Eco-friendly, Eco-efficient, Eco-tourist – These buzz words are everywhere and could easily Eco Intimidate travellers all around the world. What do these terms really mean? Bandied frequently within the context of the booming green travel industry (Make no mistake – this is an industry, and a fast growing one at that!), these catchphrases reflect a growing need for leaders of the hospitality experience to listen to the needs of the modern traveller.
To each out of city dwellers who feel the desire for guilt-free green holiday destinations, and to provide them with discerning accommodations in locations where words like “sustainable” and “environment” are proudly printed on recycled brochures, and where travelers arrive feeling responsible, and depart feeling on top of the world, consciences refreshed through the experience of having contributed to a brighter, cleaner and greener world.
The truth of the matter is that the modern traveller has increasingly recognised the importance of environmental conservation in everyday living, and simultaneously seeks to hold the very same standards even while on holiday.
Is it unreasonable to hold these high standards for choices made in daily lives and while on vacation? The modern traveller thinks not.
Is it unfair to practice the habit of religiously recycling at home while knowingly contributing to the ongoing problems of growing waste while on vacation in a host country? The modern traveller knows not.
Educated and well-informed eco travellers feel confident in their right to choose to live their lives knowing that they have recycled, reused and rejoiced in their daily green decisions, no matter where they may be, and these are perhaps the catalysts which have been propelling the growth of global ecotourism.
Among the confusing barrage of terms tossed around the world of eco travel, including green travel, ecotourism, responsible travel, ethical travel, and culturally-aware travel – sustainable travel appears to offer the clearest guidelines, providing black and white boundaries, with less grey (or green) areas up for debate.
The World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable travel as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” – What this means is that if we ultimately want to be able to claim that we did all we could to protect the social and economic environment around us, it allows our children and their families to enjoy what we have now through practices of mindful existence.
The staggering numbers of the business of travel estimate that each day, travellers spend more than US$2 billion in this industry, and accounts for 10.7 percent of the world’s GDP while employing more than 260 million people. With numbers expected to double within the very near future of 2020, these are statistics which certainly encourage us to start blazing the path on our own educational journey, taking steps to becoming responsible and accountable travellers.
Here are some suggestions for the budding eco warrior:
1. Go loco going local!
Choose local products and produce at every available opportunity. By ensuring that your budget, no matter how large or small, contributes towards the community you’re visiting, you will actively be partaking in economically sustainable tourism.
2. Be a traveller, not a tourist.
Respect the cultures and traditions of your destinations and inform yourself of the surrounding history, politics and culture. Embracing our differences encourages others to hold on to what makes and keeps them unique, and we, in turn, have a more authentic and engaging travel experience.
3. Do your homework!
Research when booking flights, transfers and accommodations! Make Google your friend, and don’t be afraid to ask green travel agents for advice on options to offset carbon emissions when flying. Select hotels based on their commitment to sustainable practices. This is how the green movement in the global hotel industry started implementing more ecologically sound practices!
Every trip leaves a footprint in the environment and in the places we visit. Sustainable living is ultimately about having the opportunity to enjoy more meaningful and authentic life experiences, understanding that our decisions make impacts on the people and environment around us, and being mindful of how these choices could collectively create the least amount of environmental damage for future generations to deal with.