Towards Sustainability: Shaping Sustainable Travel Together
Towards Sustainable Travel: Shaping a Greener Future Together
Sustainable travel has become an essential goal for both travelers and the tourism industry. As the awareness of environmental impact increases, the focus on shaping a sustainable future for travel has grown.
Sustainable tourism is tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, meeting the needs of visitors, environmental professionals and host communities (World Tourism Organization – UNWTO).
This article delves into the concept of sustainable travel and explores how travelers and the tourism industry can work together to promote environmentally friendly practices and preserve the world’s natural and cultural heritage.
1. Understanding Sustainable Travel
Sustainable travel, also known as eco-friendly or responsible travel, is an approach that aims to minimize the negative impact of tourism on the environment, local communities, and cultural heritage. It involves making conscious choices to support practices that are socially responsible, economically viable, and environmentally friendly.
2. Empowering Travelers
Travelers play a vital role in shaping sustainable travel. By being informed and mindful of their travel choices, they can contribute significantly to environmental conservation and community development. Some ways travelers can promote sustainability include:
– Choosing eco-friendly accommodations that implement energy-saving measures and support local communities.
– Opting for sustainable transportation options like public transit or eco-friendly tours.
– Respecting local cultures, traditions, and wildlife while minimizing waste and pollution.
3. Collaboration in the Tourism Industry
The tourism industry also holds a critical responsibility in shaping sustainable travel. Hotels, tour operators, airlines, and other travel-related businesses can adopt sustainable practices that benefit both the environment and local communities. Some initiatives the industry can undertake are:
– Implementing energy-efficient technologies in hospitality facilities to reduce the carbon footprint.
– Supporting local artisans and businesses to enhance the economic well-being of the communities.
– Offering educational programs and initiatives to raise awareness among travelers about sustainability.
4. Preserving Natural and Cultural Heritage
Sustainable travel aims to protect and preserve natural landscapes and cultural heritage sites for future generations. By promoting responsible tourism, we can ensure that these treasures remain intact and accessible for years to come.
5. The Importance of Collaboration
To achieve meaningful and long-lasting changes, collaboration between travelers, the tourism industry, and governments is crucial. By working together, stakeholders can address challenges and develop innovative solutions that lead to a more sustainable travel ecosystem.
How to go on vacation without damaging the planet?
Embarking on an eco-conscious vacation doesn’t mean compromising on adventure or fun. By making thoughtful choices and adopting sustainable travel practices, you can explore the world while preserving the beauty of our planet for future generations. Here are some inspiring examples of how to go on vacation without causing too much harm to the environment. Let’s discover how to make your travels both memorable and environmentally responsible. By adopting sustainable travel practices, we can embark on memorable journeys while minimizing our impact on the environment. Here are some practical examples of how to go on vacation without damaging the planet:
1. Eco-friendly accommodations
“Green Hotels” are an excellent example of sustainable travel implementation. These hotels employ various eco-friendly practices such as using renewable energy sources, recycling programs, water-saving initiatives, and locally sourced organic food. Travelers can support sustainability by choosing to stay in such eco-friendly accommodations during their trips.
Example: Treehouse Eco Resort nestled in the rainforest of Costa Rica, operates with sustainable principles, offering a unique and immersive experience in harmony with nature.
2. Sustainable transportation
Many tour operators now offer eco-friendly transportation options, such as electric buses or bicycles, for sightseeing tours and excursions. Travelers can opt for these sustainable transportation choices to reduce their carbon footprint while exploring new destinations.
Example: In Switzerland, the Swiss Travel System offers a comprehensive network of trains, trams, and boats that allow travelers to explore the country’s scenic beauty in an eco-friendly manner.
3. Community-based tourism
Local communities in various regions have developed community-based tourism initiatives that offer authentic cultural experiences to travelers. These initiatives include homestays, community-guided tours, and participation in traditional activities. By supporting community-based tourism, travelers contribute directly to the economic well-being of the local communities.
For example you can experience sustainable agriculture in Bali, where you can participate in organic farm tours and learn about permaculture practices.
4. Also remember to travel light!
Pack only the essentials to reduce the weight of your luggage, which in turn reduces fuel consumption during transportation. If the four billion annual passengers lightened by 100 grams (3.5 oz) before boarding, 50,000 tons of fuel would be saved each year… That is 1,000 Paris Bombay flights!
5. What are the activities that respect the planet?
Respecting the planet is both enjoyable and rewarding.
Stick to marked paths to preserve delicate plant life. Consider participating in a solidarity farm to connect with like-minded ecotourists and care for the Earth. Together, we can make a positive impact on our planet while still having fun.
Avoid attractions that exploit animals, such as riding elephants or posing with drugged tigers. Instead, visit sanctuaries or reserves where animals are treated with respect. Join ecological walks to pick up waste and take part in solidarity dives to clean up marine environments.
For example you can discover eco-conscious safari experiences in Namibia, focused on wildlife protection and community engagement. Another example: Responsible whale-watching tours in Iceland offer thrilling experiences while ensuring minimal disturbance to these majestic creatures and their natural habitat.
