In this latest blog, we take a look at what it means to travel sustainably, providing some top tips and leading sustainable destinations!
International tourist arrivals have increased from 25 million globally in 1950, to 278 million in 1980, 527 million in 1995, 1.32 billion in 2017 and are expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030. At the same time:
• Thousands of people may arrive in a tourist destination every day, and this destination may lack any proper recycling facilities.
• Although there are hotels that are recycling water, they still have to use millions of litres of potable water per year being, at the same time, often located in water scarce regions.
• Beef consumption is the most water-consumptive practice by travelers.
This is compounded by the fact that, every year, 40 million tons of carbon pollution is dumped into the atmosphere, and, although 70% of the earth’s surface is water, only 3% is potable. Even though the above may not be solely related to tourist activities, tourist activities do contribute to all of them. The way regions and countries develop their tourism industry does produce significant impacts on natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems. This has led to a growing interest in sustainable (or responsible) tourism, defined as “tourism that respects both local people and the traveller, cultural heritage and the environment”. It seeks to provide people with an exciting and educational holiday that is also of benefit to the people of the host country. Sustainable tourism is all about small things prospective tourists can do to make their holiday more eco-friendly. Here are some of our top tips:
• Plastics: carry and use your own cloth bag each time you go shopping or select a plastic re-usable bag and use it until worn out; avoid buying plastic bottles of water, in particular in countries where there is no way of disposing of them, by bringing your own bottle with you after having removed all packaging and have left it back home (but always consider purifying water before you consume it); avoid using disposable utensils, etc.
• Packaging: give preference to products with minimal or no packaging at all.
• Waste: This goes without saying: do not litter and try to avoid excessive waste, and recycle where possible.
• Water Conservation: Take quick showers using as little water as possible, use kettles and pans of the right size to avoid excessive cooking water, and avoid using hotel laundry (they typically wash clothes per guest separately), etc.
• Local Economy: It is really important to support the local economy wherever possible by buying local produce or souvenirs, eating at local restaurants and, if possible, selecting organic food
• Responsible Travel: Travelling can be made much more sustainable via a number of small changes. Whilst flying is often unavoidable, it is easy to prioritise airlines which offer carbon offsetting. When you arrive at your destination, try to use public transport whenever possible and ideally cycle or walk. After all, one of the main reasons for visiting exotic holiday destinations is to soak up the incredible landscapes available! If you have to use a car, try to cluster activities into only one trip by car instead of multiple errands. Avoid using congested routes and if possible rent a hybrid or electric car.
• Sustainability Credentials: support travel providers and organizations who support sustainable tourism; ask about accommodation providers’ sustainable practices (do they: compost? have low-flow toilets? have a recycling program? harvest any rainwater? consume any renewable energy? support fair trade? have a well-defined environmental policy? etc. In particular in the UK, look for hotels approved by the Green Tourism Business Scheme (https://greenglobaltravel.com/, https://sustainabletourism.net/).
Sustainable tourism got your attention? If so why not check out our favorite top 5 UK sustainable holiday destinations!
• Loveland Farm, Devon: their own vegetables, their own organic meat, award-winning compost loos and the campsite’s energy is being sourced from a recycled woodchip 110 kW biomass boiler and 5 kW solar panels.
• St Cuthbert’s House, Northumberland: support of the local industry to help and sustain local economy (e.g. food, art).
• Bangor’s Organic, Cornwall: an 11 kW wind turbine to generate electricity to the house, organic produce and breakfasts, a free hook-up for electric cars, all in a Soil Association certified bed and breakfast.
• Argyll Hotel, Island of Iona: ethical business with limited impact on the Iona environment ensuring at the same time that the latter will remain intact for the next generations.
• Calgary Self Catering, Calgary Bay: a Green Tourism Gold Award holder that recycles its waste, sources sustainable energy, and keeps their impact on nature to a minimum.