Eco-friendly practices are changing the face of tourism in many countries around the world. By implementing sustainable practices, we can ensure the protection of our natural resources. Green habits sometimes falter when we're on holiday, but encouraging sustainable tourism protects our resources and revenue. Some negative impacts of tourism include pollution, social issues and harm to beaches, waterways and plant and animal species. To change outcomes we need to ask some important questions:
Why is sustainable travel important? Tourism is one of the major factors that influence a country's economy. When tourism increases, this can hold many benefits for the country in terms of employment for local people and revenue for business owners and the country as whole. Unfortunately, when tourism activities increase in the absence of sound environmental practices, the negative impacts also increase. If steps aren't taken to engage with stakeholders and implement sustainable eco-tourism practices, the very areas which attract tourists become damaged and impossible to sustain.
The importance of economic benefits
Tourism represents 5% of world GDP and contributes 6-7% of total employment. International tourism also ranks fourth in global exports and is valued at US$ 1 trillion a year. Any impacts on the tourism industry due to loss of biodiversity, ecological integrity and species is a grave loss to the economy of any region. Tourism accounts for 30% of the world’s commercial exports. So it is easy to see that if we don't protect our travel and tourism related resources, the losses for countries will be tremendous.
How can we make tourism more sustainable?
When countries integrate tourism into environmental and financial planning and undertake environmental impact assessments, tourism remains viable in the long-term. Countries must commit to using resources sustainably and natural, social and cultural tourism practices must be made renewable. This ensures that the ecology and natural resources are protected. Governments must be committed to reducing over-consumption and waste. In doing so we can avoid the rising costs of healing and restoring the damage to the environment. By maintaining sound biodiversity in natural areas we can ensure the long-term sustainable use and protection of important species and the involvement of local communities benefits them. By consulting stakeholders and the public, government officials can work together to resolve conflicts. Staff training with a focus on responsible tourism and ethical work practices improves any tourism product. Making sure that tourism is marketed responsibly ensures that this reach is spread as widely as possible.
How can I be a responsible tourist?
It's easier than you think. Don't litter in any land or coastal areas and don't remove or damage any plant or animal. Be a sustainable shopper and try to minimise waste where you travel. Shop local and try to eat at restaurants owned by local people. Support Fair Trade agreements when you buy any products while on holiday and at home. Buy from local crafters and artists and buy foods at street vendors from the local area. Support local musicians and dance groups. Use environmentally friendly products like reef-friendly sunscreen. When in a marine area choose a responsible dive or tour operator and explore remote areas vs overcrowded ones. When visiting an area act more like a local than a tourist! Walk or cycle instead of using public transport (but also support local taxi drivers). Don't buy products made from endangered trees or animals and avoid taking 'natural souvenirs'. Minimise your waste on day trips in the car and take as much home with you as you can. Respect the local culture and customs of the people in the country you visit and stay in sustainable accommodation that proves its green ethics.
Sustainable air travel
By now we keenly understand the need to minimise the ecological impacts of tourism on the environment, local species, coastal areas and people of the regions we promote. To do this we must all play a role in promoting sustainable practices in the travel and tourism industry. Carbon emissions from flying have become a real concern, so consider ways in which you can offset this footprint with other eco-friendly behaviour whilst travelling. CheapTickets.sg is committed to sourcing the most sustainable flights, accommodation and rental car providers in the industry.