The growth, learning and experience driven by travel is powerful, and why the travel industry is one of the world’s most important, supplying 10 percent of the world’s jobs.
But the strains exerted on these destinations and our environment are endless. Responsible tourism can act as a vehicle for positive change.
The three pillars of sustainable tourism are employing environmentally friendly practices (reduce, reuse, recycle); protecting cultural and natural heritage (restoring historic buildings or saving endangered species); and providing tangible social and economic benefits for local communities (ranging from upholding the rights of indigenous peoples to supporting fair wages for employees).
Everyone can do their bit to help reduce the impact on the planet and still travel the world. Here are our top tips to incorporate into your next travels.
(Hero photo by Josh Hild)
Travel off peak
Overtourism is straining infrastructure and pricing locals out of communities, from beaches to natural wonders so on your next trip, consider the road less travelled. Or even just moving slightly beyond the tourist hotspots. The benefits are endless with far fewer people, and the money you spend will help businesses that can struggle outside peak season.
Buy and use local produce
Help give back to that local community and support their growth and jobs instead of imported products. Travellers should be mindful of where and how they are spending their money. Support local businesses which employ locals, including local markets, dining in local restaurants, souvenirs from local artisans.
Further, it helps to preserve local craft traditions and cultural heritage. You’ll have a more authentic experience, too.
Explore by foot
The best way to really get to know a place is by putting on your comfortable shoes and getting walking. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the destinations much more, learn about the new cultures, even explore the local businesses, by foot. Where possible, use public transport.
Pick your accommodation wisely
Hotels and resorts are slowly opening their eyes to eco-conscious practises, and its up to us as guests to be wary of re-using towels, not throwing away semi-used hotel amenities, carrying around reusable water bottles and so much more.
There are CO2-neutral stays on offer in places like The Brando in Tahiti, or Arthur Hotels, which was the world’s first carbon-neutral hotel group, Angama Mara in Kenya which follows a strict plastic-free policy and EDITION Hotels who recently launched the “Stay Plastic Free” campaign to remove single use plastics from the hospitality industry. If
Never buy wildlife products—fullstop.
It’s easy to go on an adventure or culture-immersed getaway and find yourself spending time haggling with locals selling souvenirs, buying parts from endangered animals, which will drive illegal trafficking and poaching. Though prized for their natural beauty, some decorative items made from wildlife products have been caught illegally—and you might be complicit.
Just say no.
Pack a solar charger
Not only is a solar charger a great piece of hardware to have in a bind, it’s a great way to use a little less energy when travelling. Place it in a sunny spot and charge up your gadgets when you’re out and about.
Only participate in responsible wildlife tourism
When it comes to viewing and interacting with animals, don’t engage in tourism attractions that cause animal harm, watching dancing monkeys and elephant rides. Be sure to visit only attractions that do not capture animals from the wild and provide healthy and adequate living conditions. When out and about, keep your hands to yourself and don’t feed or touch animals as it can alter their natural behaviour.
Leave a place better than you found it. Pick companies and adventures and hotels that work with their local community to support their growth. There are endless opportunities where travellers can find out ways to support. Do your bit, it all helps.