The Year of Sustainable Tourism
2017 has been named as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism by the UN World Tourism Organisation. Why? The goal of the year is to recognise and celebrate the huge impact that tourism has on our world: on our environment, on our societies, and on the global economy.
More specifically, the objective is to celebrate the difference we can all make, as travellers, in making sure that the impact of travel and tourism is positive in these three areas.
Because the truth is, we have a bit of a way to go, but also a huge opportunity.
What does that mean for us as Travellers?
There has never been a time when our choices and decisions as travellers have mattered more, and there has never been a time where we can make such a positive difference as we can now. That goes for we travel bloggers too.
But rather than take my word for it and listening to me rambling on, I asked some inspiring top Travel Bloggers and Industry friends for their advice. Here are some of the best tips out there, on how we can all make 2017 the year that travel has the best impact ever.
Our choice to support Ethical over Un-Ethical – Amanda’s Wanderlust
“My tip for responsible tourism is twofold. First, always do your research before booking a trip. This is essential as it helps us avoid supporting unethical practices or attractions. Second, we as consumers must start to demand that the industry does more to clean up its act.
The future of tourism depends on the environmental and ethical demands of us as consumers. That is what will push the responsible tourism agenda forward. The extent to which we are willing to purchase on the basis of genuine environmental and ethical policies, action and certifications (even if it costs more) will define the future of tourism. Then maybe one day all tourism will be responsible tourism.”
Travel with Awareness – Breathe Dream Go
“Travelling responsibly means travelling with awareness. I recommend finding ways to increase your awareness of self, the other and your impact. You can join a spiritual community, system or lineage, or you can find your own way. Many people find spending a significant amount of time in nature makes them more aware and perceptive. I find yoga works for me, and there’s nowhere like India—the birthplace of yoga—to study this art & science. From ashrams to yoga centres to retreats, there’s no end of possibilities in India for understanding the essence of yoga.”
Canadian travel writer and blogger Mariellen Ward lives half the year in India and publishes an award-winning, India-inspired travel blog.
Interested in travelling to India? You can also read my post about First Time India here.
Linger a little Longer – Untold Morsels
“Helping to support the economies of the areas we visit is a great way to travel responsibly. Many popular destinations such as Venice and Dubrovnik have an influx of day trippers and miss out of the added economic benefit of overnight stays and additional meals in their neighbourhoods.
We try to stay at least one night in each destination we visit and choose local hotel, tour and eating options over global chains where possible. In this way the profits made from our stay are more likely to be directed to the local community. The added benefit is that we see these destinations at dawn and dusk when there are fewer crowds and we can soak up their beauty.”
Untold Morsels is a travel blog with culture, food and family in mind.
Interested in exploring destinations such as venice in a responsible way? Read my post about Venice here.
Be an Active Traveller – Travindy
“Be an active traveller as opposed to a passive observer. If you see something that you are impressed by, share it. If you see something you think is wrong, share it. Post images to your social media accounts. Comment on Tripadvisor. Contact websites like ours with stories that need telling. Inform the companies concerned or tweet about them. Transparency is one of the best tools to promote more sustainable and responsible tourism. And we, as travellers, are the people best placed to spread the messages.”
Jeremy is Co-founder and Editor of Travindy, the only tourism industry news site to focus exclusively on sustainable tourism. He also writes a fortnightly blog for World Travel Market on sustainable tourism.
Spread the Wealth! – Lost with Purpose
“It happens all the time: people check in to a hotel or guesthouse. They sleep there. They eat there. They drink there. Heck, they even buy their bottled water there. All of their tourist money goes to the hotel, rather than the local economy.
Our tip? Spread the wealth! Buy your snacks from small local convenience stores. Get drinks from people selling them on the corner. Try eating at a different small restaurant every day, and avoid chains like the plague. This ensures your money supports small, local businesses—not fat cats in a board room.”
Lost with Purpose are a backpacking couple sharing stories from off the beaten track destinations like Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan!
