by Jackie Edwards, editor, researcher and writer
Sustainable Tourism: Ways Your Trip Can Have a Positive Impact
When we go on holiday to a new place, it is increasingly important to us to learn as much as we can about the local atmosphere and culture. Often, the best part of the trip is when we are able to interact with the people and place in an authentic way.
As the world around us is affected by climate change and transitioning environments, our efforts to travel in a sustainable way become more crucial to the conservation of the beautiful wildlife and sights we encounter. By incorporating sustainability on our holidays, we can do our part in making a positive, ethical impact on local environments and communities.
Impacts of Tourism on the Environment
Unfortunately, as traveling is made easier and more countries develop tourism industries, the environment usually takes a toll. Increasing the need for resources, the consumption percentages of local products and produce, and the use of public transportation often leads to pollution and negative impacts on the ecosystem. Research in sustainable tourism has shown that many places are not equipped to efficiently conserve the environment while maintaining the influx of travelers. For example, the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, where water is scarce, uses 12 million litres of water per year. In the Caribbean, where tourists love to snorkel and scuba-dive, around two-thirds of coral reefs are in danger. These facts should be frightening to us; our trips, while seemingly fun for the whole family, may be damaging the world that contains our fondest holiday memories.
Steps You Can Take to Further Sustainability
The facts of the changing environment should be kept in mind when planning your next holiday, and thankfully there are a number of solutions for a sustainable trip.
The best way to further your sustainable efforts is to begin at home. Teaching conservation to your family while at home and on holiday will spawn the next generation of sustainable travelers. By playing simple environmental games, like I-Spy to learn about new species on your trip, or trash pick-up on the beach, you can inspire your children to maintain a healthy environment. Also, it’s great fun for the whole family to keep a list or tally of all the new animals you may encounter on holiday. Your children will be the first ones to the beach in the morning, looking for tiny crabs and seagulls to add to the list.
In addition to sharing sustainable knowledge with the family, it is important to make sure that your holiday is planned with the environment in mind, in terms of the residence you book, the activities you organize, and the items you pack. Avoiding all-inclusive resorts and restaurants that don’t use sustainable animal products are small ways you can positively impact the environment. Also, spend an afternoon volunteering in a beach clean-up or at the community park instead of going on a boat tour or shopping. This will teach your family the importance of sustainability in every new environment you encounter together.
Sustainable tourism is increasingly important in our world of shifting climates. Knowing the small steps you and your family can take while on holiday will leave a great impact in the long run, helping both the local community and conservation efforts worldwide.
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