Travel and Tourism is an absolutely huge market that drives 2.9% of the global economy, contributing a whopping USD 6,630.4 Billion in 2013 (WTTC, 2013). Now, 2.9% doesn’t sound like a great deal, but if we consider that this is 2.9% of global economy dedicated to something that is purely for leisure purposes, not something we rely on to live, it is astounding.
When you consider that the UK alone in 2013 received 31.1 million visitors (Tourism Alliance, 2014), and is only ranked 8th in the world for popular destinations, we have to assume that the total number of people heading off on holiday is considerably larger. With so many people travelling the world, is it really possible to change the impact tourism has on the environment?
We think so, as long as people follow some simple steps when acting the tourist.
10 Steps to becoming an Eco-Tourist
Be sure to research to find the most eco-friendly approach to where you are getting. Both Virgin and Airbus advertise eco-efficient planes now, so you can try to pick one that suits your needs.
Upon arrival, don’t take a taxi, and certainly don’t rent a car. Public transport, buses and trains are more environmentally friendly, cheaper and offer you a whole different view of the country you are visiting.
2. Skin Care and Sun Cream
Coral reefs and ocean life is quite sensitive and if you are visiting a beach location, consider limiting the amount of sun cream you use. Even the most waterproof will end up in the sea to some extent when you go swimming. Choose an eco-sunscreen
3. Eat Local
Other than the local food almost guaranteed to taste better, the ingredients for traditional foods can be easily sourced locally, whereas ordering a macaroni and cheese on an Island in Malaysia suggests some of the ingredients have to come some way to get there.
4. Don’t be a Loner
Sharing is caring. If are travelling alone, or in a couple, don’t be afraid to make friends and share. If you insist on getting a taxi or renting a car, find some people doing the same and share it. The same goes for accommodation, don’t be afraid of dormitories, they offer a bed for cheap and reduced electricity.
5. Life in Plastic
Is not fantastic. Plastic is an ocean and environment killer so try to limit how much you pick up and take with you on your trip. If you go shopping, take your backpack instead of taking plastic bags, reuse your plastic bottles, or better yet, take a reusable bottle with you!
Often when you visit exotic countries, you may end up in a situation where you come across wild animals, or even captive animals where you have the chance to interact with them. Our advice...don’t.
Elephants, in Africa and Asia, are a major tourism attraction, but one that you should only consider if contact is kept to a minimum. Elephants you see out in the streets doing tricks or offering rides have been kept in cruel conditions and been put through a, quite frankly, horrible training ordeal to get them ready for tourists. Avoid at all costs
7. Con Air
Or should we say Air con, is one of those luxury things people love in hot countries. The electricity they use is huge, they also pump even more heat outside. Stick to rooms with fans, they are effective and manageable for all circumstances.
Try to avoid using laundry services where you can. Save up your clothes and share with a fellow traveller if you do have to use them. But for a lot of clothes, you can hand-wash relatively easily with much less water consumption.
9. Pack Light
Every extra KG you pack in your suitcase/backpack when heading out of the door is extra weight for the plane, which increases costs and decreases efficiency.
10. Be an Eco Volunteer
There are loads of opportunities to join a project which not only runs sustainably, but also allows you to give something back and contribute to the positive impacts. You can learn, gain experience and be environmentally conscious, all whilst travelling and having the time of your life.