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8 SUSTAINABLE TOURISM PRACTICES
Sustainable tourism is about making smarter choices in every aspect of your trip. It starts from home to when you eventually book your holiday accommodation, transport, experiences, and tour activities and by being aware of where you are spending your money without compromising the fun or experience.
I have shared eight simple sustainable tourism practices to get you started. Begin by practicing at least one or two practices, and then slowly adopt more. This will do wonders for our planet and the places we visit and its community members. The idea is to learn about every practice, then adopt what works for you, and keep adding new ones from there.
1. CONSIDER ECO-CONSCIOUS ACCOMMODATIONS
The industry now knows the importance of making a profit while still taking care of the environment. Before booking your holiday accommodation, do a little research to find out what good environmental measures have been put into place by the property. For example, the type of bedding used, do they recycle water, do they use alternative heating sources, is their furniture locally sourced or produced, do they employ the locals, etc.
2. AVOID CROWDED DESTINATIONS
If possible, avoid overcrowded places by visiting less known destinations like small towns and villages or secluded places, or try to visit the usually crowded and popular places during off-peak season. Over tourism causes many negative effects, such as endangering protected species, damaging the environment, overwhelming local communities, and sometimes displacing local people. It’s understandable if you are not willing to skip popular destinations but try to practice at least one sustainable tourism practice during your trip. This could mean making a stop at a less popular town after your bucket list destination.
3. PACK ZERO WASTE, REUSABLE ITEMS
It’s a fact that the best way to reduce your waste output is to produce less, so pack light and purposeful. Basic things like packing reusables such as water bottles, coffee cups, steel or bamboo straws, food containers (collapsible ones are great for traveling), bamboo cutlery, etc. can help you avoid single-use plastics which is great for our planet. Zero waste and reusable products help to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. You could also help the environment by taking part in beach and park clean up campaigns in your areas.
4. SPEND YOUR MONEY LOCALLY AND SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESS
By choosing locally-owned accommodations, buying locally made products, eating at independent restaurants, choosing local experiences, buying your souvenirs from a small shop or the small business owner on the side of the road, booking accommodation at small family-owned accommodations, buying coffee at a small café, and hiring local guides, you would be making a great positive impact on our country especially the communities of the places you visit. This is called inclusive tourism and it helps and supports local communities and businesses.
5. TREAT WILDLIFE AND ANIMALS WITH RESPECT
I strongly believe that animals shouldn’t be used for human entertainment and they need to live as free from human interference as possible. If you are keen to see wild animals in their natural habitat, choose places that offer ethical and sustainable animal interactions such as marine conservation centres, animal sanctuaries, and game farms that allow the animals to roam freely without human interactions.
Getting up close and personal with wildlife is often a highlight for most tourists when they visit a place hence activities such as swimming with seals, shark cage diving, safaris, reptile parks, and elephant sanctuaries are so popular. Just make sure wildlife is not exploited at the place you visit.
6. WALK, CYCLE, AND TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
When you’re exploring a place, always consider the mode of transportation that is greener than your own vehicle. Try renting a bicycle or non-motorised scooter, or walking. These alternative modes for getting around the city will not only help you save money, but it’s also a great opportunity to spend more time outside and being active, and they produce less CO2 emissions. By the way, most interesting things are discovered while walking or riding a bicycle than driving a car. Using public transport or one vehicle instead of multiple cars when travelling as a group also helps the environment.
7. EMBRACE SLOW TRAVEL
Be intentional and immersive about slow travel because spending more time in a destination enables you to learn more about the place you are visiting while spending money to support local tourism. Slow travel is all about spending quality time in the area, rather than rushing through it. Instead of filling up your itinerary with activities, allow some time to just walk around the area and maybe hang out with the locals. Slow travel also has environmental benefits, it results in less overland travel, which means less CO2 emissions.
8. DO YOUR RESEARCH AND LISTEN
Even though travel is mostly about leisure and a way to take a break from our busy lives, travelling can be a learning opportunity too. In order to enjoy the destination and learn about the place, people, cultures, traditions, and experiences, travel with an open mind and pure heart. Before traveling, take the time to do some research. Look beyond the typical “top things to do” articles on search engines, and dig into the culture and norms of the place you are headed to. Learning about the people, history, culture, traditions, experiences, and local food of the place you are visiting will help you make sense of what to expect on your trip. During your trip, continue the learning by talking with locals, asking them questions, and listening to what they have to say. You will be surprised how much you will learn about the place from the locals than with an article on the internet.
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