An Introduction to Sustainable Tourism

Most of us love to travel. Breaking free from our usual routines, seeing sights and experiencing cultures unknown to us, can be richly rewarding and immensely therapeutic. But of course, there are some more practical considerations related to tourism and travel. Foremost among them is sustainability.

It goes without saying that traversing the world, or even taking a trip across the state, can generate a lot of pollution and expend a lot of energy. For those of us who prioritize sustainability at home, it’s important to extend those same ecological principles when we’re on the road. The question is how.

Tourism and the Environment

To set the stage for this conversation, allow us to share just a few salient facts and statistics.

●      The aviation industry contributes more than two percent of all the world’s carbon emissions… and that number is set to triple between now and 2050.

●      In many localities, littering increases by 40 to 50 percent during peak tourism seasons.

●      Eight out of 10 travelers head to coastal locations, which can significantly increase ocean waste and pollution.

These are just a few stats that indicate the massive environmental impact that tourism and travel can have. Luckily, there are steps that all travelers can take to mitigate this impact.

Sustainable Travel Practices

When we talk about sustainable tourism, that’s exactly what we’re talking about: Traveling and vacationing in a way that deliberately minimizes and controls the environmental footprint.

Sustainable tourism is really all about mindful intentions, and it can take many forms: Taking a train instead of a plane, or booking eco-friendly accommodations over a chain hotel. There are several specific types of sustainable tourism that are worth knowing about:

Slow Travel

Jet-setting from place to place, maintaining a frenzied itinerary, can really ramp up the environmental impact of your trip. Slow tourism is all about spending longer in each location, really immersing yourself in an experience as opposed to rushing to the next thing. It also involves taking trains or buses from city to city, as opposed to renting cars or taking different flights.

Eco Tourism

Eco tourism, on the other hand, is all about embracing nature. If your idea of a dream vacation involves hiking, camping, and ample time outdoors, this approach maybe right up your alley. For example, you might consider a guided hiking trek over a glitzy trip with a big-budget touring company.

Regenerative Tourism

Regenerative tourism means taking a little time during each trip to give something back to the local environment. For example, if you spend 10 days at the beach, you might devote one morning to picking up litter. If you spend a lot of time in an exurban location, you might participate in a local tree planting service.

Travel with Sustainability in Mind

As you think about your next vacation, make sure you keep environmental concerns in mind. There are plenty of ways to travel more mindfully, showing continued care for the natural world.

For more tips and considerations related to environmental stewardship, keep tabs on the WasteXperts blog!


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