Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Step Up Travel - Sustainable Travel Does Web 2.0

"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."
The Travel Network will be the real test of the success of Step Up Travel in achieving its goals of linking local people with concerned and responsible tourists. I have joined and it is successful.


Ron said...

Thanks for the mention and link to Planeta.com. You're right, we are due for an update. Perhaps wikification is in the wind.

Meanwhile, take a look at our online forum -- http://forum.planet.com -- and pictures -- http://www.flickr.com/photos/planeta

We might not be entire 2.0, but much of our site is well on its way.

As far as bragging rights for who is the first to implement a responsible tourism 2.0 site from scratch, I think the honor belongs to afterwilma.info

Alan A. Lew, The Travel Geographer said...

If you do a search on "Responsible Travel" other websites will come up. Many are on the verge of Web 2.0, so although Step Up Travel is taking a bit of lead here, I think others will catch up soon.

Another site to check out, for comparison, is http://responsibletravel.com

worldtraveler said...

Hi Ron and Alan,
Great discussion.

Ron, Planeta is a great website and we look forward to the updates you mentioned.

Afterwilma looks like an interesting travel blog. I was sorry to see that they have not posted an new article since Sept 2006 and the editor has said that he will be deactivating the Web 2.0 functionality on this blog, "post comments".."In part because my energies are focused elsewhere at the moment, and more annoyingly because there are more than 9,000 spam comments waiting for me to wade through."
This highlights the importance of smart anti-spam programming for a successful Web 2.0 travel site.

Step Up Trave is currently exploring interesting partnerships in both the sustainable travel and web programming spheres.

This field is full of great people, with bright ideas and hopes for the future of responsible travel and genuine benefit for local communities; we are pleased to be part of it.