WWF’s Sustainable Travel Alliance Summit in Beijing 

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WildChina’s leisure department manager, Jenny Zhao, was invited to speak at the annual Sustainable Travel Alliance summit organized by the WWF in Beijing.  

Held on Earth Day (April 22), this notable event celebrated its third anniversary and brought together more than 60 representatives from various sectors. The focal point of the summit centered on the need to reduce the negative effects of tourism and wildlife preservation. 

As global tourism gradually recovers, it has become crucial to reevaluate the relationship between humans and nature. 

Jenny shared the business approach and sustainability practices that WildChina has been applying from day one, “Our mission is to create life changing experiences for our travelers. But if a travel experience destroys the natural environment and our heritage, then no matter how appealing it may seem to a prospective traveler, it absolutely must be redesigned in a more sustainable way.”  At the core of WildChina’s philosophy lies a human-centered design approach that goes beyond the narrow focus of humans, embracing the needs and promoting the harmonious coexistence of all life forms, “We must realize we are part of a complex system, and what we do here can impact people across the world long into the future.”

WWF’s Sustainable Travel Alliance Summit in Beijing 

Jenny also shed light on the significance of integrating circular economy principles as a crucial step towards achieving sustainability, “There’s very little waste in nature because almost everything reconstitutes itself as useful. An orange is a great example, it has this wonderful protective package, it’s not made of plastic, it’s an organic material. I can remove it and eat the orange and then throw away the “package,” because when it goes in the ground, it decomposes and adds fertilizer to the ground. That’s how nature reuses everything, and that’s how sustainable travel should work as well.” By applying the circular economy approach, we can create a future where resources are maximized, and environmental impact is minimized.  

Jenny went on to emphasize the need for a paradigm shift in the tourism industry, where long-term perspectives prevail over short-term profit at any cost. The responsible practices that preserve and protect our natural and cultural heritage should be among the top priorities.

She used WildChina’s initiative to revive the rural Zhejiang village of Songyang into a sustainable and eco-tourism friendly destination as a remarkable example of sustainability principles in action. The initiative involved the transformation of a traditional folk house into a modern café and studio space, blending the building’s original charm with contemporary functionality. The design approach centered around minimal intervention, utilizing sustainable organic wood materials and time-honored techniques. The Songyang project showcases how a sustainable approach can effectively preserve cultural heritage, support the local community, and minimize the ecological footprint.

The main takeaway: the importance of sustainability in the tourism industry is paramount. There is an urgent need for a profound transformation in the business approach of travel companies. This entails the development of new business models and industry standards that promote sustainability as a shared responsibility. By establishing regulations that require all companies to prioritize sustainability, we can ensure a level playing field where no company is at a disadvantage for being “a good citizen”. This collective effort will drive the entire tourism industry forward, fostering a positive and enduring impact on the world.

WildChina is committed to the belief that true success extends beyond meeting the needs of our customers, it encompasses the preservation of our planet and the safeguarding of China’s rich cultural heritage. We believe that by prioritizing sustainability, we can create meaningful and lasting experiences that benefit both our travelers and the world we all share.