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Embracing Sustainable Tourism for a Better World

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Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, accounting for 9% of global GDP. The World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as “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”. In essence, sustainable tourism involves activities that respect and preserve the natural environment, resources, culture, and traditions of a place.

In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development SDG target 8.9, aims to “by 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”. The importance of sustainable tourism is also highlighted in SDG target 12.b. which aims to “develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”.

While there are numerous ways to travel responsibly, it’s important to acknowledge that tourism can never be entirely sustainable. Every industry, including tourism, has its impact. However, as a traveler, you have the power to influence the industry towards greater sustainability. By making conscious choices that support environmental preservation and benefit local communities, you can help ensure that tourism contributes positively to the destinations you visit and allows them to thrive. Your mindful actions can make a significant difference in creating a more sustainable future for travel.

Summary of the difference between Sustainable Tourism, Ecotourism, and Responsible Travel

Ecotourism involves organizing holidays to places of natural beauty in a way that benefits local communities and preserves the environment.

Sustainable Tourism considers the current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts of tourism. It seeks to balance the needs of visitors, the tourism industry, the environment, and host communities.

Responsible Travel refers to the careful and thoughtful planning of trips to ensure a positive impact on the destination, its people, environment, and wildlife.

Opt for Locally-Owned Hotels

Instead of chain hotels, choose locally-owned establishments. This ensures that more money stays within the community, and local management is often more invested in preserving the local environment.

Look for Sustainable Certified Hotels

Finding eco-friendly accommodations is a key component of sustainable tourism. Several certification programs award eco-friendly labels to hotels that meet strict sustainability standards. These certifications help travelers easily identify and choose sustainable options.

One prominent certification program is Green Key, operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), the world’s largest environmental organization. Green Key has been awarded to over 3,000 establishments in 65 countries, assisting individuals in organizing eco-friendly travel. This certification helps travelers identify hotels committed to environmental responsibility and sustainable practices.

In addition to Green Key, other notable certification programs include Green Globe, Travelife, and EarthCheck.

Look for Sustainability Improvements

Many hotels are adopting sustainable practices, which can include:

  • Avoiding single-Uuse Plastics. Look for hotels that use refillable shampoo dispensers instead of plastic mini bottles.
  • Reducing food waste. Some hotels ask guests to request breakfast items instead of offering a buffet, reducing food waste.
  • Using renewable energy. Check if the hotel uses renewable energy sources to power the property.
  • Providing EV charging stations. Hotels offering charging stations for electric vehicles demonstrate a commitment to reducing carbon emissions.



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