What is sustainable tourism? Sustainable travel is about traveling and connecting with local people and local cultures, minimizing our impact on the environment, and growing local economies. It is about growing peace through understanding. The UN had declared 2017 the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. It was an entire year dedicated to reminding us that tourism just isn’t about seeing the sites …
Sustainable Tourism: What Does It Mean?
Sustainable tourism or sustainable travel means traveling with a sustainable mindset. By traveling thoughtfully and minimizing the negative impacts on the environment, economy and culture, we can make a difference in each other’s lives no matter where we are in the world.
“Sustainable tourism minimizes the negative impacts on the environment, economy and culture that mass tourism can destroy. But, this is an overarching umbrella term for all sorts of things both the traveler and tourism providers can aspire to.”
I am proud of my role as a 2017 Ambassador of Change to support #IY2017.
As I have said in earlier blog posts, sustainability in travel sounds both unsexy and hard to do. It sounds like work, and the exact opposite of what most vacation for.
But if you are the type that loves to get out and experience the world, you probably already are a part of the sustainable travel movement.
How can sustainable travel add value to your vacation?
Let’s Break Down Sustainable Tourism:
Is sustainable tourism and ecotourism the same?
No. Sustainable tourism is the umbrella term for this travel niche and also includes:
- responsible, community-based, and ethical tourism,
- measures that boost local economies,
- and conservation or ways to protect the environment. This is ecotourism, which focuses on reducing environmental harm that tourism can cause in a destination.
Ecotourism has become an advertising hook for many travel providers, hotels, tour companies and the like. The trick is to determine which is valid and that which is just “green-washing”. Some positive measures stand out:
- What is the accommodation’s garbage disposal/recycling policy?
- Do they provide glass refillable water bottles rather than plastic?
- Do they compost food wast?
- Where do they source their food? Is it organic and from their own or a local farmer’s garden?
- What is the energy source that powers the place you stay? Is it renewable (ie: solar, wind or water powered?)
This one is a grass-roots effort mainly by the local people of a rural or remote area.
- The idea is they invite travelers to be a part, for a short time, of their way of life.
- It can include accommodations and tours developed and staffed by the local population.
- The income generated by these projects improve and preserve their way of life which otherwise may become extinct.
- There are some great companies that provide support to these efforts that help contribute to the solution through education, land leases, and luxury lodgings that bring commerce to the area.
Ethical tourism focuses on minimizing negative impacts of tourism through awareness of human rights and the environment.
- This an include knowing where your souvenirs are sourced.
- It can be an organization that supports endangered women or street children.
- A shop where I buy some of my pieces for travel in India in NYC, for instance, sources its beautiful hand-embroidered tunics from a coop in a poor Indian community for at-risk women with no other family.
- A foundation in Vietnam teaches street kids a skill for employment through its noodle shop.
Responsible tourism is tourism that minimizes the negative impacts on the environment, economy and culture and adds positive value to the lives of those you visit.
- It is incumbent on the traveler to have “good manners” when visiting the home of others (just like Mom taught you). For instance, learning a few words of greeting or local phrases goes a long way to building bridges. Working with an interpreter can go even farther! For more ideas, see my blog on Responsible Tourism here.
And a traveler can be aware not only of what they do but what they support as well with their money:
- It can bring an income source to a local community through work at an accommodation. Even better, that accommodation may be run by the local community!
- A “cottage industry” is an extremely local and authentic endeavor. Through social enterprise, a woman can use her skills in cooking or craft classes or demonstrations, make handicrafts for markets or run a business like a bike rental shop for tourists. If the women of a community are empowered and have income sources, their children thrive as well.
Responsible Tourism is the wave of the present and future that preserves wonders for future generations. Click To Tweet
I like the term “responsible travel” because it makes me feel it is something I can actually do. And, moreover, it points to the way I, and many of my clients, like to travel- like a local, with access to culture, unique experiences, and a sense of adventure.
Is Luxury Travel the Exact Opposite of Responsible Travel or Sustainability?
That depends on how you define luxury.
True, in the past “luxury” meant superyachts and private planes. Today, luxury is more defined by customization of the travel experience; a journey is personal when designed with your interests at its core.
The luxury traveler wants greater access to authentic travel done very well.
The bonus: the commerce you bring to locales in thoughtful ways creates meaningful impact.
Focused on High Design, Super Comfort, and Impact in the Locale: Sustainable Luxury Hotels in Exotic or Exciting Locations
Luxury sustainable hotels help to conserve environments by eco-friendly construction and practices, and by creating preserves; they are preserving the locals’ ways of life through community projects, education and employment. Check out our blog post about travel for good: sustainable hotels to stay here.
At Enlightened Journeys Travel, it is my mission to help my clients #TravelforGood – good for them through handcrafted luxury travel itineraries for immersive journeys of a lifetime in comfortable world travel, and good for the luxury travel destinations they visit.
If you’d like to have more ease in your travel planning, I’d love to help!
You can stay informed and inspired in planning your travel in 2018 by reading more of my blogs. You can also follow me on Facebook. Twitter @enlitndjrntrvl, and Instagram @enlightenedjourneystravel. Sign up to receive the blogs and a newsletter filled with more insights and offers so you don’t miss a thing.