Travel is a fantastic opportunity to experience different cultures, see some amazing sights, meet new people and broaden your worldview. Tourism is also great for local economies and employment. However, there’s no denying that travel can impact the environment too. Responsible tourism can help to limit the impact your travel has on the future of the planet and its resources.
Responsible tourism is about reducing the environmental impact of your trip. This might involve using more environmentally friendly methods to travel or simply being respectful of the natural surroundings when you arrive by sticking to walking trails and taking your litter home with you. Here are some of the little ways you can practice responsible tourism during your travels.
Contributing to the local economy of your destination is a key aspect of responsible tourism. Choosing to spend your hard-earned money at small, local businesses will help to support and sustain communities even after the tourist season ends, ensuring they can sustain themselves through quiet periods and invest in the local area, which benefits both local people and tourists alike.
You should also consider venturing out to explore the places that aren’t as popular. One main reason for ‘overtourism’ is because of everybody wanting to see the same sights and crowding areas. Of course, you’re going to want to visit the big cities and see a tourist attraction or two, but try and stray from the beaten track and find some hidden gems. This is a great way to support local businesses that perhaps don’t get as much recognition as they deserve.
How you get around when you reach your destination is just as important as how you arrive there. 72% of tourism’s CO2 emissions are down to transport, so exploring places on foot or opting for cheap public transport reduces harmful emissions. Alternatively, you might want to make your entire vacation eco-friendly by booking a walking tour or cycling trip. This is also a fantastic way to get off the beaten track, as well as help you to stay fit and active during your trip.
You should respect the natural environment and leave your vacation destination exactly how you found it. This means not leaving any litter behind and recycling or composting your waste wherever possible. This also means you should avoid taking ‘natural souvenirs’ such as a piece of stone from old ruins or pieces of nature such as shells, flowers or rocks. You could upset the natural ecosystem, and if everyone decided to do this, there wouldn’t be anything left of the wonders that we love!
Avoid disturbing local wildlife and take care not to damage its natural habitat by picking wildflowers or leaving footpaths. When walking through the countryside, always close gates behind you and never, ever light a fire in the wild as many places are highly susceptible to wildfires, particularly in dry seasons.
Wherever possible, you should try to stay with locals, in small guest houses, bed and breakfasts or farm stays. This means you will be supporting local people who live in the region all year round, rather than large hotel chains or second homeowners. It’s also a great way to ensure you have an authentic experience and can get all the insider tips on what to see and do during your stay. Eating locally sourced produce is typically cheaper and tastier and is another fantastic way to practice responsible tourism and reduce the environmental impact of your vacation.