Hi, I’m Amy. From a young age, traveling has always played a central role in my life. Born and raised in California, I was fortunate enough to have beaches, mountains, and deserts easily accessible within a 2-3 hour drive. I spent a good portion of my teenage years on weekend-long roadtrips with friends in aspirations of finding lesser-known destinations and hidden gems across this beautiful state.
Having explored most of California and a few other states by the end of high school, yearned for a more global travel experience. Since 2016, I’ve traveled throughout Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Austria, Greece, Taiwan, Thailand, and Japan. Every one of these trips have enriched my life and given me a new outlook on the repercussions of tourism.
It wasn’t until I backpacked in Thailand at the beginning of 2020 that I perceived the negative effects of tourism. Phi Phi Island, Bangkok, and Phuket are bucketlist destinations for many (including my former self)- but upon arrival, I was saddened. Beaches and rivers were filled with trash, locals were left with no other choice but to scam tourists because they barely made enough to survive, natural resources were running out, animal sanctuaries that were deemed ethical were actually abusing animals when tours were over, and much more.
Phi Phi Islands is the most notable example of the negative effects of tourism. It is mostly known for being the setting of the Leonardo Dicaprio movie “The Beach”. Most people come expecting a pristine island paradise, but are often met with a rude awakening upon arrival. Although the island is beautiful, over-development has made the tropical destination difficult to enjoy. In the two decades since the movie has been released, the ecosystem and beaches physical structures have been ruined from the enormous influx of visitors. The coral reefs in Maya Bay were destroyed to a point where the Thai National Parks department had to establish a 3 year visiting ban to help the reefs recover.
Tourism has the power to uplift communities from poverty, but at the same time, it can destroy their identity. Since tourism in developing countries often focus on quantity rather than quality, the environment and citizens are the ones who are left suffering in the long-run. The next time you travel, I encourage you to stay in accommodations away from tourist zones or to at least visit local villages where most the locals reside. You’ll see first-hand how the way you travel to foreign countries (especially developing countries) often don’t help the host community at all, and can even destroy the area in the future.
Sustainable tourism is a way of traveling and exploring a destination while respecting its culture, environment, and people. Common sense says that this is simply the definition of travel — and that the term ‘sustainable’ is unnecessary. Unfortunately, most people do not travel this way.
My intention with this sustainable travel website is to educate travelers on how to spend their money mindfully so that their experiences empower locals and protect our environment. The choices of the tourists can help to preserve nature and wildlife, and on the contrary, it can put the animals into suffering and extinction. We should all travel in a way that can benefit the people and communities we’re in, and that mitigates negative impacts of travel on the environment.