Embrace change and make travel matter, says Ulla Hefel Böhler, chief executive of Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold

With 2018 rapidly drawing to a close, it’s a great time to take stock of the year that was, and to look ahead to the trends that will dominate in 2019 and beyond. Over the last 12 months we saw cities pushing back against tides of tourists and destinations closing their doors forever. The industry has had to take a hard look at itself and it’s clear that 2018 heralded a real turning point in the way we will holiday moving forward.

Travel is a privilege and with that comes the responsibility to make good choices, so it’s heartening to see that today’s holidaymakers are ever increasingly more aware of their potential impact. According to a 2018 survey by Booking.com, 87% of global travellers say that they want to travel sustainably. This means that the businesses offering meaningful holiday experiences, authentic cultural connections, and making positive differences to the places into which they bring guests will be the best positioned for success in a more purpose-driven future of travel. There is real opportunity here for agents as well. The same survey stated that, in reality, just under half of global travellers never, rarely or only sometimes manage to travel sustainably. Agents have a massive role to play in bridging this divide, by uniting their sustainably-minded clients with the operators that are driving responsible travel.

At Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold our mission is to create enriching travel experiences for our guests by protecting and conserving the beautiful environments, fascinating cultures and awe-inspiring communities that exist around the world. We do much of this through our partnership with The TreadRight Foundation, a non-profit that was founded a decade ago by our parent company, The Travel Corporation (TTC), to safeguard people, wildlife and the planet for generations to come, and to incorporate purpose-driven travel into the DNA of our family of global travel brands.

We include many TreadRight experiences on our trips – the most recent of which is the Iraq al-Amir Women’s Cooperative in Jordan. Founded by the Noor Al-Hussein Foundation in 1993, the Cooperative aims to make the women in the area financially independent and to raise their standard of living by increasing their income and preserving local heritage. Managed and run by local women, it has provided training projects for more than 150 women from all villages of Wadi Seer on a variety of handicrafts. From 2019, our guests who travel to Jordan will have the amazing opportunity to visit the Cooperative and experience this preservation of local heritage first-hand, trying out some of the handicraft activities and meeting the incredible women involved. See the project in action.

We support and connect our guests to many more projects like this one, right around the world, and the benefit to the people, communities and to our travellers is something that we take enormous pride in.

The industry, agents and the travellers themselves are the keys to a new, purpose-driven future of travel. By embracing the change and making travel matter – really matter – we can ensure that 2019 is a year to be remembered for its impactful and positive transformation of our amazing industry.