This is a guest post by Harper Reid. Harper is a freelance writer from New Zealand who contacted me asking if I’d be open to accepting a guest post about ways that the travel industry is embracing responsible tourism.
Although environmentally conscious trips do interest me, it’s a subject that I know little about, and so I was more than happy to accept her offer and learn something from her! Below is the finished article – I learnt a lot from it, and hopefully you will too.
5 Ways the Travel Industry is Embracing Responsible Tourism
Travelling has become increasingly popular with people the world over, and with the entire internet at our fingertips, it’s never been simpler to vote with our dollars and purposefully patronise companies whose values align with our own.
Particularly crucial in today’s world is environmentalism; more people than ever are concerned about the state of the environment and the impact that travelling can have on the earth.
Thankfully, tour providers, hotels, and other travel industry businesses are increasingly focused on making a difference, and you can embrace responsible tourism by booking environmentally conscious trips.
Here’s how the travel industry is becoming more eco-friendly.
1. Hotels and other accommodation providers are frequently working with eco-friendly businesses
Plenty of accommodation providers choose to partner with businesses that are doing positive things for the environment, or that are at least reducing their environmental impact.
One way that this manifests in the hotel businesses is that many modern hotels now encourage their guests to consider the environment when deciding if they really need their sheets changed or their towels washed during a short stay. You may see signs to this effect in your hotel, which is sure to be a reassuring reminder that accommodation providers around the world realise the negative impact that all that washing is having on climate change.
2. Hotels and hostels are recommending eco-friendly tourism activities
While TripAdvisor and other similar sites are often the method of choice for tourists interested in deciding where to eat and what to see while they’re in town, hotels and hostels often provide brochures on local attractions, and staff are usually happy to recommend their favourite places to visitors.
Many accommodation providers now consider the environmental impact of popular activities and choose to recommend more sustainable options to tourists, whether in the form of a restaurant that doesn’t use plastic packaging or an animal attraction that has a proven track record of treating their animals humanely.
3. Travel providers are adding a carbon emission offset fee
Carbon emission offset fees are one of the biggest ways to add to your environmentally conscious trips. Commonly found with airlines and other transport providers, they have been a valuable change in the travel industry.
Many companies now encourage their customers to pay a small fee to ‘offset’ the carbon emissions generated from their journey, with proceeds going to environmental projects. While flying is still far worse for the environment than other forms of transport, it’s comforting to know that money is being directed towards tree planting and energy projects. If you’re asked to add a little extra when you next book a flight, consider checking that ‘yes’ box – the environment will thank you!
4. There’s been a rise in sustainable tours
A huge part of responsible tourism is in moving away from traditional travel activities and choosing to take part in those that have less impact on the earth.
As just one example, visitors to countries in Southeast Asia can join eco-tourism tours in which they learn about the history of the area they’re visiting and stay with locals. Eco-tourism opportunities are available the world over, and should be considered an excellent alternative to mass tourism.
5. Travel bloggers are offering recommendations and tips
Travel blogs are everywhere these days, and reflecting the growing social concern about saving our environment and planning environmentally conscious trips, many of the people behind these accounts are environmentalists, or at least interested in doing their part for the environment. Many travel bloggers will often offer their followers tips on where to go, what to see, and how to do it sustainably.
It’s easier than ever to make responsible decisions while travelling. Although the travel industry accounts for almost 10% of all carbon emissions, it’s still possible to make responsible travel choices on your next trip that’ll minimise your impact on the earth, and it’s heartening to know that some major companies and influential individuals are focused on making a difference, too.
The late Anthony Bourdain once said, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
You can find more of Harper’s work on her Tumblr page, Harper Reid.
Books you may enjoy about about responsible tourism
travel: easy tips for the eco-friendly traveller
f*ck flying: 101 eco-friendly ways to travel
sustainable escapes (lonely planet)
eco travel. how to be a sustainable traveller
wherever you go: a guide to mindful, sustainable and life-changing travel
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