By K. Davila | September 2016
In Honor Of World Tourism Day
Last year's World Tourism Day, happening every Sept 27th, was celebrated with the campaign "One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities". Yes, there are more than one billion people traveling to an international destination every year. That’s 83 million every month! The impact of this industry is a powerful force - especially for developing countries and for the sustainable development of the world.
For sustainability to become a lifestyle, it cannot only be present when it is convenient or trendy. We're all for less talk and more action - so here are just a few resources to help you make a positive impact during your next get away.
Luxury hotel or AirBnb - FIND A SUSTAINABLE OPTION
Do you like receiving a customized itinerary with timings and a packing list from you favorite travel company who organized your dream holidays last year? Or are you more the type of person who books flights online, hires a trekking company at the main plaza in Cusco and stays at AirBnb’s. Perhaps you are a mix of backpacking, glamping and foodie nerd who books everything by yourself, saves a little here and there to then have a treat in a nice hotel or restaurant.
However you like to travel, you can always choose wisely when it comes to your lodging. Here are a couple of our favorite resources when picking an eco friendly place to stay.
- Environmentally Sustainable Hotels - this database of Global Sustainable Tourism Council approved hotels is a great reference although only has a few locations in the US.
- The International Ecotourism Society's list of ecolodges is the perfect resource for those looking for conservation, cultural sensitivity or isolation.
- If you are looking for luxury, here The Good Trade's guide to the top luxury eco hotels around the world, many of them in the US.
RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION
If you are using a travel company, inquire about their in-country suppliers and if they have sustainable practices. Are they paying fair salaries to the porters who will carry your bags during a trek? Do they have environmental policies? Where does all the rubbish of the hotel goes? Do they contribute to any wildlife conservation project of the natural reserve where their lodge is located?
- Responsible Travel has excellent guides for sustainable travel destinations and itineraries all over the world.
- Green Destinations is another go to for ecologically friendly destinations.
- It is important to understand the laws and culture of the places you will be visiting, WikiTravel is a great resource for a variety of information about your destination.
Remember the simple things
We all have seen that classic sign at hotels in which they encourage us to use the same towel during our stay right? Well done (there are many who still don’t even have that) but, is that enough? What about the 15-minute shower you just had in your hotel (considering we spent 10lts of water per minute in average) where many of the population can’t access to clean water? Tourists use an incredible amount of resources, many times more than the locals do in their daily lives.
Visitors contribute in different ways of course, but we can make a difference if we are conscious on our decisions: rejecting that plastic bags that comes with the apple you are buying, refilling your bottle of water instead of buying new ones, visit the village next to the “pristine” exotic beach that is already famous and full of people and support more local people, not buying souvenirs made out from wildlife, it could be made out of an endangered species!
Give back to the community by shopping locally, being kind, learning the culture and customs and being respectful of everyone you meet. If you choose a business that is recognized as sustainable, other businesses will like to follow the same good practices, so you will be contributing in a positive way while enjoying your holiday.