“Sustainable travel” may seem like just another buzz phrase in the tourism industry; right up there with “staycation” and “glamping.” But the truth is that sustainable tourism is not just a fad – sustainable, responsible, and eco-friendly travel have been growing trends for decades, and have recently become a focus for many travel brands and a passion for many travelers.
Sustainable travel essentially means travel that leaves a positive impact instead of a negative one. This applies to the economy, the natural environment, and the socio-cultural aspects of a destination – meaning that sustainable tourism goes far beyond just being “green.”
But what does this mean for you as a traveler? If you're concerned with the impact you're leaving on a destination, how can you be sure your travels are as sustainable as possible?
Well here are a few things you can do to make your next trip more sustainable:
The economic impact of tourism is hugely important for most destinations, and it's also the aspect of travel that can either make locals love or hate their foreign visitors. In order to leave a more positive economic impact, go local whenever possible. This means staying at locally-owned hotels and guesthouses instead of large international chains, eating at locally-owned restaurants or places that source their ingredients from local farms, and booking tours with operators who employ the local as guides.
Not only will you get to know the locals better by doing all of these things, but you'll also ensure that your tourism dollars are directly impacting and helping the people who call a place home.
Reward responsible travel pledges
If you're going to be booking a tour – whether just a day trip or a multi-day adventure – pay attention to the mission statements and pledges of the companies you're considering. If a company is truly dedicated to being sustainable, you should be able to tell by their actions and initiatives. Look for companies that do things like describe sustainable/responsible tourism on their websites, hire local guides, give back to local communities, offset their carbon footprint, support reforestation or other environmental initiatives, and legitimately take steps to ensure that they are leaving a positive footprint on the world.
“Greenwashing” is a big problem in tourism. This is basically when a business claims to be eco-friendly, but can't actually back that claim up. If you want to stay at a truly “green” hotel or guesthouse, look for ones that do things like encourage guests to reuse towels to save water, provide eco-friendly bath products, have rooftop gardens, participate in recycling programs, and utilize solar or hydro power.
Reduce your carbon footprint
When you travel frequently by plane, train, or car, you're contributing to a carbon footprint, or a certain amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere (which is not good for the environment). The easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint naturally include flying less, using public transport more, and utilizing bikes and your own two feet to get around.
But when flying and driving are your only options, there are other things you can do to help the environment. Certain travel companies give you the option to pay a little extra for your tour in order to offset your carbon footprint, and sites like TerraPass can help you calculate your carbon footprint and make carbon offset donations.
By keeping these tips in mind when planning your next trip, you'll be well on your way to becoming a more sustainable traveler.
*All content provided in this blog is supplied by Amanda Williams and is for informational purposes only. Barclaycard makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.
Photo credit: Amanda Williams
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