Travel makes us better individuals. It broadens our perspective, pushes our boundaries and allows us to experience the world through a different lens. But with great power, also comes great responsibility- which is why as a well known contributor to climate change, it is critical that the tourism industry and its clientele become more sustainable as a whole. With overtourism on the rise, it’s important to think about how you can be a responsible traveler and reduce your negative impact on the planet.
To me, sustainable tourism symbolizes traveling well. How can you do the most good, the least harm and have a memorable, transformative experience? To travel well, you have to support local communities, protect culture and heritage, and do it all with as light of an environmental footprint as possible. While it seems like a complicated process, it’s actually quite simple. A little research on which countries you decide to travel to, which accommodations you choose, where you decide to eat, how you opt to get around, and the activities you partake in (or not) will determine your impact on the destinations you visit. This website was created to shed light on how you can travel more mindfully.
Sustainable tourism is important because the alternative is unsustainable: polluted beaches full of plastic, dead coral reefs with no fish, increasing crime, unwelcoming locals or disappearing cultures and wildlife. Some areas are already suffering the consequences of unsustainable travel, such as Venice, Machu Picchu, Amsterdam, and much more. Although tourism can be a great form of wealth distribution, often as little as 5-10% of the money tourists spend remains in the destinations they visit. The jobs created for local people are usually entry level and low paying with limited opportunities for upward mobility.
Within the last few years, sustainability has become much more mainstream within the tourism industry, with increasing numbers of businesses creating environmental departments, adopting environmental and social good practices, seeking certification, and looking at ways to ‘green’ their supply chain. While this is a step in the right path, it is not enough. Like companies, travelers need to be more aware of and held accountable for their impact. All individuals have an important role to play to ensure that tourism lives up to its promise to improve people’s livelihoods and protect the environments they depend upon.