Did you know that the United Nations is reporting 1.2 billion international travelers are taking on this big beautiful world every year? This just shows why ecotourism is so important.
That is a stat we can get behind! We love to see as more and more people travel this world experiencing different cultures, stepping out of their comfort zones and making new friends from all different walks of life.
We have a deep respect for the travel industry. As we find ourselves so completely immersed in it we can’t help but appreciate its effects in our world. Not just on a personal but also an economical level as well.
We have made friends from literally all over the world and have become completely immersed in all things travel. With work, school – and as our hobby, we have a great understanding of the importance of TRAVELING ETHICALLY. With sustainability on the rise, it is a wonder why people aren’t bringing this concern towards tourism impacts and making a vow to turn to responsible travel.
Too many people think that sustainable tourism is the responsibility of the government, hotels, and tour companies. We know this isn’t the truth. While tourism companies do have the responsibility to create wholesome travel experiences with eco tours we, as travelers, hold a very similar duty.
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What Is Ecotourism?
You are likely wondering what ecotourism is and “how do I travel sustainably”. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Many people associate traveling sustainably to mean solely the ethical treatment of animals. While this is a great part of it and incredibly important, the concept is much bigger than this.
Ecotourism focuses on environmental, cultural, and animal welfare.
Environmental factors largely come from the over-consumption of materials. While the gas that is used to get around is worth noting and paying attention to, the real concern comes from the massive consumption of single use items. These include water bottles, take out containers, coffee cups, plastic straws, etc.
From a minimalist standpoint, all the useless purchases made while traveling also take a negative toll on the environment. But it’s not only when you’re traveling. “Disposable” straws have gained notoriety in the news and have created a movement against using them. This is a way you can help the environment in your daily life.
Those cotton elephant pants you wear while walking the streets of Bangkok use an astounding amount of resources to make and are likely going to end up in a landfill sooner rather than later.
Every area you visit will have a completely new culture and religion that they hold very close to them. While you may not follow the same thoughts, it is important to consider yourself a guest. Degrading others is not what traveling is about. Instead, using your time abroad to immerse yourself in this culture and gain insight in the why and how behind it can help you to be a much more worldly person.
Animal welfare is incredibly important and perhaps the most talked about area of ethical tourism. It is important to remember that wildlife is meant to be just that: wild. While it may be tempting to get up close and personal with these majestic animals, it leads to a life of slavery for them. The taming practices seen to make these animals suitable for human interaction are incredibly brutal and not worth a simple photo op. It is best to avoid these places to ensure the longevity of these animals.
Social media, specifically Instagram, has greatly threatened our ability to practice ecotourism. This includes everything from the drive to get that “Instagram worthy” picture by releasing lanterns in Thailand to riding elephants in Africa, or taking an insta story of you bargaining down a new shirt for much less than you know is worthy. The impacts of sustainable tourism can be strong and life changing for many.
How Can You Make A Difference?
As we move to a world where more and more people are limiting their plastic use, it is important to remember that just because you are out of your own country and it may be harder to carry around a refillable bottle, it holds the same importance.
For us, when traveling to Southeast Asia we were incredibly uncomfortable with the amount of water bottle consumption happening around us (us included). We thought this was the norm and simply didn’t even know that there was possibly another way. That is until we saw a water refill station outside one of our hotels in Thailand.
It then became apparent to us that the locals weren’t drinking out of these cheap plastic water bottles like all the tourists were.
There is a way to do it, we were just not trying hard enough.
Eco tourism needs to be an active conscious thought while you’re traveling.
It is important to ask yourself whenever you travel how are you making a difference. The tourism sector is amazing for its ability to open your eyes and raise awareness to what is happening in different areas of the world. When visiting there it is important to remember that every dollar you spend is a vote for how you want their economy to run and how you want the world to be. The same is true with your time.
- Volunteering is powerful!
- Enjoying your meals at local small businesses can make a great difference.
- Buying handmade local souvenirs is important.
- Not supporting child beggars and instead helping on ground organizations improve the poverty these kids live in will change lives.
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Sustainable Holidays: How To Make Your Trip More Ethical
The truth is, everywhere can be a sustainable tourism destination if you make it a priority. Beyond the environmental impacts of tourism, there are many other concerns the tourist sector has regarding sustainability issues.
Responsible tourism is no longer an option. You can no longer claim it to be something you just didn’t think of. As a traveler, you have a responsibility to ensure that you are only making positive impacts on the country and culture in which you are visiting.
How do you practice responsible tourism when you are abroad? Talk to us about it in the comment section below! Also, share with your friends! Together, we can make this world a better place!
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