"We promote responsible travel which emphasizes the importance of personal exchanges, deeper cultural understanding, genuine benefit to local people and their communities, preservation of the environment, and ultimately a more peaceful and equitable world."
Step Up Travel claims to be the first application of Web 2.0 to Responsible Travel, and I think they may be right. There are older websites devoted to responsible travel, including both resources on responsible travel issues and listings of responsible tour products. Two that I am familiar with are Planeta.com and the Big Volcano Ecotourism Centre. But both of these are in need of a major Web 2.0 face lift. And there is the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, which is sometimes related to the more commercial National Geographic Traveler. As colorful and engaging as National Geographic is, however, it lacks a social interface and comes across as more institutional and less in touch with the "real" people in a destination.
So I think, yes, Step Up Travel is the first responsible travel site on the Web 2.0 era:
- It has an attractive and clean interface,
- it provides resources to help make travel more responsible,
- it appears to be making a concerted effort to market truly local products that support the destination, and
- it has a Travel Network for "Socially-minded Travelers to Connect with local people, Get off the beaten path, and Change the face of travel."