As we conclude the season of giving and thanks and begin a new year, I feel particularly blessed by the gift of travel. I also feel blessed for being able to offer that gift to so many others. I am especially grateful to our enthusiastic clients, our conscientious tour directors, our worldwide partners, and my amazing colleagues for making this possible.
Travel allows us to feel connected with people and their environment in distant parts of the world., And sometimes to find ourselves with a first-hand view of history as it’s unfolding.
Some events are political, such as when a group of us toured Hong Kong on the second weekend of protests that continue more than six months later. Hearing about clashes at the Mongkok and Prince Edward subway stations brings memories of strolling between these stations to visit the Flower and Bird Markets on a much calmer sunny Sunday afternoon.
Other events show evidence of long-term changes impacting our natural environment. Travelers on recent tours have seen first-hand how local residents are adapting to rising sea levels in communities from Venice to Scotland to Alaska; to melting glaciers in New Zealand, Chile, Iceland, Glacier National Park, and even Antarctica; and to bush fires in Australia. In Africa, our clients have witnessed the effects of drought in Namibia and South Africa, and of flooding on wildlife habitat near riverside safari camps in Kenya.
Once back home, even years after a trip, reports about such events are not just abstract news to a traveler – they are very personal when you have been to that location or to somewhere like it. We may not know the individuals who are affected today. But we have met their neighbors and we can picture the landscape around them. Through them we know the place.
Travel allows us to draw evidence-based conclusions by seeing how political and climate changes are affecting real people and the environment around them. We can also get a better sense of what steps are appropriate to address these changes.
As we Americans begin a presidential election year, we can better evaluate candidate statements about their goals for our relationships with other countries and about climate change. Our conclusions will be informed by our own experiences, rather than just by listening to what is said by people running for office or the media.
Several of our HE Travel tours provide a first-hand perspective about changes happening in specific regions of our planet. Over the next year, through our blogs, photo/video galleries and other presentations we look forward to sharing the insights of our staff and travelers about changes happening around the world.
Thank you for your love of travel, and for your contributions to making our world a safer, more sustainable place for the long term.