Sustainable travel is a holistic view incorporating economic development, environmental and cultural respect with traveling.
There are many buzz words out there like eco-tourism, geo-tourism, responsible travel, pro-poor tourism, ethical travel etc. They are all manifestations of the core wish to make sure that a destination can be enjoyed in the same way now, in the future.
According to the World Tourism Organisation,
Sustainable tourism development guidelines and management practices are applicable to all forms of tourism in all types of destinations, including mass tourism and the various niche tourism segments. Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability.
For me it’s the idea of making sure that the destination profits from tourists, without damaging the environment or insulting the local culture/society. It is applicable everywhere.
Key examples of traveling sustainably are:
- Stay in locally owned accommodation (rather than a multinational where the profits return to the company’s headquarters, by staying locally owned, the money stays in the local economy).
- Ensure your environmental impact is low, respect the environment as if it were your own (don’t damage local flora/fauna, don’t litter, reuse, recycle, reduce).
- Read up or take note of local customs and cultures and respect them (wear appropriate clothing, as do the locals eg cover up bare shoulders and legs if that is what the locals do, be silent in sacred places etc).
Tourism accounts for 10% of world GDP (World Trade & Tourism Council).
The impact of each one of us traveling will have a great impact on the world when it all adds up. This is to illustrate how important traveling sustainably is, especially in least developed countries.
It’s your choice.
For more information, here are a few sites that I have found interesting and a good point of reference:
- On tourism developments worldwide – UN World Tourism Organisation
- On Geotourism – National Geographic
- More tips on how to travel responsibly – Responsible Travel.com
- New innovations on what you can do at home and what people are doing around the world – World Changing.com
- Report on the role of tourism in economic opportunities of the developing countries – WBCSD & SNV
- On ethical travel – Flightless Travel.com
- For a full page on more links for information, work and for tourism professionals – Center for Sustainable Destinations
- On Sustainable Development – Worldwatch.org
- For more information and to join a community of local and independent travelers, visit – Much Better Adventures.
Travel safe & sustainably,