According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals grew by a remarkable 7% in 2017 to 1,322 million last year. This strong momentum is expected to continue this year. This may not come as a surprise since travel is more accessible than ever. Travellers are spoilt for choice when it comes to airline carriers and hotels, and as such, prices remain competitive. Currently, Hostels.com boasts over 35,000 hostels in 180 countries, and Airbnb has 4 million listings on their site. So the question is, how do we ensure that tourism can be maintained long-term without causing harm to natural and cultural environments? Inspired by The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World, here are 10 sustainable travel tips to help minimize the negative impacts of tourism.
Seeking vacation ideas? How about your own backyard? By traveling by train, bus, or as a group in a car, you’ll produce up to 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and even create local jobs!
Try to fly less often, or consider driving for short trips. If you’re flying, opt to fly non-stop and in coach when possible, and buy carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are available through some airlines, else you can buy them from other organizations. Head here for more on this topic.
Buy only from companies that have sustainable practices and don’t harm the environment. Good On You recommends Dorsu and No Nasties for great basics that are perfect for travel. They also have 3 more tips to pack an ethical suitcase here. If you’re traveling in the summer or to beachy location, opt for Indosole instead of Havaianas. Buy goods with minimal packaging. Invest in a refillable water bottle and coffee cup.
Don’t print your boarding pass or hotel reservations. When checking in, pull it up on your phone instead. Decline paper receipts from establishments.
In the United States, about 67% of total electricity generation was produced from fossil fuels in 2016². Travelers can save electricity by turning appliances off completely when not in use. An obvious example is to turn off the lights and AC or heat when you’re leaving your accommodation. But you should also turn off your computer, and all appliances including microwaves, kettles, etc. Hang your towels or otherwise indicate that you don’t need them changed daily. Bring your own toiletries regardless if you’re staying in a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb.
Want to take home souvenirs or experience a new country through their food? By supporting neighborhood businesses, you’re helping keep people employed, and preventing trucks from driving far distances. When at a restaurant and ordering seafood, be sure to ask if they serve sustainable seafood. Download the Seafood Watch app to locate or share businesses that serve sustainable seafood. Bring your own bag when you shop, and pass on plastic bags.
Walk On The Earth
Bike, walk, or take public transport when you can. Save car trips for when you’ve got a big group. Many cities now have bike-sharing programs which make it easy for tourists to rent bicycles!
Outsite Zero-Energy property in Santa Cruz Hotel managers, Airbnb hosts, hostel owners, you also have a part to play!
Make sure your establishment has energy efficient heating and cooling technology. Replace old appliances with energy-efficient models and light bulbs. Install solar panels if possible (it will also help reduce your electricity bill!). Adjust the thermostat to be lower in winter and higher in summer. Add a carpet or rug -- it will help keep your accommodation warm. Let your towels and bedsheets dry naturally instead of using a dryer. As well, make sure the load is full when running the washing machine.
Stop issuing paper receipts and send them by email instead. Outfit bathrooms with towels instead of paper.
Have recycling bins for paper, plastic, glass & aluminium as well as composting bins available for your guests. Make sure your establishment practices this as well. At Outsite, sustainability is one of our 4 key beliefs. Our locations are close to nature so we feel we play an important role in keeping it beautiful for everyone to experience – including future generations. We provide bikes and most of our guests use car sharing services or public transportation. Our coffee, tea and condiments are always organic and we are proud to partner with Patagonia Provisions, a leader in sustainably sourced foods. Of course, there’s more we could be doing, and we are currently performing an audit of our sustainability practices. We want to make sure that we do not buy from merchants who engage in harmful ecological practices, and we hope you do too!
²U.S. Energy Information Administration