With a projected 1.7 billion international tourists arriving on foreign shores by 2025, up from 1.1 billion in 2014, it’s unsurprising that tourism is currently exploding in growth, and one of the most economically resilient industries worldwide.
There reasons for this are numerous. Budget airlines have contributed to the proliferation of travel by dropping fares substantially. And the internet has also played a part; it’s now easier than ever to organize and book a trip in its entirety. Plus, because blog hosting has become so accessible, many people are also travelling full-time and making money from documenting their adventures, or while working remotely.
It’s not all beaches and sunshine, however. What a lot of travellers may not be aware of is that every trip we take takes its toll on the environment; in the UK alone, air travel accounts for 6.3% of the country’s CO2 emissions. That’s just one example in an exhaustive list of factors that are directly affecting the environment via travel. However, as a traveller, there are steps you can take to minimize your environmental footprint and travel sustainably.
How to Travel Sustainably
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Stay at Eco-friendly Accommodations
A growing number of hotels, guest houses and lodges are making sustainability one of the main attractions, looking to appeal to a more ethically-minded guest. They are often built from of or feature recycled, reclaimed or sustainably sourced materials, with the aim of keeping environmental disruption to a minimum.
For example, the Nightfall Wilderness Camp is built to blend in to the forest in northern Australia (pictured below). Each Safari tent is set in a private clearing, and fully self contained featuring electricity, generous king size beds, an in-tent rain-head shower which opens to the forest outside. The tent’s canvas is adjustable allowing you to choose your level of connection with the wilderness outside.
With conventional hotels producing excessive amounts of waste, eco-accommodations aim to use less electricity, water and natural resources, as well as promote environmental sustainability.
Think Carefully When Hiring a Car
Hiring a car should only be done when absolutely necessary, and even then alternative options such as electric cars should be explored. Whereever possible, ditch the expense of hiring a car and opt for public transport instead, unless you’re a large group where travelling in one vehicle might be the most sustainable option.
According to this website, by using public transport instead of a car, “a single person saves 4,800 pounds of CO2 per year.” The best, and possibly most pleasant mode of transportation however, would be to get around by bicycle. It’s cheap, good for you, and more importantly, has no negative impact on the environment.
Respect Local Culture
Along with green environmental practices, travelling sustainably is also about supporting local communities and protecting local heritage and culture.
Areas such as the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya are home to the nomadic Maasai people. Their cultural practices, which might seem strange to westerners at first, should always be respected by visitors and tourists.
Wearing the appropriate clothing when visiting religious sites or even entire countries is another example. Although it’s a controversial subject, when visiting Saudi Arabia, it’s law for a woman to wear an abaya – a robe like dress – when in public.
Tourism presents a strange dichotomy; it allows the means to preserve a culture, but also has the potential to dilute it. Therefore it’s important to understand the effects that travelling may have on culture.
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