what is sustainable tourism and when did it start?
what is sustainable living?
In recent years, we have seen an increasing consciousness about the environmental footprint we leave on this planet, as a response to all the consequences our past and current actions have on the environment surrounding us. It is undeniable the impact we have had on this world, and the necessity to change it soon, and that is where sustainable living comes into play.
What is sustainable living, you may ask? Well, living sustainably consists of the actions we take in our day-to-day lives in order to reduce our environmental impact to a minimum, either by eating a sustainable diet, sustainable tourism, finding ways to reduce waste, consuming fewer things we don’t need… There are many options for us to choose from when it comes to living a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle.
We will be talking about a few ways you can do so right now from the comfort of your own home because achieving a sustainable lifestyle is not hard at all, all you have to do is to have the interest and care to just start changing your actions.
In conclusion, a sustainable lifestyle is one that aims to reduce our environmental footprint on this planet, a world that we are sadly destroying with our careless actions every day and one that we cannot ever replace. We highly recommend that you first check out How To Have A Sustainable Diet At Home.
what exactly is sustainable tourism? why is conventional tourism bad?
Sustainable Tourism is defined as the type of tourism that cares for the environment, avoids highly polluting and impacting activities, for the socio-cultural identity of the place of destination, and the correct development of the regions visited.
According to the UN, sustainable tourism is a „Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities”.
You now know what sustainable tourism is, but, why is conventional tourism bad and why does it have to be changed? Well, these are 5 of the reasons conventional tourism is bad and needs to be changed:
- Tourism can oversaturate the place of destination, with too many people going to a single spot of the earth in a given season of the year, the destination can be easily oversaturated, with all the socio-economic and environmental impacts that this has on the receiving counterpart.
- It can cause resource overconsumption, tourists are famous for spending a lot of money on the place destination, staying in wonderful hotels, and partying all night. Although this is great for the tourist, it can lead to overconsumption of essential resources like water that the local population may not have easy access to.
- It leaves an enormous environmental footprint, to practice tourism people need to get to the place of destination in the first place, which, with our current methods of transporting, leaves an enormous environmental footprint on this planet. We are not saying you should travel riding a horse, especially overseas, but only that you should take in mind the environmental impact of getting to your destination and using that information in a rational way.
- The socio-economic impacts of tourism, this activity also has some quite deep social and economic impacts in the receiving part of tourism, and these impacts are not always positive. For example, it can make the locals have to move from their place of residence to make room for the new tourist infrastructures that are needed to hold the tourists that come in. Although this is not necessarily bad as it provides a more dynamic economy for the tourist receiving regions, and as long as you are contributing to the local economy and wellbeing of the locals (for example, by buying from local markets) you do not have to worry that much.
- The cultural implications, tourism can have great impacts on the local culture, making the tourist receiving regions adopt the western culture and food in order to please tourists. This is not only bad for the locals in a tourist destination, as they are losing their true identity, but also for the tourist who travels to learn about other cultures and ways of life.
Overall, conventional tourism has quite some cons that could be worked on, the most important obviously being its environmental impact. This is why sustainable tourism is a thing and why you should learn more about it if you are planning on going to a tourist destination anytime soon.
Now that you know why conventional tourism needs to be changed, now we will talk a little about when Sustainable Tourism started to give it a little bit of context and then what you can do to travel more sustainably, so, let’s go.
when did sustainable tourism start?
You know something about sustainable tourism now, but, what is its history? When did sustainable tourism start? We can trace back eco-tourism to the 90s and early 2000s when sustainable tourism became a more eco-friendly substitute for mass tourism the world was used to. It also came as an alternative that benefited local communities and the environment, creating the concept of ethical tourism.
In 2002, the World Tourism Organization launched a Sustainable Tourism program with the objective of assuring a fair development of the tourist receiving nations and the correct sustainable development that will assure the wellbeing of future generations to come.
As you can see, sustainable tourism is quite recent and it has evolved a lot from its original roots, and it still has a lot of room to evolve for the better. Now that you know this, let’s review what you can do in your own vacations so you can travel more sustainably.
how to do sustainable tourism | travel sustainably
How do travel sustainably? That is the true question, and it is not as hard to answer as you may think. Having said this, here are some tips to practice sustainable tourism with respect for the environment and the local destination:
- Support for the local economy, this is a crucial step for the correct development of the places of destination. Always try to visit and buy from local markets and businesses, and don’t be afraid to give tips (except in the countries where that can be offensive), the goods and services can be very cheap in some locations, and even a small tip can make someone their day or even week. The main takeaway is that if you are going to visit a destination where the locals welcome you, you might as well contribute to their development and wellbeing.
- Do not pollute unnecessarily, we haven’t figured out a way to conveniently move across continents of countries in a fully eco-friendly way yet, but there are better options than others to choose from. It’s the same for when you are in the place of your destination, you should not contribute to unnecessary pollution either, always try to choose the greener option and (this is a no-brainer) DO NOT EVER LITTER, many people still haven’t figured this out yet so feel free to call out others for this childish practice.
- Research tourist destinations that are close to you, we know going to the Maldives can be a very tempting trip you want to be having, but have you looked into all the options that you have at your disposal and are closer to you? You may find better options that you didn’t even think about that do not require such a long (and fuel-consuming) trip, saving you a lot of money and reducing your carbon footprint. We are not saying you shouldn’t go to the Maldives ever, but you may be surprised about other tourist destinations close to you that you did not even know about.
- Don’t touch it! this is a very common phrase written by many touristic monuments and structures worldwide, but it applies to many other aspects of tourist destinations. You should not touch, enter or interact with places or objects you are not allowed to, and you should call out anyone that tries to as not everyone seems to understand this simple phrase. You should also not venture out in places you are not supposed to be, like into the woods where you can get lost and disturb the local fauna.
- Don’t stress out, traveling can be the bread and wine of many people, the energy of life, you should not turn it down completely in order to have the minimum impact possible. Just think that by reading about how to travel more sustainably, just by reading this article, you are doing more than 99% of the conventional tourists. You should not be afraid of traveling, this can be a very pleasing and memorable experience, you should just follow a few simple rules in order to reduce your environmental and socio-economic impact.
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We hope you have learned a lot about sustainable tourism and how to travel more sustainably wherever you go. One important thing to remember is to not completely ditch travel, this is an experience that makes many people’s lives, and you should not abstain from it, as it can also benefit you in many other intellectual ways. If you follow our simple and straightforward tips, you can make sure to have as the green of an experience as you can have. Good luck with your next destination!
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