here 1 LegacyPostID: numheaderimagerows: 1 LegacyFeaturedImage:

What is Regenerative Travel?

By Matt Wastradowski

In recent years, travel and tourism have experienced explosive growth around the world. But with that onslaught of travel comes downstream effects that may not show up until after a traveler has returned home from vacation. Local businesses get crowded out by multinational conglomerates, cities lack the infrastructure to support the crush of tourists, natural spaces get trampled, and iconic sites are overrun—feeling at times more like theme parks than authentic connections to local culture.

But it doesn’t need to be this way—and nonprofits and other organizations, each invested in the developing movement of regenerative travel, are working to change that. The ultimate goal, according to advocates like the Transformational Travel Council, is for travelers to have positive impacts on the places they visit—all while enjoying authentic experiences that benefit local economies, support the environment, and improve the lives of all involved. And we at the Willamette Valley Visitors Association are excited to champion, support, and help lead those efforts.

What is regenerative travel? The concept is closely linked to sustainable travel, but there are some key differences.

If sustainable travel means leaving a destination as you found it—packing out trash on a camping trip, for instance, or taking public transit around a city to minimize carbon emissions—then regenerative travel means leaving it better than you found it. (Put another way, the concept behind regenerative travel is all there in the term "regenerative"—which means to recreate, regrow, or change for the better.)

Several nonprofit organizations and collaborative outfits (including the Transformative Travel Council) have launched in recent years to help tackle these challenging issues by showing businesses the benefits of operating with the social good in mind, demonstrating ways to offer authentic experiences, and using their platforms to promote positive change.

From there, travelers are encouraged (by nonprofits, tourism organizations, and even the businesses they visit) to be mindful and intentional about the decisions they make—and understand how that can impact a community, for better or worse. Ultimately, it’s about encouraging travelers to engage with the communities they visit in ways that make a difference—and improve the places they visit. 

Here are a few examples of real-world regenerative travel experiences (including a few you can have in the Willamette Valley):

  • Touring farms that grow crops and raise animals with forward-thinking, environmentally friendly agricultural practices

  • Taking part in volunteer activities with local nonprofits (such as Cascade Volunteers) to help communities recover from wildfire or clean debris from the Willamette River

  • Visiting regenerative-minded wineries, restaurants, and other businesses that incorporate sustainability into their sourcing, cultivation, and preparation

  • Patronizing businesses, boutiques, and markets that support local producers and artisans

Regenerative travel works to build local economies by steering visitors toward mom-and-pop outlets and locally owned businesses—where their dollars can have a greater impact on the areas they visit. With that money, communities can reinvest and create a better experience for all.

Another aspect of regenerative travel involves educating visitors on environmental concerns and inspiring them to take action. This can be as passive as staying in a lodge that plants a tree for every overnight stay—or as involved as rolling up your sleeves and helping with trail maintenance that makes the outdoors safer and more accessible.

Ultimately, regenerative travel means improving the quality of life and the broader tourism infrastructure (including hotels, tour operators, and restaurateurs) in popular communities—all so those life-changing experiences can be enjoyed for generations to come.

So now that you know more about the ideas behind regenerative travel, you might be inspired to make it part of your next trip to the Willamette Valley. So after you request a free travel guide and get inspired, here are a few ways to enjoy regenerative travel experiences in the Willamette Valley.

Hooray! Responsible wine tasting trips qualify as regenerative travel! Visit these Willamette Valley wineries that prioritize sustainability in their vineyards. Discover how they are not only producing exceptional wines, but also protecting the environment and supporting their local communities. King Estate Winery just south of Eugene, in the Oregon Coast Range foothills, is the largest Biodynamic-certified vineyard in North America. Founded in 1991, they have made sustainable agriculture the heart of its mission by banning the use of artificial pesticides and fertilizers, crafting bottles with high-tech tools that cut down on carbon emissions, and other innovative techniques.

The nonprofit Cascade Volunteers plants trees, cleans and maintains trails, surveys areas for invasive plants, and more throughout the Willamette National Forest. Cascade Volunteers is always seeking volunteers and offers a volunteer application that helps visitors figure out which opportunities might be right for them.

Just outside the community of Carlton, Tabula Rasa Farms raises grass-fed cattle, hogs, and hens—all with cutting-edge, regenerative farming practices. Grab Tabula Rasa’s meats, eggs, and other locally raised products to cook back at your campsite or in your hotel room from the Source Farms store along Oregon Route 47 near Yamhill.

In the heart of the Cascades, Westfir Lodge and Mountain Market offers comfortable overnight stays and easy access to the area’s outdoor experiences—such as world-class mountain biking, forested hot springs, and riverside hiking trails. The lodge’s owners plant one tree for every overnight stay, use produce from a nearby farm in meals served on-site, and make jam that's sold every winter from the season's harvest. Learn more about the Westfir Lodge and its commitment to regenerative travel.

regenerative experiences

In the Willamette Valley, we’re passionate about not only providing visitors with the best wine, culinary and craft brew experiences but also promoting sustainable and regenerative travel practices. We believe that travel should contribute to the well-being of both the visitors and the local community. Join us in practicing regenerative travel and explore the best of Willamette Valley while making a positive impact. Whether you’re here for a wine tour, culinary adventure or craft brew trail with regenerative stops. Together, we can make a difference and contribute to the well-being of Willamette Valley’s environment and community.

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

©2024 Willamette Valley Visitors Association

Site by Drozian Webworks