With the world starting to open back up, tourists have begun making plans to do something they’ve largely been unable to do for more than a year: travel. A sudden spike in tourism will undoubtedly affect the environments and communities of popular destinations. Practicing responsible tourism helps make that effect a positive one.
Taking steps to travel sustainably is certain to reduce the burden placed on the planet. Your efforts are bound to provide you with a more unique and fulfilling travel experience as well.
Keep reading to learn about how you can prioritize sustainability while you travel!
What Is Responsible Tourism?
For many, it evokes thoughts of protecting ecosystems, but responsible tourism — also known as sustainable tourism or sustainable travel — encompasses so much more. As a result, these efforts also focus on the human side of sustainability.
The economies of popular destinations rely heavily on tourism. Investing in these local communities supports their livelihoods immediately and promotes growth in the long term.
“[Sustainable tourism] takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities" World Tourism Organization via the U.N.
That said, protecting the environment still plays a big role in sustainable travel. Reducing the impact that you have on local ecosystems helps keep them beautiful and thriving for others to enjoy.
How to Make Responsible Tourism a Priority
Whether you’re flying to another continent or taking a local road trip, it’s easy to do so with the planet in mind. These are our top 5 sustainable strategies for responsible tourism.
Find Solace in Solitude
Let’s face it, having to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with throngs of bothersome tourists sucks. It’s almost always more fun to explore sparsely populated hidden wonders.
A little research before you leave and engaging with locals can easily reveal some little-known treasures to visit in peace.
BYOB: Bring Your Own Bottle
Okay, this one is a pretty basic sustainable staple, and that’s likely because it’s so important. Bringing your own reusable water bottle dramatically cuts back on the need for the single-use plastic variety.
Additionally, bringing a water filter — possibly with a purifier, depending on your destination — allows you to refresh your bottle from natural sources. All without the threat of parasites ruining your trip.
Explore Protected Parks & Preserves
Visiting local wildlife sanctuaries plays a crucial role in responsible tourism. These parks and preserves are dedicated to protecting the world’s wildlife. The nearly $350 billion that these sanctuaries generate creates more than 20 million jobs and funds countless conservation efforts.
Spend Money Locally
In almost all cases, local economies serve as the backbone of the tourism industry. By choosing to spend your dollars at local vendors, your money actively supports these growing economies.
Over the last year, tourism has plummeted, and these communities have suffered as a result. Doing business with locally-owned shops, restaurants, and homestays will help these communities bounce back.
Always Respect Local Communities & Habitats
One of the core tenets of responsible tourism is respect — respect for both communities and ecosystems. Some of the beauty in tourism comes from experiencing new and unique cultures.
When experiencing these cultures, it’s important to always be respectful toward locals — this is their home, and they deserve to be treated with the utmost dignity. Similarly, special care should be taken when visiting natural sites so as not to disturb the delicate harmony that exists.
Make Space for Sustainability in Tourism
Responsible tourism makes it possible for local communities to thrive and future generations to appreciate the world’s wonders. By sticking to our 5 strategies, you can create an experience that’s eco-friendly and uniquely enjoyable.
When traveling, always remember that your action will impact the local community and environment. It’s up to you to decide whether that impact will be a positive or negative one.
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