Launched in 2015, the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World is a collection of 55 world-class hotels spanning 30 countries and 6 continents that offer guests rare experiences with parts of the world that not many get to know. Each lodge is deeply rooted in its community and dedicated to protecting surrounding ecosystems and cultures—and harnesses their vitality to safeguard them for the future. On March 27, National Geographic released the first Sustainable Tourism Impact Report, compiled from data from each of the member lodges that measures the impact of their practices, from use of renewable energy to protecting endangered wildlife. The report details this impact and highlights stories about some of the innovative sustainability projects at the lodges, and serves as inspiring proof that tourism—when done thoughtfully and carefully—can be a powerful force for good in the world.
To join the Unique Lodges of the World cohort, each interested property underwent a rigorous on-site inspection by the National Geographic Sustainable Tourism team, who reviewed their operations based on the four pillars of sustainable tourism: protection of natural heritage, protection of cultural heritage, support for local communities, and environmentally friendly practices. The launch of the collection and release of the report is particularly timely, as the United Nations recently designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The UN’s goal, embedded within the universal Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, is to motivate the travel industry and bolster tourism’s role in inclusive sustainable economic growth, resource protection, cultural conservation, and conflict resolution. The Unique Lodges of the World Collection’s core mission aligns with this goal, and the report demonstrates how tangible results are already being produced.
In less than two years, lodge collection members have rehabilitated and protected over 3.7 million acres of land and sea, referred to as their collective conservation footprint. They have given over $76 million in direct contributions to historic and cultural site preservation, which lies at the heart of National Geographic’s mission to embrace and protect all aspects of heritage, from language, music, textiles, and art to landmarks, architecture, and sacred sites. Having invested over $3 million in community initiatives, the lodges support education, health, and small business development, and they are actively engaged in reducing waste, recycling materials, and cutting carbon emissions—these efforts have diverted over 3 million pounds of waste from landfills around the world.
“When travel is done the right way—the sustainable way—then local people and visitors alike benefit from the power and promise of travel to alleviate poverty, protect nature, and safeguard cultural heritage for future generations,” said National Geographic’s Costas Christ, Senior Advisor for Sustainable Tourism.