Image: Love2Stay Glamping resort, Shropshire.
Do you think of yourself as an ‘eco tourist’? Perhaps you don’t, but if you have enjoyed a glamping break before, there is a good chance that you have participated in eco tourism. That’s because in so many ways, glamping lends itself to eco holidays in the UK which are kinder to the environment.
The growth of glamping in the UK has mirrored the rise of eco tourism, and holds a similar appeal to the younger generation. According to a study by GlobalData, some 41 per cent of millennials say that they are interested in booking a sustainable holiday, highlighting how eco-tourism has shifted from an alternative holiday option into the mainstream.
So let’s get to the heart of this exciting 21st Century tourism trend. In this article, we nail down the definition of eco-tourism, explain why glamping and eco-tourism works, illuminate some of the latest eco-friendly glamping innovations, and ask an expert for their take on glamping & eco breaks in the UK.
What is eco-holiday?
According to the International Ecotourism Society, eco-tourism is "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of local people, and involves interpretation and education".
The United Nations is among the organisations to champion eco-tourism, highlighting the importance of giving the tourism industry a more sustainable path, thereby ‘future proofing’ it.
It is open to debate whether the primary purpose of eco tourism is to enjoy nature itself, or to play a part in nature’s conservation. Regardless, as we will see in this article, the two objectives often go hand in hand.
Eco Lodges & Eco-Holidays: Why it works
Image: Love2Stay Glamping resort
So why do glamping holidays help eco-holidays grow? Here are a few reasons:
- Immersed in nature – glamping resorts are often located right in the middle of rural areas which exhibit outstanding natural beauty. This allows glampers to experience nature with no filter, immersing themselves in an outdoor environment from the moment they wake up, to when they go to sleep.
- Sustainable construction – many glamping resorts are constructed with sustainability in mind. That means using materials with less of an environmental impact, such as certain types of wood which comes from replaceable and fast growing species of trees.
- Forget flying – while there are now international options aplenty for glamping breaks, the UK is seen as the de facto home of glamping, with a wealth of resorts to choose from all over the country. That means there is no need to book air travel, which is known as one of the least environmentally friendly ways of getting around.
- Engendering understanding – it follows that once we have experienced and enjoyed nature, we can foster a greater understanding of it, and appreciation for it. A glamping break can remind us just how amazing our planet is, and in turn encourage us to be more mindful of the environment in our every day life.
- Environmentally conscious – you can find that glamping resorts themselves are more concerned with their environmental footprint, due to the nature of the eco cabin holidays business. When being competitive relies on preserving an outdoor space, there is even more incentive to care for it.
Eco-friendly glamping in 2019
Image: Eco Lodge at Love2Stay Glamping Village
Glamping has seen a wave of eco-friendly innovations over the past few years. They have helped make the ‘glamping experience’ totally unique, and have done no harm at all for publicity! So in this section we throw the spotlight on some of the most exciting examples of eco-friendly glamping in evidence today:
Image: Ecocapsule® is a smart, self-sustainable micro-home
Ecocapsules providing an ‘off grid’ lifestyle which is completely powered by solar and wind energy, offering an eco-friendly glamping accommodation option. Inside, you will find all sorts of ‘smart’ features comparable to the latest smart homes, with luxury touches that are more akin to hotel rooms than tents. Ecocapsules can be placed in the most dramatic locations, on hills, beaches, or even suspended from trees in the middle of forests. Ecocapsules, arguably more than any other accommodation type, represent what eco-friendly glamping truly means.
Image: Love2Stay outdoor bio swimming pool.
Are you loathe to take a dip at the hotel pool for fear of emerging from the water smelling like a chemical experiment? When there is no beach in sight, swimming options can be limited, but forward thinking resorts such as Love2Stay have come up with a solution. A completely natural, chemical-free pool which can actually benefit, rather than shrivel, the skin, and won’t leave you feeling like you’ve been dipped in a test tube. Perfect for eco family holidays!
Locally sourced menus
Menus which focus on local provenance are all the rage in leading eateries around the country, and glamping resorts haven’t needed much encouragement to ensure dining options showcase foods which are locally and regionally sourced. Whether it’s a reindeer supper cooked over an open fire in Finland, or sole delivered fresh from the boat to your glamping hideaway in Kent – glamping is the perfect opportunity to experience an area’s native food. It all goes towards cutting down our food’s travel time, minimising the carbon footprint and supporting local suppliers in the process.
Being resourceful is one way of doing your bit for the environment. Why consign something to the scrap heap, or destroy it completely, when it can be given a completely new lease of life? Some glamping resorts have restored old Airstream caravans and packed them with luxury touches, offering a cool and environmentally conscious accommodation option, which doesn’t require you to get any ancient engines started! Other glamping pods are created from previously derelict buildings. In the UK alone there are plenty of examples; from renewed circus wagons to former shepherd’s dens and refurbished traveller caravans.
You might recall from the definition quoted earlier in this article, that eco tourism “sustains the well-being of local people”, and some glamping resorts take this responsibility very serious indeed. Longitude 131 in Australia’s remote Northern Territory works with the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority in order to support its area’s cultural heritage. Exhaustive flora surveys were undertaken in order to protect vulnerable species, and the Indigenous Land Corporation's indigenous training and development programme.
Being a slave to your smart phone or laptop can be mentally draining, and so if you do lead a digital lifestyle, it can be revitalising to take a break. The electronic devices which we use daily also use up electricity, and so the new breed of glamping resorts which offers a ‘disconnected’ environment can be eco-friendly as well as personally rewarding. Glamping can be a great way to take a digital detox, and resorts often combine a ‘no wifi’ policy with eco lodges powered by energy sourced naturally through wood burning fires and solar panels, offering a holistic eco-friendly experience.
The expert take
Linda Clark from Glamping.com recognises the responsibility glamping resorts have to protect rural environments, and believes that glamping holidays offer a gateway to some of the world’s most amazing natural locations.
Linda said: "Travellers are drawn to nature in different ways, and glamping encapsulates this freedom to reconnect with the environment around us. From glamping sites near oceans, rivers and rainforests to those situated near ancient caves; it is such an exciting time to be a glamper, as there are spectacular natural elements to enjoy all over the world. Eco tourism is all about protecting the world we travel in as much as possible, and glamping is one of the holiday options which is most conscientious in relation to our surroundings."
Find your ‘natural habitat’
Set in 22 stunning acres of countryside in the Shropshire Hills, Love2Stay is an eco-conscious glamping resort with an chemical-free swimming pool and children’s natural play adventure zone.