Sustainable Tourism: How difficult is it?

In 1993 the UN decided to hold an International Day for Bio-diversity or IDB for short. This year’s theme is on sustainable tourism. As I enjoy travelling, and seem to be doing more of it recently, I was asked to take part in a thunderclap for today as well as write up a post with my thoughts.  As a travel lover, I thought it would be something interesting to look into. I can honestly say that sustainable travelling is only something I’ve ever given a cursory thought over. It’s not that I don’t think sustainable tourism is a good thing, it’s more that it’s not something you hear people talking about on a regular basis. That being said, how difficult would it be to be a sustainable tourist?

If I were to ask you what you think sustainable tourism is, how would you answer it? My first thoughts are always to not having a negative impact on the environment. For instance, not leaving any rubbish or waste behind you. I always take a carrier bag or something with me so that I can gather up all my rubbish when I’ve finished with it. But is there more to it than this?

If you look for the definition of the word you will find that it means to make a positive impact on the environment, society and economy of a place that you are visiting. So I guess my main thought isn’t too far off. In a way all tourism is bad for the environment of the country you are travelling to due to the pollution and carbon emissions used for the journey itself, as well as any other travelling done around that place. Plus the use of any of the amenities in the hotel. We’ve all seen the signs in hotels asking to resuse the towels to lower the water costs. Honestly though, how many of us actually do? I’ve been guilty of receiving fresh towels everyday, maybe less so that before. I guess, the luxury of fresh fluffy towels everyday is something we associate with travelling away?

We can also be more sustainable by helping out local businesses. This means not haggling down prices at the market, a long time-honoured tradition but maybe we are depriving the locals of a decent wage? Buying food in global restaurants instead of local. It’s tempting to go to McDonalds or Burger King when you’re unwary of the local food. But do these help to keep the local customs and traditions of the host country alive? Try to find an authentic family restaurant and enjoy the food of the country. A lot of people see food as part of the fun of travelling and experiencing of new cultures already, but it doesn’t mean you can’t try it yourself! I admit, I am wary about trying new food. I put myself before I’ve even seen what something looks like. But I always find somewhere that cooks pizza or pasta!

I think a lot of us, or at least the people I know, tend to take part in sustainable tourism almost by chance. Perhaps this is because we are more conscious of what we’re doing? Or maybe we’ve had it drilled into us more about the environmental impact in general. It doesn’t seem like it is too difficult to travel in a sustainable way. We just need to focus on it a little more than normal to make sure we are doing the most we can to help the communities of the places that we are visiting. I think we’re all a little guilty of not actively thinking on this. But it doesn’t mean that we won’t do in future. Hopefully we will start to see more sustainable tourism i

Hasta la fuego

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