Getting out of your local area to visit a new space can be refreshing and eye-opening. Tourism is an industry that creates jobs, preserves monuments, and showcases cultures. But the industrialization of tourism has come at a cost, particularly to the environment.
Tourism can be detrimental when the visitor-level activity is more than the environment’s ability to cope or recover. Uncontrolled tourism can negatively impact the environment through soil erosion, increased pollution, animal habitat loss, put endangered species at risk, and increase the risk of forest fires. Uncontrolled tourism can also strain water resources and compete with the local population for resources.
As consumers, businesses, and governments worldwide worry over climate change; the tourism industry has come under the spotlight as a contributor. Governments are installing regulations such as visa restrictions, movement, or practices to limit emissions and harm the environment. Consumers are adopting sustainable tourism practices to contribute towards a greener tourism industry. Sustainable travel encapsulates practices that have a net positive effect on the environmental, social, and economic aspects of a location.
There are big and small changes that you can make to travel sustainably. Your efforts will add to the larger drive to create sustainable industries.
- Support Local Businesses
Tourism should benefit the local economy. Due to the popularity of destination travel, the industry has international firms present in multiple markets. Sometimes that leads to profits being expatriated without fully benefiting the local economy.
There are numerous benefits to your money circulating among local businesses. It stimulates the economy and creates sustainable jobs for the populace. Using local companies that sell local products not only circulates your money in the host economy but it reduces the carbon footprint of the products you use.
Local products don’t have to be shipped from across the world; they travel shorter distances to get to you and have a lower carbon footprint. You can use local guides to find the businesses to support, such as the Oakland neighborhood culture guide.
- Travel Green
Fossil fuels are the most significant contributors to pollution and greenhouse emissions. Some major cities worldwide suffer from smog and acid rain due to fossil fuels. Local governments are actively pursuing regulations that will reduce emissions, but you can also play your part.
You may use cars, trains, or planes to move from location to location. The mode of transport you use will contribute to your carbon footprint. Choosing a low-emission mode of transport at every available opportunity will make your trip greener.
You can use a sustainable tour operator as you book your travel plans. They will use service providers with proven green track records and who make positive contributions to the host community
- Take the Shortest Flight Path
Within the tourism industry, airlines are some of the biggest polluters. The fuel a plane uses to lift its heavy body, passengers quickly, and cargo over large areas is substantive. So the shorter your flight, the less fuel you will use to get to your destination.
Furthermore, some airlines use biofuels rather than fossil fuels. Biofuels use organic materials like plant oils, agricultural waste, and wood chips. Biofuels emit up to 80 percent fewer emissions than fossil fuels. Airlines such as KLM, Lufthansa, and American Airlines use biofuels for short and long flights. Additionally, some airlines have carbon offsetting programs. So pick an airline that will have a lower carbon footprint.
- Walk First
Walking isn’t just healthy for you and the environment, but you can take in the sights at leisure. For short trips, you can walk to your destination. If your distance is a bit longer or you need to get there quickly, you can use a bicycle. If you need to use a car, you may find car rental companies that provide you with electric or hybrid vehicles.
- Pack Reusable
You will need a few accessories on your trip. Switch to reusable products so that you lower your waste. You can use reusable cups, dishware, or water bottles.
Plastic is a material that doesn’t decompose naturally. Plastic waste is detrimental to environments, especially those with an effective recycling program. Discarded plastics are causing havoc in waterways, oceans, and beaches. Not only do they ruin the aesthetic of the environment, but they are a danger to the animals that get caught in them or digest them.
- Avoid Tourist Traps
When you think of tourism, vacation, or getaway, famous cities and towns come to mind. The massive influx of tourists to famous destinations creates a lot of traffic that can affect the quality of life for locals and the environment. Within that area, some monuments and activities have infamy. While your heart may be set on that package, try to avoid it if you can. You can try other activities within the location or visit an adjacent area, if not a completely different one.
Turn your visit into a positive experience for yourself and the local environment. Do your best to reduce your carbon footprint and make the destination available for the future. Your efforts will become part of a bigger movement for sustainable travel.