What is green also called sustainable tourism?
Is it the same as green tourism? What can we do to travel sustainably? Who delivers on the promise of sustainable tourism? What is the prospect of better or worse in the coming years? We cover these issues in this and other articles on traveltalk.travel.
Sustainable tourism refers to a form of tourism that takes into account the environmental, social, and economic impacts of travel, with the aim of minimizing negative effects and maximizing positive ones. It involves responsible travel practices that conserve natural resources, protects biodiversity, supports local communities, and promote cultural heritage. The overall goal of sustainable tourism is to ensure that future generations can enjoy the same or better travel experiences as we do today. And of course in doing so, protect nature in the sea and on land, animals, and plants. It all has to live in a balanced ecosystem, not destroyed by humankind.
Green tourism is often used interchangeably with sustainable tourism, but it specifically focuses on the environmental aspect of sustainability. Green tourism emphasizes practices that reduce the carbon footprint of travel, promote energy and water conservation, encourage waste reduction and recycling, and support eco-friendly accommodations and transportation.
How do we travel sustainably?
To travel sustainably, there are several actions individuals can take:
Choose eco-friendly accommodations: Look for hotels or resorts that have implemented sustainable practices such as energy-efficient systems, waste management, and the use of renewable resources.
Support local communities: Engage with local businesses, artisans, and tour operators to contribute to the local economy. Respect local customs and traditions and learn about their cultural heritage.
Minimize environmental impact: Practice responsible waste management, conserve water and energy, and avoid activities that harm wildlife or ecosystems. Use public transportation, walk, or bike when possible to reduce carbon emissions.
Respect cultural and social values: Learn about the customs and traditions of the destinations you visit and be respectful of the local communities way of life. Support social initiatives and local organizations that aim to improve the well-being of the community.
Educate yourself and others: Stay informed about sustainable tourism practices and share your knowledge with fellow travelers. Encourage others to travel responsibly and make sustainable choices.
The responsibility for delivering on the promise of sustainable tourism lies with various stakeholders, including:
Governments and policymakers: They can establish and enforce regulations and guidelines for sustainable tourism practices. They can also invest in infrastructure and initiatives that support sustainable tourism development.
Tourism industry: Tour operators, hotels, airlines, and other travel-related businesses play a crucial role in implementing sustainable practices. They can adopt eco-friendly policies, promote responsible behavior among tourists, and support local communities.
Travelers: Individual tourists have the power to make sustainable choices. By selecting responsible travel options and being mindful of their impact, they can contribute to sustainable tourism practices.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community groups: These organizations work towards protecting the environment, promoting social justice, and empowering local communities. They often collaborate with governments and the tourism industry to advocate for sustainable tourism and ensure its implementation.
The prospects for sustainable tourism in the coming years depend on various factors. On one hand, there is growing awareness and concern about environmental issues, which has led to increased interest in sustainable practices. Many destinations and businesses are making efforts to embrace sustainability and cater to environmentally conscious travelers.
Huge challenges are yet to be solved
However, challenges remain. The tourism industry is vast and complex, and not all players prioritize sustainability. Mass tourism, especially in popular destinations, can strain local resources and create negative social and environmental impacts. Additionally, climate change and other global challenges pose threats to many tourist destinations. A very good example is Boracay in the Philippines, a beautiful island, that was subjected to mass tourism, beach parties, no real waste policy, etc. The government to its praise closed down the island for ca. 6 months and reopened with a much greener and more responsible profile. In this case, green travel and profit went hand in hand. Nobody wants to spend a fortune to visit a pristine destination to find out the water is polluted, and the reefs are dying. That may be one of the hopes for many countries and travel destinations. In Europe, long before the green wave, Mallorca took a similar step to move from mass tourism to become the exclusive and sustainable island it is today.
The future of sustainable tourism?
The future of sustainable tourism relies on the collective effort of governments, the tourism industry, travelers, and local communities. By continuing to raise awareness, implement sustainable practices, and make responsible choices, we can work towards a more sustainable and responsible tourism industry. It has to happen.
Relevant links to Sustainable travel and tourism