Tourism industry is developing fast. Travel, is becoming more affordable (e.g. with low cost airline companies and the new image of hostels), and as a consequence there is more people moving around to new places. Even if you are visiting a town only for a couple of hours, you will still have some impact on the place: its natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems. Therefore, the need for a more sustainable planning and management is imperative.
What is Sustainable Tourism?
“A sustainable approach to tourism means that neither the natural environment nor the socio-cultural fabric of the host communities will be impaired by the arrival of tourists. On the contrary, the natural environment and the local communities should benefit from tourism, both economically and culturally. Sustainability implies that tourism resources and attractions should be utilised in such a way that their subsequent use by future generations is not compromised.”
Source: World Tourism Organisation (2000) Report of Multistakeholder Working Group on Tourism.
Some Tips to be a Sustainable Traveller
Sustainable travel practices, can generally strive to benefit the environment and the social and economic well-being of the local people and it is not difficult nor more expensive! It is all about making conscious choices that help to mitigate the negative impacts we create when we travel.
These are 6 simple changes you can start making on your next travel!
1. Book direct flights
Sometimes directs flights can be more expensive, but always take in mind that are take-offs and landings that create most of an airplane’s carbon emissions. If you just do not have that option, look up for alternatives. Can you catch a bus or a train instead of a second flight?
2. In the hotel act like in your own home
When at home, we do not change our towels every single day, but for some reason that is a normal habit in most hotels. This may not seem very significant, but it is a big waste of energy and water. A simple gesture of hanging up your towels after each use will pass the information that you would like to use them again. Likewise, you also do not vacuum nor change our linens at house on a daily basis. If you leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door of your room for the duration of your stay, you will avoid the daily cleaning and that will cut down on chemical cleansing agents, electricity used in vacuuming, and the washing of bed linens.
3. Means of transportation
This one is far more obvious, but is never too much to stress out how important it is to choose to walk, bike, or use public transportation to get around instead of car. If you rent a car, opt for models that have smaller gas consumptions like hybrids.
4. Never feed or touch wildlife
When going on natural trails or visiting natural parks, respect the wild animals. It may be tempting to give some bread to attract birds or catch a chameleon to take a picture, but that is wrong! Wild animals are not used to people and any attempt to interact will make them scared and stressed. On the other way, constant feeding can make them used to humans, changing their habits and trigger behaviours that will endanger both animals and humans.
5. Buy local products
Local products are the best souvenirs. They are unique and characteristic of the destination and value those products will help the destination to keep its identity. Local economy also benefits from your purchase. Every time you shop on a local store instead of buying a last minute fridge magnet at the airport, you are empowering local businesses. In addition, if you buy locally made products, rather than those that have been imported, you are reducing your carbon footprint (there are no shipping cost and emissions).
6. Tour operators
Today, there are so many choices when it comes to travel agencies or tour operators. For a “greener” travel, you can look up if the tour operator is giving back to the local community. Some question you can ask or look up for are: Do they lease the land from locals? Do they hire local guides? Do they take action in preserving the area’s natural resources? Do not forget that local communities are part of the destination and for a sustainable travel you must consider what’s best for them as well.