Stay with Locals – The Shooting Star
“To truly immerse yourself in a destination, live with the locals and embrace their way of life. It is the only way to get rid of cultural misconceptions, and realize that the world is full of more good souls than we hear about in the news – while giving back to the local economy. I learnt some of my most important life lessons on the road while living with the indigenous cacao farmers in Costa Rica, a World War II Polish refugee in South Australia, and an Italian artist in Umbria.”
Read more on Shivya’s blog, The Shooting Star – just a girl who travels.
Buy Local, Artisan Souvenirs – A Traveling Life
“Instead of purchasing mass-produced souvenirs when I travel, I set aside a small budget to invest in one or two nice pieces of handmade art or jewelry. I always try to buy directly from the artist or from an artists’ cooperative, so the proceeds stay within the community. And if I have the chance, I talk to the artist to learn more about him or her, so I have a nice story to take home as well. I also never bargain over the price of something that took someone’s time and talent to create.”
Brianne Miers blogs about balancing a professional career with a life of travel on her blog, A Traveling Life.
Travel Lighter – Interlude Journey
“One of the easiest ways to do your part while traveling is to carry a light-weight backpack. Say no to plastic bags from shops and instead put your items in a backpack or a cloth bag. Eat and drink in the cafe rather than going for takeaway. Carry a reusable water bottle with you and fill up from large water jugs that can be found in most hotels and restaurants. You may get some funny looks, but you’d be amazed how many bottles/bags you’d otherwise accumulate! Also, make an effort to refill your water bottle with clean water wherever possible – not only is it good for the environment, but it will be about 90% cheaper for you than buying bottled water.”
Interlude Journey is one of India’s top travel blogs, sharing stories of their travelogues, destination guides and outdoor adventures.
Offset our Flights – Footprints and Photos
“Responsible travel is all about the choices we make. One choice that has a massive impact on the size of our travel footprint is choosing to fly. Long-haul flights aboard fuel guzzling aeroplanes contribute to climate change. As an environmental scientist, I believe climate change is all too real and we need to act now to preserve our beautiful world. Whilst overland travel drastically reduces carbon emissions, sometimes flights are unavoidable. Where I can’t avoid, I like to offset. Offsets sponsor renewable energy – making it more accessible – or support projects like reforestation. It doesn’t undo the flight, but it does help the climate change fight.”
Kaylee is a qualified environmental scientist and global travel addict, inspiring fellow travellers on her blog Footprints & Photos.
Educate Yourself about Volunteering – Ben Salt
“My first experiences of volunteering abroad were particularly formative. I’d seen volunteering as an obvious way to effect positive change and learn more about development. But in South America, then Asia, I learnt that this isn’t always the case. Not all volunteer projects are equal. Sometimes these organisations – and us by being there – are doing more harm than good. This is especially true when children and orphanages are involved.
So, before volunteering abroad, educate yourself. Consider what skills you have to offer. Then, find organisations where your overall impact can be positive.
Travel is a privilege many others around the world don’t have. Cherish it. Respect the people you meet and the places you visit. Question your impact and always be open to learning.”
You can read about my experiences volunteering in Cambodia & what I learned here.
Lose the Plastic – Passions and Places
“Our top tip for Responsible Travel is to reduce the amount of plastic you use and especially the amount of waste we create on the road.
One step that we have found to be easy is to pack re-usable items to replace plastic – such as a stainless steel water bottle to replace plastic water bottles, and a cloth shopping bag to replace plastic ones. These two additions cut out our need for two of the worst plastic culprits. Beyond those, taking an insulated coffee mug would get rid of the need to use disposable coffee mugs at every coffee shop. Anything that prevents plastic being used helps!”
Passions and Places is an American couples’ travel and outdoors blog, focused on
responsible travel, outdoor adventure, and getting off the beaten path.
I’d like to thank all who contributed towards this collaborative post! Here’s to 2017 as the best and most sustainable year for tourism yet!
What do you think about the international year of sustainable tourism? How do you find ways to travel sustainably? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Author: Ellie Cleary, Soul Travel Blog