Many people like categories, and without a doubt, consumers love labels. To this end, the tourism industry has generated an evolving list of buzzwords to distance the niche of travel in which we operate from mass tourism. When we say mass tourism, think large, mostly indistinguishable hotels, golf courses in deserts, oceanfront swimming pools with swim-up bars, high environmental impact and vertical value chains. Mexico has spent decades and billions of dollars on mass tourism destinations as a development strategy.
For a while, any travel remotely related to nature was painted with the “green” brush, or the ubiquitous “eco” label. Then came “sustainable” and “responsible.” In all transparency, we wouldn’t be doing this article justice if we didn’t mention that RED Travel México was originally named RED Sustainable Travel, so, put us in the guilty camp. We reached a point where we felt that these words were prostituting the concepts they sought to represent, concepts that make up the core of RED’s ethos since its inception. These are our original objectives, to use tourism as a platform to:
1) generate dignified, non-extractive employment opportunities;
2) create benefits for species and habitat conservation;
3) promote tourism models throughout Mexico that support 1) and 2).
To learn more about the work performed by our nonprofit arm towards these objectives, click here.
So we changed our name to RED Travel México, feeling that “México” is a far more evocative and inspirational word than “Sustainable”. Our actions as a hybrid business would define and differentiate us. And they did and continue to do so. We have just never done a bang-up job of telling our own story. This is our effort to do just that. Fast forward to 2019 (the present) and “regenerative” is the new concept. Regenerative development, regenerative tourism, regenerative travel, design, agriculture, medicine – a quick internet search can take you down a regenerative rabbit hole. We see the trend towards using “regenerative” as a logical reaction to “sustainable.” Whereas sustainable efforts keep things the way they are, regenerative efforts seek designs that make things better. Is this semantics? Yes. Is how one defines “better” a crucial part of the word’s definition? Absolutely. Is regenerative a label that has become a buzzword? Most definitely. Have we drunk the Kool-Aid? Apparently – the legal name of our business is Desarrollo Regenerativo CPLN (you’ll have to ask us what CPLN stand for). Is RED Travel better than other businesses in our field? That’s not the question we are asking. Rather, we think the context of regeneration is a fitting one to tell our story. As one friend involved in Mexico’s regenesis movement told us, “I think I understand it as a concept, but I can’t put it into words.” This is precisely the problem with complex concepts that get reduced to buzzwords. Through this Regenerative Travel blog series, we will attempt to tell our story through the stories of people who are our partners on this journey, and whom you may encounter on a RED Travel México experience. Stay tuned for Part 2. And in the meantime, enjoy one man’s story of regenesis.