Posté par Pierre Brian Imart le 2017-04-25 dans

How to be a sustainable tourist

Have you ever cringed at tourism-linked pollution on your screensaver-lookalike beach ? You may have wondered what to do about it but solving tourism-linked environmental problems is something no tourist wants to do so you roll your eyes, shrug and tell yourself  « oh well, I’ll be careful to recycle real good this year ». Well, now you know there’s something called Sustainable Tourism, and it’s actually pretty easy.

What is Sustainable Tourism?

Sustainable tourism is pretty much the same thing as regular tourism besides having a positive impact on the environment, society and economy of the place you’re visiting. Sustainable tourism involves primary transportation to the general location, local transportation, accommodations, entertainment, recreation, nourishment and shopping. It can be related to travel for leisure, business and what is called VFR (visiting friends and relatives). There is now a general consensus that tourism development should be sustainable; however, whether or not to practice it remains an object of debate.

Without travel there is no tourism, so the concept of sustainable tourism is tightly linked to a concept of sustainable mobility. Two relevant considerations are tourism’s reliance on fossil fuels and tourism’s effect on climate change. 72 % of tourism’s CO2 emissions come from transportation, 24 % from accommodations, and 4 % from local activities.

7 tips to become more of a sustainable tourist

  1. Aviation. It accounts for 40% of your tourism-linked CO2 emissions (or 55% of transport emissions) so choosing your destination is pretty much the most important. Choosing to go to the other side of the world may seem a lot more exciting than going to the country next door but you may be surprised what your neighbors have to offer. If you live in Europe, you can’t complain about close-by islands and destinations, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Croatia offer all the heavenly beaches you can wish for. If you live in North America, you can go surfing in the U.S., Mexico and all of Central America but you can also go north and visit Canada’s most amazing landscapes, you’ll find everything you need on the Canadian government’s website. If, unlike most of this blog’s followers, you are from another area than these 2, some close-by destinations may be a lot more attractive than you think.
  2. Accommodation. Once arrived at destination, it will be preferable for you to stay in a local’s home, easily found in traveler’s guides, kind of the same principal as Casa Particular in Cuba. Some social networks (Couchsurfing or Airbnb) can directly link you up with locals and help you save your money off excessively expensive hotel prices. This way, you help the local community develop and get useful tips on places to visit, eat, go out… which brings us onto the next tip.
  3. Eat different. Eating local genuinely means eating different. Excluding specialties, try to avoid comfort food, it’ll probably be more expensive, industrially made and nutrient-deficient. Plus, you’ll have plenty of time to eat fast-food back home.
  4. À la locale. Instead of googling travel hacks, cheap and local bars, or using hotel coupons, make sure to ask locals where they have an afternoon drink and relax, because after all, you are on holiday. Once you’ve found your local pub, you can straight-forwardly ask them what activities they recommend, how to get around by public transport and spare eco-heavy taxi rides.
  5. Get lost. Traveling is all about disconnecting, switching your brain off and opening up to the new. Besides alcohol, there are other ways you can achieve that. Using a travel guide can be very helpful to follow your plans but sometimes it’s nice to just get lost in the city’s street or go for a little road trip. If you’re lucky, you may find yourself in the most convenient situations and if worst comes to worst, you’ll spend a couple of bucks on a local restaurant in the middle of nowhere.
  6. Don’t waste, don’t pollute. This is an obvious one but is often forgotten. Leaving plastic bags, cigarette packs and beer cans behind will only destroy the environment, piss locals off, and make it less pleasant for other tourists, which is a main source of revenue.
  7. Smile. There’s nothing worse than a drunk and frustrated tourist that shouts at the waiter for having misunderstood their order. If you’re a londoner or have a heavy texas-sounding accent, try and phase-out your accent and be tolerant towards waiters, they only want to do their job right. Having fun and smiling will keep locals welcoming. And who knows, you might even get a date if you’re lucky.

The Australian government, tourism-linked polluter and polluted, has had its Department of Energy establish a 10-step program to Sustainable Tourism.

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