The year 2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The United Nations declared it with a view to:
“fostering better understanding among peoples everywhere, in leading to greater awareness of the rich heritage of various civilizations and in bringing about a better appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures, thereby contributing to the strengthening of peace in the world”.
Sustainable travel helping to achieve world peace? Sounds great to us!
So how do we travel sustainably? There are three “pillars of sustainability”: economic, social and environmental. This means that to travel sustainably, we must be aware of how our actions have an impact on each destination’s environment, its people and its economic future. There are many ways to achieve this, and it is more a matter of awareness than difficulty. We think of it as doing our best not to leave a negative impact wherever we go, and making a positive contribution where we can. Some ways we will do this are:
Only taking flights for long-haul travel, and using direct flights wherever possible.
- Offsetting the carbon emissions created from our flights and car travel.
- Using overland travel for shorter distances; primarily utilising trains and buses as they take multiple passengers.
- Walk or hire bikes to explore our destinations, and take hiking tours wherever possible.
- Packing minimally to have light luggage being hauled on transport, and less stuff to carry around!
- Supporting the growing number of accommodation options and tour operators which demonstrate excellent environmental and social ethics.
- Volunteering with reputable enterprises dedicated to improving the state of the people, animals or local environment.
Staying with families in home-stay programs, and supporting locally owned businesses, restaurants and craftspeople, to ensure our money goes straight into the local community.
- Paying a fair price to all local vendors and artisans.
- Not creating waste that adds to landfill issues or clogs up rivers and oceans, by taking reusable water bottles, bags, eating utensils, napkins, straws, and menstrual products. Also avoiding plastic packaging wherever possible.
- Protecting coral reefs with our choice of sun protection, as well as not touching the coral or exploring without training and/or a guide.
- Protecting all waterways by not littering and not using personal care products that contain micro-plastics.
- Protecting cultural artefacts and natural wonders by sticking to the publicly-designated areas, not removing or harming anything we come across, and using knowledgable, local guides for exploration of protected areas.
- Being conscious of poaching and unethical environmental practices, to avoid inadvertently supporting them in products like souvenirs. Being especially aware of endangered species in each country to avoid supporting their destruction.
- Researching local customs and beliefs so we can be supportive and respectful to each culture we visit.
- Learning some of the language of each area we visit, to make communication more respectful and meaningful.
- Always asking before taking photos of other people.
Being mindful of our water and energy consumption, just like at home.
- Reporting any exploitation of children, adults, animals or the environment that we may encounter.
- Respecting wildlife in their natural habitats, without disturbing them. We will not feed wild animals, or visit traditional zoos, or support animal shows or rides.
This list can boil down to bring respectful and aware of all people, all animals, and each unique environment. It is not difficult to seek reputable and local options for each activity, and it is not hard to remember our reusable items. It’s simple to fly less and walk more. It’s also easy to learn some new words and get to know people from other cultures. These are best ways to leave the world a better place – with greater connection to our fellow humans.
But you don’t have to choose a home-stay for your next business trip to travel more sustainably: you could offset your direct flight, stay at a hotel that demonstrates environmental awareness, eat in local restaurants and be mindful of your shower length. And on your next family getaway, perhaps you could research the area you’re visiting to learn about their endangered species with your kids, and take a little time to help at a reputable conservation institution together. All of these practices are simply choices you make from being more aware, yet they significantly lower your carbon footprint.
We realise that the more we make a positive impact, and help others become aware of how travel can be supportive, respectful AND enjoyable, the better chance we have to protect our amazing planet and all of its inhabitants. We vow to show you that it can be done, and that travelling and living with sustainability in mind is not a burden; it is a life-enhancing, connective and fun way to be!
For further information about Sustainable Tourism: