Travel is one of the world's biggest industries. And this durable economic sector is constantly growing at a pretty rapid pace. With all this growth comes concern about tourism's impact on local economies, cultures and the
Travel is one of the world’s biggest industries. And this durable economic sector is constantly growing at a pretty rapid pace. With all this growth comes concern about tourism’s impact on local economies, cultures and the fragile environment. This is why we need to make travel more sustainable.
Ok, but what is ‘sustainable travel’ anyway? Here’s the definition:
“Sustainable Tourism – tourism and associated infrastructures that: operate within capacities for the regeneration and future productivity of natural resources, recognise the contribution of local people and their cultures, accept that these people must have an equitable share in the economic benefits of tourism, and are guided by the wishes of local people and communities in the destination areas.”
Definition seems easy but the implementation within the travel industry is definiately not. It is hard but slowly we’re getting there. Consumers are showing much more interest in tourism products and services that protect the environment and respect local cultures. And the encouraging thing is that sustainable tourism is becoming more widely accepted. Soon it will go from being alternative to mainstream.
This responsible travel is moving beyond the confines of ecotravel and other green offerings. A key aspect of sustainable travel is to choose holiday destination, accommodation and on-site activities wisely. Nowadays authentic travelers simply seek out nature and culture based experiences, such as visiting cultural and historical sites or national parks. Increasingly consumers look for less conspicuous getaway choices and seeking out simpler, more ethical and authentic experiences that are far removed from their hectic daily lives. Trips with locals and agriculture stays plus volunteering opportunities are all new forms of traveling that make tourism more sustainable. Individually, each one of these travel choices makes only a small difference. But collectively, becoming a more conscious society about how to make travel sustainable can have a huge impact.
So how can we do it? First of all start with choosing your next destination wisely. Look for boutique destinations. When you travel try to maximize the benefits to local communities, minimize negative social or environmental impacts, and help local people conserve fragile cultures and habitats or species. Embrace what locals have to offer. Whether its local cuisine or locally made souvenirs. Look for indigenous artisans. Travel with small group tour operators and look for local guides. Honor local customs and learn about regional traditions to travel in a culturally-aware fashion. These are just a few, but there is always more you can do to create a more sustainable future for all of us.