Conserve water and energy
Practice mindful water usage, such as taking shorter showers and reusing towels. Turn off lights and air conditioning when not in use to conserve energy.
Reduce single-use plastics
Carry a reusable water bottle, shopping bag, and utensils to minimize plastic waste and its impact on marine life.
Participate in sustainable activities
Engage in ecotourism activities like hiking, birdwatching, or nature walks that promote conservation and appreciation for the natural world. Embark on a volunteer vacation to help with environmental conservation or community development projects in countries like Peru or Kenya.
Leave No Trace
Respect the environment by leaving nature undisturbed. Avoid littering and stay on designated trails to protect fragile ecosystems.
Offset your impact
Support local environmental initiatives or carbon offset programs to compensate for your travel-related emissions.
Making tourism sustainable is an ambitious goal
Sustainable tourism is a form of tourism which aspires to be, at the same time, more respectful of the environment, more attached to the economic development of the sites crossed and more concerned with the rights and working conditions of tourism professionals, the cultures encountered , people with low incomes or with disabilities. This corresponds to the three “pillars” of sustainable development: environment, economy, social and societal. To use the definition given by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), it is “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, by meeting the needs of visitors, professionals , environment and host communities”.
“Sustainable” tourism is not synonymous with “nature” tourism or “green” tourism. Because you can live a “sustainable” tourism in the middle of the city: use public transport, consume products that respect the environment, take showers rather than baths, sort your waste, have friendly exchanges with the inhabitants, choose a hotel with a sustainable approach, visit less frequented places… And conversely, you can experience “unsustainable” tourism in the middle of the countryside: go motocross on small paths, pick any flower, leave the enclosures of open pastures, abandoning the remains of your picnic on the spot, protesting when the swimming pool of the gîte is empty because of prefectural bans in times of drought…
But “100% sustainable” tourism does not exist
There is always an impact related to travel, accommodation, activity. The important thing is to limit this impact as much as possible, or to offset it, for example through the carbon offsetting offered by certain airlines. Sustainable tourism is an approach that aims for the best in each context, but without being able to achieve zero impact.
The greatest environmental impact of a tourist stay is before arrival!
Global tourism is responsible for around 8% of humanity’s total greenhouse gas emissions, three-quarters of which come from transport, and 40% from planes alone. It is therefore advisable to favor public transport, soft transport (walking, cycling, etc.) and to leave less far and less often.
When do we leave?
Now that you’re well-equipped with knowledge about green travel, you’re all set for your world tour! But when is the best time to embark on this adventure? Consider respecting the seasons of different regions around the world. Traveling during the rainy season, for example, may pose challenges and make it harder to apply these eco-friendly tips effectively.
Travel is an enriching experience for young minds, so why not educate and inspire young travelers? If you’re traveling with children, show them that there are various ways to explore the world responsibly. Teach them the importance of leaving a place as we found it, being mindful of not disturbing the wildlife, and showing respect to the local communities and their efforts to preserve nature.
Remember, every small action we take while traveling can make a big difference in protecting our planet for future generations. So, go out there, explore the world responsibly, and lead by example to create a positive impact on the places you visit. Happy and responsible travels!
Sustainable travel is not just a trend but a vital necessity to protect the planet and promote responsible tourism. By shaping sustainable travel together, travelers, the tourism industry, and local communities can contribute to a more environmentally friendly and culturally sensitive travel experience.
“Sustainable” tourism has links with “tourism and disability”, “social” tourism and “solidarity” tourism.
“Tourism and Disability” aims at the accessibility of tourist sites and facilities, taking into account all types of disabilities and the development of a tourist offer adapted and integrated into the generalist offer.
Social tourism aims to help with holidays for people who have difficulties of a financial and social nature, in pursuit of the objective of the “right to holidays for all”.
“Solidarity” tourism aims for privileged encounters with the inhabitants of the countries visited, fair sharing of the economic benefits of tourism, respect for local cultures.
They are distinguished in the world of tourism by their institutions:
For tourism and disability: the French Tourisme et Handicap brand, the international Destination pour tous brand, the European network of accessible tourism (ENAT), the development of appropriate techniques (accessible websites, dedicated layout of holiday resorts, for example for move around in a wheelchair…).
For social tourism: holiday vouchers, holiday camps and nature classes, holiday villages at reduced prices, holiday support for works councils, the family allowance fund or self-help associations, etc.
For solidarity tourism: specialized tour operators who can be labeled “Acting for responsible tourism” or “Fair and solidarity tourism guarantee”, associations involved in developing countries, etc.
We can consider that all of them are found in the concept of “responsible tourism” in the sense that the traveller, the tourism professional and the destination visited all have a responsibility towards society because of the positive and negative impacts that induces tourism. They bring together all committed tourism practices, whether green, solidarity, ethical, social, etc.
Sustainable tourism, tourism and disability, social tourism, solidarity tourism… Not everyone puts quite the same meaning behind all these words. But the important thing is the result, right?
Embracing sustainable practices not only benefits the destinations we visit but also enriches our travel experiences and leaves a positive legacy for future generations. Let us join hands and take the journey towards sustainability, making a difference one trip at a time.
Sources: The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO),