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Tourism is one of the worlds fastest growing industries and is a major source of income for many countries. As the industry continues expanding, so will its impact on the environment. Obviously, the environment is important to tourism – without a place, tourism would not exist duuhh.
I can not express the importance of understanding how the world works and how to help it. Environmental stability can no longer be taken for granted, fortunately, the natural world is resilient, great riches still remain, its just a matter of how long for.
With globalisation at its high, a lot more people travel more than ever. The average holidaymaker often participates in mass tourism (packages, beach parties etc) which essentially goes against sustainable tourism. The industry itself primarily focuses on generating income, thus, it does not prioritise natural resources, local traditions etc. A lot of the money generated through mass tourism. Sustainable Tourism is “Tourism that respects both local and the traveller’, cultural heritage and the environment.” – A lot of people tend to pair sustainability with being ‘eco-friendly’ which isn’t a bad start because being environmentally friendly is a big part of being sustainable
We all love a good trip until we can’t go because we aren’t the best at preserving both the natural and built environment. The more we consume the more we demand – a vicious cycle, we have an impact collectively. Being a people-oriented industry, tourism also provides many jobs which have helped revitalise a lot of local economies, look at Bangkok.
In addition, the effects of climate change are putting the worlds most-visited destinations at risk, as the industry expands so will its impact on the environment. While the industry will never be fully sustainable there are things we can do to preserve the planet when we globe-trot, with our help the planet can recover. To be sustainable tourists shouldn’t have to cost you more money.
How to be a sustainable tourist:
First of all ditch the all-inclusive hotels and start choosing destinations that value sustainability. As holidaymakers/travellers, we need to support local economies and opt for sustainable activities; we need to be mindful of where we spend our money and ensure it benefits and goes to the local community. Due to economic leakage and human rights violations, we need to make sure to support businesses that employ locals; this can be done by simply eating locally, visiting local markets, and generally buy products/services locally. Plastic bags are not easily decomposed and contribute greatly to the degradation of the environment.
- Air quality is the leading threat to the environment, we ought to reconsider how we fly, the only viable way we can offset our carbon footprint is by flying direct where possible, selecting eco-friendly airlines such as KLM; essentially carriers that use sustainable aviation biofuel. If you’re travelling domestically, use trains where possible. Trains have actually been proven to use 10x fewer carbon emissions as opposed to airlines
- Additionally, to reduce energy and water consumption may be cut down the number of showers we have abroad. We do not need to take 5 showers just because we are in a different country; also reuse towels, and switch off energy-consuming products when they are not necessary and when they are not in use.