Tourism has increased remarkably in recent years, with a total of 1.4 billion tourists travelling to foreign destinations in 2018 alone.
While travel has a positive impact on local economies, cultural appreciation and education, it can have its downsides. Tourism on a large scale can cause disruption to local communities, make the conservation of natural heritage sites more challenging and contribute to the carbon pollution problem.
With this in mind, Rebecca Jackson from Perfect Stays shares her insights on how we can all become more sustainable tourists with small changes.
What is responsible tourism?
Responsible tourism is about making the right choices when it comes to choosing where and how you travel. It also means you’ll experience more of your destination and the culture it has to offer.
As we travel more often and further, it’s important for us all to think about how our choices might impact the environment and local communities. After all, we all want future generations to be able to enjoy the beautiful places we visit.
Small actions make a big difference
You don’t have to be a die-hard activist to be a responsible traveller; it’s all about being aware of how your actions and choices might impact the place you’re visiting.
Every visitor has a small impact on the land and its people, so while it’s near-on impossible to have zero-impact, you can make sure your visit is as positive as possible.
Here are some things to think about before you set off on your trip:
- Keep noise to a minimum
- Don’t leave anything behind i.e. rubbish
- Be respectful of the natural habitat
- Use public transport where possible
- Carry reusable water bottles
- Research eco-friendly accommodation
- Use water as sparingly as possible, particularly in places prone to drought
It’s also worth researching the laws of the land you’re visiting and any local cultural customs before you travel.
Alternative travel options
Think about how you travel. Most environmental damage caused by tourism is produced by air travel. The UNEP estimate that aviation is responsible for two percent of global CO2 emissions and it’s expected to grow by up to 15 percent by 2050.
If you can, avoid using short-haul flights and if possible, make these journeys by sea or train rather than by air, if time permits.
However, if your final destination is too far away and you have to get a plane, get the best value from long haul flights by going for fewer but longer trips, seeing as much as you can in one go.
Also, look at how you can travel while on holiday. Can you walk or cycle during the trip? Use public transport or share transport with other travellers? All of these things can reduce your carbon footprint.
Exploring the best of what the UK has to offer also has its benefits for sustainable tourism.
A staycation will help you become better acquainted and fall in love with your home. Connecting to a place is one of the most essential steps in wanting to care for place, which creates a desire to protect it. Not only are you helping the environment but travelling abroad can be expensive and exhausting.
UK staycations are the ideal solution for reducing both your carbon footprint and the stresses that come with travelling abroad.
Support local economies
No matter which holiday you choose, spending your money in the local economy is a great way to give back.
This can be as simple as buying your lunch from the local family-run restaurant, instead of a big chain, taking tours from local guides or buying your souvenirs from local craftsmen and not from the stores in the airport departure lounge.
If you’re unsure where to visit or who to book through, speak to your tour operator to see if they can recommend local attractions and facilities.
Image credits: Unsplash