The environmental impact of tourism is growing steadily. Every traveller can contribute to sustainable tourism. Below you can see my tips to minimise environmental deterioration and make your travels beneficial for the local population and for yourself.
1. Pay CO2 Compensation when you travel by Plane
Air travel causes a huge amount of CO2 emissions and everyone who travels by plane is responsible for part of those emissions. On several websites, (e.g. Climate Austria) you can calculate the CO2 emissions associated with your flight and compensate for them with a voluntary contribution. This donation will be used for environmental projects. The amount of CO2 that was emitted on your responsibility will be saved somewhere else thanks to your contribution. If you can afford a plane ticket you should also be able to afford paying the compensation – or at least part of it.
2. Avoid all inclusive Resort Hotels
Have you ever thought about what happens with all the leftovers at breakfast or dinner buffets? We all know that the food will be thrown away but by not thinking about it we just ignore it. Is it really necessary to have this huge choice of food? By booking a small family-run bed and breakfast, a hostel or an AirBnb you reduce your environmental impact.
3. Book certified Green Hotels
There is a number of certifications awarded to eco-friendly hotels. Some of them are used globally, others per continent or country. Whenever you travel somewhere check which labels and certificates are used in the country and book an eco-friendly hotel.
4. Buy local Products
One way to support the local community is to buy souvenirs and products that are locally produced. By doing so you will support the local economy and the locals’ employment. Avoid buying “Made in China” souvenirs.
5. Do not do any Activities where Wildlife is used as an Attraction
The best example we all know are probably the tigers in Thailand that tourists can take photos with. These tigers are drugged to stay calm and they are spending half of their life in a cage and the other half with tourists posing for pictures. A happy life is the opposite.
6. Save Resources
Avoid plastic bags or reuse them.
Don’t waste water, especially in dry countries. The more water is used by tourists the less is often left for the needs of local inhabitants.
7. Respect the local Culture
This one doesn’t have to do with eco-friendliness but it’s important nevertheless. Don’t behave the way you are used to, it might offend locals. For example in a strict Muslim country don’t walk around in shorts and a crop top but cover your shoulders and knees.
These are only a few suggestions for decreasing your negative impact and they can be easily applied by each traveller. Raising awareness and education about the environmental impact caused by tourism is an important first step and tourists can do a lot to improve it. The higher the demand for green tourism organisations, the more companies will adjust to the demand!