This film is a wake-up call.
We need to dramatically rethink the way we travel.
In 1950, there were 25 million international tourist arrivals. In 2020, that number was expected to be 1.6 billion. That means more people traveling than at any other point in history.
Travel is in an unfortunate state – and that’s even before COVID-19 brought it to a temporary standstill. Overtourism magnified the increasing impact on the environment, wildlife, and vulnerable populations around the world. Unintentionally, tourists have been destroying the very things they have come to see. Tourism reached a tipping point.
Yet, travel is also an opportunity. It can be leveraged as a force for good – to promote conservation, alleviate poverty, and positively transform the lives of people living in host communities, while fostering cultural connection and understanding between people from all walks of life. Tourism can spread peace and be the greatest form of wealth distribution the world has ever seen. This forced pause has presented us with the opportunity to reshape the travel industry as we know it.
This poignant film explores our ability to harness tourism’s power in a way that creates shared value for all – travelers and host communities alike – while preserving the places and natural resources we treasure most.
Change starts with us.
Author, Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism
Founder, Save Elephant Foundation
Editor at Large, National Geographic Traveler
President, Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda
Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace
CEO, National Geographic Partners
Founder, G Adventures
CEO, Destination Stewardship Centre
Founder, Sakha Cabs For Women
Editor in Chief, Travel Weekly
Director and Writer
Editor and Writer
Director of Photography
Original Score by
Anthony Fung & Anton Peterson
Sound Editor and Sound Designer
As a filmmaker, I’ve had the privilege of travelling to some of the world’s most remote, fragile, and beautiful places. These experiences have shaped me but also given me a sense of responsibility for ensuring that future generations can experience these wonders.
Over the past 2 1/2 years, this film took us on a journey to 14 different countries where we interviewed dozens of leading travel experts, tour operators, academics, as well as travellers and service workers in host communities who are leveraging tourism to improve their quality of life. In the process, we amassed nearly 400 hours of footage that was edited into a 90 minute film that pulls back the curtain and shows us the true cost of travel – on the environment, wildlife, and host communities.
The process of creating this film has been an incredible learning and growth experience. The miracle intersection of technology and modern travel allows us to book a flight with the click of a button and board a plane to virtually every corner of the globe – but isn’t without its challenges. Massive crowds of tourists are causing environmental degradation, dangerous conditions, as well as the economic impoverishment and pricing-out of locals. We need to rethink the way we travel or else our impact will be irreversible.
Despite the harsh impacts that travel can have on our planet, travel is also a force for good. It’s a universal language that connects people regardless of their age or their gender or their income or where they come from. And if we actually get out into the world and explore it, we uncover amazing things and make ourselves better people and hopefully have a positive impact too.
This filmmaking journey culminated during a global pandemic where international travel has been virtually halted. As the world slowly opens its borders again, we, as travellers, have the opportunity to be the driving force that paves a new way to travel. A more thoughtful way that protects both people and places, and secures a positive future for destinations and host communities for generations to come.