Travel to explore the unseen part of the world. Every year in January, in the city of Utrecht, the so-called Vakantiebeurs (tourism fair) takes place at the Jaarbeurs. This fair is great for travel enthusiasts because it gives you travel ideas and facts about where and how to go. Students, families, couples and singles can be part of it to book a trip, expand their insights on places to go, and the different tourism companies from all over the world that can host them and overall enjoy a ‘travel the world in one day’ experience in one place.
Travel Companies at the Vakantiebeurs
Usually, it happens for four days, as it did in 2023, from Thursday to Sunday. Hundreds of travel organizations, including from Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and more, were ready behind their booths for visitors to answer any and all questions about their travel services. These companies varied in size; some very well-known big organizations were represented, offering packaged tours to famous places alongside (much) smaller companies that offer extraordinary destinations, focus on community-based tourism and travel in small groups. Some of these smaller Dutch travel companies are united in the Dutch Association for Small Travel Organisations (VVvK), of which PIT is also a member since 2022.
As for PIT, we were there for the very first time, introducing our company and our vision to guests and connecting to potential local partners from around the world, such as Adventures with Colby, Baltic Nature Travel, Epirus Traveller and Bharte Reizen.
The Mission and Vision of PIT
To remind you, Positive Impact Tourism (PIT) aims to offer what we call ‘positive impact experiences’ by combining the more regular tourist activities seamlessly with doing some hands-on good for the local communities and/or nature that you visit. For instance, as a traveller, you can cook for the local community, plant trees or perhaps clean the beach together. By doing positive impact activities while you are enjoying your holidays, you will leave behind a positive footprint and travel more genuinely and engaged, making a deeper connection to the people you meet and the natural environment you are interacting with.
It is our aim to become a community of like-minded travellers who will make the world a little better every time they go on a holiday, participate in teambuilding activities or take their visiting friends and family on trips in their digital nomad life. Even if every single person would just do some good for only two hours during their off vacations, the world would look so much brighter. And we are here to facilitate you.
Sustainability and Responsible Tourism Insights
The Vakantiebeurs also featured a plethora of presentations and activities to gain insight into the importance of sustainable travel and how travellers can ‘greenify their footprint’. Not only that, but organizations nowadays are working on setting tourism standards to protect the world from pollution, vandalism and harmful actions that might not seem so harmful at first. We all need to realize that what we choose to put out money to influences the supply. For instance, if we all want to go on elephant rides, that is what host countries will offer. The positive flip side of this is that when we do not pay to go on elephant rides but instead pay to see proper rescue and rehabilitation and the natural environment is protected, this is what host countries will start to supply. Standards add a top-down systemic and sustainable approach to this development.
Experts are increasingly sharing knowledge on how not negatively to influence or how to impact the destination we visit positively. There is an increasing number of eco-friendly hotels and tour operators that find ways to support local groups. One example is Adventures with Colby. This Malawi-based tour operator has empowered local communities to set the terms for tourism in their region and to develop their own community-run campsites that respect, preserve and restore traditional ways of life. We love this grassroots approach, and that, in our opinion, should be the way it works in all parts of the world. By specifically choosing this kind of local tourism management, we as travellers can support the change that is needed in the tourism industry –> from the perspective of the traveller as being the consumer and local communities as being suppliers of products, to the perspective of the traveller being a guest and local communities being hosts so there is equality in interaction and both parties benefit in a more profound way.
For families, couples and groups of friends, the Vakantiebeurs presents an opportunity to come across different cultures and destinations, book their next vacations or get inspired for vacations in future years and learn about new developments within the tourism industry. It is also an opportunity for visitors to make their wishes known to the travel companies represented. Together, we can improve the way we travel and how holidays affect people and nature around the world.
This year, the Vakantiebeurs also had a special ‘sustainability route’ so visitors could more easily discern between the tour operators offering sustainable travel and those that do not. Another step in the right direction.
If you missed the travel fair this year, make sure to mark your calendar for the one in 2024. It is an appealing way to see more of the world, discover destinations you have not yet thought about and get to meet tour operators who offer a wide variety of tours, whether off the beaten track or, for instance, wheelchair friendly, as Bharte Reizen provides.
Whatever your preference, the Vakantiebeurs have it all. And hopefully, in January 2024, we as PIT will be able to be there again, ready to meet new guests and local partners.