According to an international team of researchers, the carbon footprint of the tourism industry has increased by 15% from the years 2009-2013 and is now contributing to about 8% of greenhouse gases emitted by anthropogenic activities. Moreover, this trillion-dollar industry is expected to grow with each passing year. Since completely avoiding travel is not an option, how can one compensate for the damage caused by unsustainable practices in the industry? Here are few small and responsible practices you can implement to be an eco-friendly tourist.
Travel Close To Home
Since aviation and transport is one of the main culprits of the ever growing, tourism related emissions. Therefore, while travelling for leisure, choose the destinations that either lie within your home country or are close to it. In this way, you can avoid flying and opt for a railway or road trip.
However, if you have to travel abroad for work trips or are very eager to explore forign lands, search for the airlines that are taking up responsibility as well as making amends for the damage caused by their aircrafts.
Choose Environmentally Conscious Lodges
Next time, while booking a hotel for a trip, make sure to check their website for a sustainability badge i.e. a certification provided by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council based on their usage of water, waste treatment, and energy sources etc. Call them ahead and inquire about their green efforts and eco-protective policies.
Alternatively, you should prefer airbnbs,homestay or small locally run hotels over mult-national hotel chains. In addition to being environment friendly, these are economically and socially sustainable.
Eco-friendly Holiday Providers
If you are hiring a service that does all the holiday bookings for you, then be clear of your interests in travelling responsibility. Ask them about their green tourism policies and if they have a sustainability rating system in place?
Luckily, if they rate places based on their sustainability management, what is their verification system? Because oftentimes, these providers green-wash the business without fully verifying their compliance to standards set by sustainability councils.
Give Back By Volunteering
We are all equally responsible for restoring earth back to its natural state, irrespective of our nationalities. Therefore, while planning a trip, sign up as a volunteer for the conservation or protection authority.
For Example, many coastal regions now offer marine life preservation and restoration campaigns consisting of fun and informative activities.
By doing so, you can compensate for the carbon emissions from your trip to a certain location. Moreover, it is one of the few ways to pay your gratitude to the community that has been hosting you.
Eat and Shop Locally
Supporting small local businesses is a financially and economically responsible decision as it will save you money as well as help the vendors. You get to taste the fully authentic flavours, discover new dishes, and engage with the community.
Instead of googling nearest Mcdonald’s outlet or the other food chains, visit a small roadside cafe or family restaurants. Interact with their owners or the other customers for some extra adventure.
Bonus: Some Sustainable Travel Destinations
Another way to be an ally to the environment is to skip tourist destinations and visit off-beat locations committed to saving the planet. Here are a few locations you can travel to next:
Palau— Tourists have to sign an eco pledge
Hawaii—A ban on coral killings used for manufacturing cosmetics
Portugal— A country committed to positive tourism
Costa Rica— UNESCO protected nature
Bhutan— world’s only carbon negative country
These are a few ways you can witness the beauty of this planet without being a burden on it.