After visiting 70 + countries, I must share that how important it is to travel as a Sustainable Travel. First, before you travel, keep these tips in your mind. You must reduce your impact on the planet, support local economies and be part of protecting the wildlife. In short, you lave a green footprint behind when you travel.
When I was traveling to Switzerland in 2017 and during my visit to UN in Geneva, they (UN) were celebrating 2017 as International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The whole idea was to create global awareness how responsible tourism can act as a factor to change positively
World well known three pillars of sustainable tourism are environment friendly (reduce, reuse & recycle). You can restore historic buildings by protecting cultural and natural heritage and saving the endangered species. You can provide tangible social & economic benefits for local communities by supporting fair wages to their employees.
As per the study from booking.com, 87% of travelers wanted to travel sustainable and nearly half were successful to manage in doing so. However, 48% of travelers never or rarely manage to travel sustainably.
Here are some of the steps which a traveler can take to be part of Sustainable Travel:
Destination and mode of travel
If you wish to choose a sustainable location, the 2018 Environmental Performance Index will help you. European Nations like Denmark, France and Switzerland are world’s most sustainable nations. When I was in Albania in 2018, I was told that their ranking is improved to 40th as compared to 61st in 2016. Albania took steps in protecting their only national marine park, Karaburun Sazan Marine Park with the support of United Nation Development Program and Global Environment Facility. From African countries, Namibia who made it part of their constitution to protect the environment. World Wildlife Fund helps the communities to conserve, manage and benefit from the wildlife on their lands.
In terms of mode of travel, be a part of the emerging “Slow Travel” by going fewer places and spending more time in each. Use trains instead of planes wherever possible. You not only experience a deeper sense of place; you will decrease your carbon footprint. If flying by plane, IATA has 30+ member Airlines who offer carbon offset program. Once at the destination, you can drive to close by places. If you don’t own electric or hybrid, try renting out. Walk and use bicycle to explore.
Don’t use plastic and carry BPA-free water bottles which can be refilled. Consider these steps even though hotel is eco-friendly, take the shorter showers, hang your towels after the use, once leaving the room, turn off all lights, AC and television and close the curtains. Leave “Do not disturb” sign outdoor so you can cut down on chemical cleansing or use of electricity by the Housekeeping staff of the hotel.
Shopping is anyone’s favorite subject. Try to buy locally produced souvenirs, it might be bit expensive than the imported cheaper crafts. By purchasing local items, you are contributing in the local economy with more positive direct impact. Never buy Wildlife products such as sea shells or made from fur. In January 2019, during travel exhibition at Halong Bay in Vietnam, I have seen local villagers were selling beautiful sea shells. In Africa, some locals sell hand-stitched eagle hunter’s hat made from plush wolf fur.
Lastly, make the donations to support projects that aim to protect the environment. Give to local reputable organizations that work on social welfare programs or to international organizations who are partner with them.