We love to travel, but we know that travelling can be very damaging to the environment. That is why it is so important to us to travel as sustainably as we can. Travelling responsibly is important as it help to protect the world's ecology, natural wonders and animals. If you enjoy travelling then you know that there are always unsustainable options available, and these options are often tempting. Whether it's cheap flights, all-day excursions or the opportunity for the perfect Instagram shot, we've all been tempted. However, we think it is important to look at the bigger picture and consider the harm that we can cause by engaging in these kinds of activities. That's why we've rounded up some of our top tips and tricks for being a more sustainable tourist...
What is sustainable tourism? To put it simply, sustainable tourism is a way of travelling that focuses on respecting the destination's environment, culture and people. For a lot of us, we see travelling as an escape which unfortunately means we often aren't as careful in our choices as we might be at home. Many mistakes tourists make are due to lack of education, such as ignoring local customs or traditions, wearing sun cream that isn't reef safe or even riding elephants at fraudulent 'sanctuaries.' The purpose of sustainable tourism is to combat these negatives by creating positive impacts instead. The Travel Foundation, an organisation that works to benefit local people and protect the environment, believes we can be sustainable tourists by:
- Preserving natural environments, wildlife and natural resources when visiting tourist activities.
- Look for attractions that are creating socio-economic benefits for communities through employment and income earning opportunities.
- Visiting authentic attractions and tourist experiences that celebrate and conserve heritage and culture.
Whilst this can all sound quite daunting at first, it really does come easily! The main things to remember and implement on your next holiday are:
- Don’t litter - if you can't find a bin then take your rubbish with you. This is especially important when on beaches as the litter with otherwise end up in the sea.
- Follow local customs and respect people's culture - if you are asked to cover your hair or arms then you should always do so. Be sure to look up any local customs before travelling so that you know what to expect.
- Choose carbon offset options at your accommodation and on flights - we recommend Ecologi or some airlines allow you to offset emissions directly through them.
- Stay at local hostels and hotels, rather than chains - this way your money is going directly into supporting a local business and will help to have a positive impact on the people who live there.
- Buy from independent local shops and markets - again, this provides financially for the people in the local area and helps to support them and their work.
- Don’t partake in any experience which harms wildlife - it’s not worth the Instagram picture. This includes any 'hand-on' animal experiences, swimming with dolphins or visiting poorly run zoos. If you want to see some wildlife, consider visiting a sanctuary.
- Do not purchase any souvenirs made from animals or scarce materials such as ivory or coral - not only is ivory illegal in a lot of countries, it is also cruel and unnecessary.