainable tourism, especially if they are companies with significant assets. On the other hand, if the promise is not fulfilled, I am afraid that travellers will reject all companies that offer sustainable tourism and stick to the old habits, even if many companies like Ethik Hotels, which are honest and seek to promote change in the sector.
Is sustainable tourism more expensive than the traditional model?
It is a conception, or prejudice, which, however, does not correspond exactly to reality. Indeed, there are all kinds of eco-responsible accommodation: campsites, hotels, unusual accommodation and ecolodges. So, there is something for all tastes and all pockets. Practicing sustainable tourism means having a less consumerist lifestyle. It is therefore practicing slow tourism, that is, taking your time and therefore not running after the activities. It is also opting for soft mobility: walking or cycling. These are things that cost little in the end. So there is something for everyone and for all budgets.
Which of the countries you have visited you like the most?
I always have a hard time answering these kinds of questions. However, I have favourite destinations, such as Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Peru.
I am also lucky to live in France. It is a beautiful country with many magnificent regions. So, even without going very far, I discover wonders.
Which is your favourite place to holiday in France?
I anticipated the question? I’m originally from Nantes, so my chauvinistic side makes me answer Nantes! However, there are many very beautiful regions. Brittany is really superb, very well preserved. The Annecy region is also magnificent. And I am also a lover of Paris. And let yourself be surprised because in France you can still discover little-known places that are really valuable. Last summer we went to Amiens for a weekend. At first, this place attracted little attention to us, only with the information we had read about it, but later, as always, we overcame the prejudices and spent a wonderful weekend there.. The city is brilliant. In short, once again, it is very difficult to choose. France, in general, is very beautiful!
As a traveller on which basis do you plan a trip? Accommodation? Sights? Cultural interest? Something else?
I first choose the program for our road trip according to the things to do and see. Only after that I look for eco-responsible accommodation on our trip. The destination is still the first criterion and then I strive to make our vacations as eco-responsible as possible by choosing the best accommodation and how we are going to visit the places.