As tourism slowly made a return to the scene after the COVID-19 pandemic subsided, a number of uncertainties have remained, mainly those regarding what tourism should look like in the year 2023.
We’ve grown a lot over the past 3 years, and in doing so, we’ve taken on a much more nature-friendly approach to traveling, mainly due to the realization of just how impactful tourism can be on the local and global ecosystems.
From the high-consumption planes that let out tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every flight to sunscreens that pollute local waters, many things have been uncovered to be unhealthy for the environment.
A number of different tourist destinations have changed the way they deal with these issues, which also begs the question of what you as a traveler can change to do your part, and we’re here to guide you.
The concept of sustainable tourism
Essentially, sustainability refers to leaving as little of a carbon footprint behind us as possible, “as little” is due to the fact it’s impossible to reduce one’s carbon emissions to zero.
At the end of the day, it’s all about achieving some form of a balance between economic growth and responsible treatment of the planet we live on.
Sustainable tourism focuses on reducing the negatives of the travel industry while also making use of all the advantages it has to offer.
This is done by accounting for both the short-term effects of traveling as well as the long-term implications that tourism has on an area or an ecosystem, giving future generations a chance to experience nature as it was decades ago.
Responsible and regenerative travel are two very different things, but seeing as they have a similar end goal, there’s no point in discussing them out of the same breath.
Walk off the beaten path
A lot of highly popular destinations have actually been ruined by tourism, with their own popularity practically destroying thousands of years of culture the place may have had.
Beaches overrun with sunbathers and city squares filled with tourist traps are certainly not a sight you’re expecting to see when you’re traveling to what you expected to be the cradle of a country’s long and rich culture.
Instead, what you can do is actually visit the less popular areas of a country, allowing yourself to experience what most others probably never will while also making a minor contribution to the area’s tourism.
That being said, you shouldn’t hold these experiences for yourself, and sharing them with the world may just be what we need to balance out the tourism across a country evenly, rather than have it all be focused in a single spot.
Take your time
Even though we’re often constrained by the concept of a vacation fairly limited, moving from one place to the other every day isn’t the right way to experience a new culture.
What you should be doing is settling down for a few days and taking your time to really soak in the local language, culture, and architecture, allowing your eyes to adjust to the new sights rather than having them look at new things at an alarmingly fast pace.
By shifting into lower gear, you can truly experience what the place you’re visiting has to offer, and you can even build deeper connections with the locals, creating friendships that may last for a lifetime if you nurture them properly.
A single day spent walking around or cycling without having to worry about packing for the next destination tomorrow will help you experience a city like never before, and that’s what traveling is all about.
Don’t take transport lightly
Pollution is a major issue, one that we don’t have a solid answer for just yet, but there are definitely ways to deal with it on your own.
The travel industry has been a major contributor to climate change, whether you like it or not, but this doesn’t mean you should completely give up on your dream of seeing the world with your own eyes rather than through a computer screen.
Planes and cars are the least efficient modes of transport, but they’re a necessary evil, one that we can’t really live without in this rapidly expanding world.
However, you could make use of the local public transport once you arrive at your destination, and if you’re looking to stay in shape while you’re there, you could also rent a bike to help you get from point A to point B.
Traveling responsibly can be difficult, but it’s not impossible, and even though you’ll definitely need to book a plane ticket to head overseas, you don’t have to contribute to your carbon footprint once you’ve reached your destination.
Keep mother nature in your mind at all times, and whenever you can, make sure you’re not polluting the environment, while also reminding those around you to do the same.