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 10 simple changes you can start making on your next travel!
1. Avoid high season
By travelling out of high season, you will be helping to ensure that the place in question is not overcrowded and that its resources can be better managed.
Seasonality deeply affects the local population’s daily lives, by traffic and crowds. But mainly because high seasonality rates mean poor job conditions, pressure on the resources and low life quality for local populations.
2. Book direct flights
It is take-offs and landings that create most of an airplane’s carbon emissions.
3. Travel with a reusable and sustainable kit
Take with you a reusable kit – reusable bottle and reusable containers. You will reduce drastically the use of plastic during your travels. You can pass the security with the empty bottle and refill it inside the airport.
Other examples of eco-friendly reusable items are bamboo toothbrushes, reusable sandwiches bags and bamboo cutleries. This kit can also be used in your daily life.
4. In the hotel use the “Do not disturb” sign
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.
5. 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. If you rent a car, opt for models that have lower gas consumptions like hybrids.
6. Get involved in the local culture
Try to act like a local and respect the cultural and gastronomic traditions of the place where you are. Find out about local costumes and learn some basics of the language. This will help you integrate better, special if you will visit a very different culture.
7. Never feed or touch wildlife
When going on natural trails or visiting natural parks, respect the wildlife. Wild animals are not used to people and any attempt to interact will make them scared and stressed. On the other hand, constant feeding can make them used to humans, changing their habits and trigger behaviours that will endanger both animals and humans.
8. Buy local products
Local products are the best souvenirs. They are unique and characteristic of the destination. Value those products that will help the destination to keep its identity. The local economy also benefits from your purchase. In addition, if you buy locally made products you are reducing your carbon footprint (there are no shipping costs and emission).
9. 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 questions 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?
10. Share your experience & Give feedback
It is extremely important to share ecotourism experiences (positive or negative) with friends, family and others in your network. Your experience will help others to make more informed decisions and will help ecotourism and sustainable businesses to grow.
Take your time to make an online review of the companies you used.