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The importance of Sustainable Tourism

6 mins. read

The world of tourism has undergone significant changes in recent years, and the focus on sustainability has increased. As more and more people seek meaningful and responsible ways to explore the world, sustainable tourism has become a strong movement. It goes beyond being environmentally friendly; it involves the environment, local communities and cultural conservation. In this blog we will discuss sustainable tourism, what it means and how we as travellers and destinations can contribute to a more sustainable future for our planet. We have now understood how sustainable tourism has recently picked up pace. And now let us understand what it actually means.  

Sustainable tourism, often referred to as ecotourism or responsible tourism, is a concept that aims to minimize the negative impact of tourism on the environment and local communities while maximizing benefits. It revolves around principles and practices that focus on conserving natural resources, respecting local cultures and promoting economic growth in an ethical and sustainable manner. To simplify it – Every traveller, local community, person and business must ensure that they are not damaging the environment while travelling and planning for the same. It can be a little confusing or even overwhelming at times. But the importance of sustainable tourism cannot be overlooked. From coral reefs to rainforests, our planet's amazing natural wonders are threatened by environmental pollution. Sustainable tourism helps protect these fragile ecosystems for future generations. 

Many tourist destinations depend heavily on income from tourism. Every vendor who sells snacks, your local drivers, hotel and restaurants, operators of several rides and others. Every single person who is involved in making your tour/holiday possible is dependent on tourism for sustenance. And sustainable tourism ensures that these local communities get their dues. This in turn aims to reduce poverty and promote economic stability. Apart from revenues, travel is also a major contributor to greenhouse gases. Sustainable practices, such as choosing environmentally friendly transport options and reducing waste production, help combat climate change. Tourist flows can sometimes damage local traditions and cultures. Sustainable tourism promotes the preservation of these unique cultural elements. Sustainable travel often leads to more meaningful and authentic experiences. Interacting with local communities and learning about their ways of life can be deeply enriching. To share an example of this, I recall this one time when I was travelling to Assam and Meghalaya in the North-East of India, I visited a village called Mawlynnong. Mawlynnong has been named ‘Asia’s Cleanest Village’. One visit and you understand why! They have a practice of constantly making sure that there is no waste that is littered around. To help their cause, they have installed bamboo dustbins every few meters. There are fines imposed if you are caught littering. The village is immaculate! I wish to see every destination in the world practice this and every traveller becomes a responsible traveller.  

Now that we understand the importance of sustainable tourism, let us know how to become a responsible traveller:  

  1. Plan wisely: Research your destination and choose places and activities that are in line with the principles of sustainable tourism. Choose destinations where environmental protection and community well-being are priorities. 
  2. Travel Light: The pack light reduces fuel consumption during transport. Use reusable containers and bags to minimize waste and avoid single-use plastics. Carry your own containers and bottles.
  3. Choose eco-friendly accommodations: Look for accommodations with environmental certifications or practices, such as energy-efficient appliances, water conservation measures, and waste reduction programs.  
  4. Use sustainable transport: If possible, use public transport, walk or cycle to explore your destination. If you want to rent a car, choose a fuel-efficient or electric car. 
  5. Respect the local culture: Learn about the local customs, traditions and etiquette of the places you visit. Show respect for cultural sites, dress appropriately and ask permission before photographing people.  
  6. Support local businesses: Eat at local restaurants, shop at local markets and buy souvenirs made by local artisans. Your spending directly benefits the local economy.  
  7. Reduce your carbon footprint: offset your carbon emissions by supporting projects that track or reduce carbon dioxide, such as reforestation initiatives or renewable energy projects.
  8. Minimize plastic use: Carry a reusable water bottle and fill it from safe sources. Avoid single-use plastic products and be aware of your plastic waste. 
  9. Conserve resources: Conserve water and energy in your residences by turning off lights and appliances when not in use and reusing towels and sheets whenever possible.
  10. Handle waste responsibly: Dispose of waste properly and participate in recycling and waste reduction programs where possible. Carry a bag to store the waste with you in case you don’t find any dustbins. You can later dispose of the waste in a proper manner. 
  11. Spread awareness: Share your sustainable travel experience and knowledge with others. Encourage friends and family to adopt responsible travel practices. 

By following these guidelines, you can be a responsible traveller and contribute to the growth of sustainable tourism. Remember that small actions can lead to big changes. And if we wish to explore our favourite destinations or want people to visit our native place to experience its beauty, we must work together to create a better avenue for exploring.  

Sustainable tourism is not just a buzzword that is going viral on social media. It is the responsibility of all of us as travellers. By following sustainable travel practices, we can explore the world while preserving its beauty, supporting local communities and mitigating the negative impacts of tourism. Every trip can be an opportunity to leave a positive mark on our planet. So, the next time you plan a tour, think about how you can make it a lasting and enriching experience for you and the destinations you visit. Together we can grow our planet one journey at a time.

October 21, 2023

Author

Ankita Joshi
Ankita Joshi

A history, culture and music enthusiast with tremendous love for travel! My love for writing comes from my love for reading and exploring various topics.

More Blogs by Ankita Joshi

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