In recent years, destinations have taken steps towards reducing the negative impact of unsustainable tourist. Dubrovnik banned the sale of reef-toxic sunscreens in Hawaii; Palau protected 80% its waters; Barcelona clamped down on illegal vacation rental. Travel can make the world a better one. There’s no better time than now to make changes in our travel habits, and to think differently about the past.
What’s sustainable tourism?
Before we can move forward, it is crucial to understand sustainable travel. Sustainability is often referred to as reducing our environmental footprint. However, it is much more than that. Contrary to popular belief, sustainable travel does not just protect the environment, but also considers the impact of tourism on people, cultures and economies. To describe sustainable tourism, you might also use other buzzwords such as “ecotourism”,’regenerative tourism”, ‘community-based tourism’, ethical tourism” and nature-tourism”. They are more specific and focus on a narrower range of applications and aspects. Regenerative tourism, however, is more focused on improving the environment and fixing any damage. For example, ecotourism focuses on responsible travel to natural places.
How can you travel more sustainably
Understanding sustainable travel is one thing, but putting it into practice is quite another.
1. Stay off the beaten path
Before the pandemic, many destinations were literally loved to death. Avoid over tourism and avoid being a tourist trapper. It can take hours to wait in line, only for the destination to be different from what you saw online. Reality vs. Expectation: While Instagram photos often portray the Taj Mahal in serene and tranquil settings, it is actually crowded with tourists trying to capture the same shot. It’s possible to have a unique and authentic experience in small towns and rural areas. Explore smaller towns and rural areas instead.
2. Take a minute to relax
It’s easy to become distracted when trying to fit everything into one trip. Allow yourself to spend more time exploring the destination. Instead of moving around, choose one long vacation. Slowing down will allow you to really experience the place. This will enable you to truly experience the local charms. A cooking class with a local host can be a wonderful (and delicious!) way to learn. It is a great way to get to know the local food culture. Spending more time in a place leads to memorable and meaningful travel experiences. Slower travel is better for the planet because it reduces carbon emissions as you drive or fly between destinations.
3. Utilize efficient transportation methods
Slower travel can help reduce carbon emissions. This is a major threat to tourism, the environment and humanity’s future. Tourism’s carbon footprint is dominated by driving, air travel, and other modes. All modes of transport use energy. However, there are some that are more efficient and cleaner than others. Planes and cars are the most efficient means of transport. You can also rent a car with an electric, hybrid, or smaller vehicle. Train travel is a great way reduce your carbon footprint and to see small towns and beautiful landscapes. It is important to remember that transport’s carbon footprint will depend on how it is used. There is no one way to travel. Every destination has its own sustainable options. Washington D.C. has zero emission buses. Many of Thailand’s most famous tuk-tuks are now electric.
4. Conserve water, energy
Tourism depends on electricity for lighting and heating. As global temperatures rise, so will the demand for water. You can conserve water and energy on vacation by using a shower instead of a bath. Handwash your clothes, and don’t disturb the sign. Choosing low-impact accommodation will help you reduce your carbon footprint.
5. Reduce your carbon footprint
Carbon offsets can be used to reduce your carbon footprint. You can use an online carbon calculator to calculate your carbon footprint. You can then purchase offsets equaling the amount of carbon you have produced. These offsets can also create jobs, improve sanitation, or conserve endangered species.
6. Keep your dollars local
Many communities have suffered from a lack of tourism. Help them rebound by making sure your dollars stay in their local economy.
It is acceptable to haggle in many cultures. Be fair and don’t overpay. You can also learn new skills from local experts by signing up for a weaving workshop or surfing lessons with an expert local guide. Are you interested in a nature tour? A local guide can help you plan your adventure and give you interesting facts about the wildlife. It can be tempting for beggars to offer money, but it is best to avoid this practice. Begging can often lead to human trafficking at its worst. It is possible for well-intentioned travelers to give money and gifts to perpetuate a system that keeps children out of school and forces them to the streets.
7. Respect your local communities
It’s a great way to explore other cultures, beliefs, and ways of life. Read up on the history and traditions of your destination before you go. Respect is a virtue. You should be kind and respectful to the locals. Ask permission to take their photo.
8. Avoid single-use plastics
Single-use plastic bottles are the most common items tourists use. If you’re concerned about water quality at your destination, you can add refillable toiletry containers on to your packing list. Every minute, around one million plastic bottles are bought worldwide. It is simple to bring a reusable water bottle with you on your next trip. It is possible to reduce the amount of plastic waste you produce by eating in restaurants. Plastic containers, cups and utensils are common in takeout.
9. See protected areas and parks
National parks and marine sanctuary play an important role in protecting our planet’s natural resources and biodiversity. Tourism is a major component of many African countries. The pandemic cut off this revenue stream, putting many endangered species in danger. Rising poverty has made it more difficult for local communities to sustain their income.
10. Select sustainable accommodation and operators
This is the final tip about getting businesses to adopt sustainable travel habits. Look for businesses that are environmentally friendly and have positive impacts on local communities. Many companies now embrace sustainable travel. Many companies are now embracing sustainable travel.