The United Nations World Tourism Organisation defines sustainable tourism as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”.
It means sustainable tourism must optimally use environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, and ensure viable and long-term economic operations.
With that in mind, here are 13+ ways to promote sustainable tourism:
13+ Amazing Ways to Promote Sustainable Tourism
Some of the ways we can promote sustainable tourism include:
1. Avoid the Plane or Take Non-Stop Flights
Take-offs and landings cause most of a plane’s carbon emissions, in addition to emitting a lot of heat. As such, try taking express flights to use the least amount of fuel and reduce the plane’s carbon emissions.
If you can, avoid the plane altogether and take the train instead. Not only will it decrease your carbon footprints, but it will also give you more time with your traveling companion and offer you the chance to experience a deeper sense of the places you visit.
2. Go Green
When choosing a hotel for your vacation, prioritize those with recycling programs in place and abide by them.
In addition, in your hotel room, ask them not to change your sheets and towels daily unless necessary. Turning off the air conditioning, heater and electronic gadgets when you leave your room is also recommendable.
You also have to ensure that you travel with reusables like reusable water bottles, travel mugs, a cloth shopping bag for groceries, and containers for leftovers, all the while, avoiding single-use disposables.
3. Spread Awareness on Sustainable Tourism
As informed people with full awareness of how our actions can impact the environment and who understand sustainable tourism, it is our duty to educate others by spreading awareness on the same.
We should lead by example as individuals, groups, organizations, companies and even governments, driving up the awareness to more policymakers, who can enable long-term change on a systematic level.
4. Support Local Restaurants
After traveling to a new place, spend some time in their local restaurants and food joints. Support these small businesses instead of having multiple meals at the hotel you are staying or ordering from food giants.
Supporting local restaurants means you will be sampling locally sourced ingredients, which is an additional way of meeting new people who are enthusiastic about you trying their traditional food.
That means you avoid all-inclusive packages when making a booking as it will force you to pay up-front for your accommodation, food and activities, denying you the opportunity to sample local foods and traditions.
5. Support Legislation that Promotes Sustainable Tourism
We are indebted to this world, and it is up to us to ensure that more is done to protect the planet and its inhabitants, human or not. We should rally behind governments to bring about legislation that protects the environment more and those that promote sustainable tourism.
This support needs to be offered not only at the national but also at the international level. Businesses and persons who do not abide by such legislation and who find loopholes to turn a profit should also be heavily fined by the laws.
6. Buy Souvenirs from Local Stores
When you visit a new place, be sure to support their ventures by buying some of the souvenirs. In doing so, you will promote authentic artisans and their locally handcrafted items. Do not go for purchases that will end up in the trash soon, as well as souvenirs with a larger carbon footprint.
Check for local items that have some sort of value, such as ceramics, art and textiles. In doing so, you will also inject money into the local economy, promoting the people’s work and creating more local jobs.
7. Support the Fight Against Illegal Trade
In addition to purchasing souvenirs from local peoples, support the fight against illegal trade in such areas. Patronize businesses that are not engaged in illegal trade, the exploitation of humans, specifically children, and the looting of artifacts.
For instance, loggers are ravaging Cambodian forests for rosewood for luxury furniture, yachts, pens and cars, among many other valuables, which fetches them upwards of between $7,000 and $15,000 per cubic meter.
Supporting the fight against illegal trade also means not purchasing wildlife products, as it encourages the trafficking of rare and endangered wildlife products as souvenirs
8. Walk Where Possible
Walking is the most basic and convenient way of touring a new place, in addition to reducing your carbon footprint. Get help from tour guides who advise on areas that are safe to walk through, and do so.
Additionally, some animals in the wild are rattled by heavy sounds such as those produced by motor vehicles. Therefore, leave the van at the entrance and just walk to avoid disturbing these animals.
9. Promote Sustainable Tourism with Your Inner Circle
When touring a new place, you definitely will bring your family or friends. Some of them might want to break the rules or not abide by the measures advocated for in this article.
However, you should lead by example and instil sustainable tourist measures in them. Ask them not to bring plastics, to carry sustainable straws, to bring reusable bags, to walk, to be sustainable in their hotel rooms and more.
10. Travel More Locally
There are a lot of advantages to touring your own nation first, vis-à-vis sustainable tourism. It eliminates the necessity of using a plane, lets you rely on public transport or the train, and provides a way to promote local businesses and inject more money into your economy.
You will also learn something new about your nation, fight illegal trades in the tourism industry, inspire yourself and those around you, and become inspired to champion sustainable tourism and related legislation in your own country.
11. Share Your Sustainable Travel Experiences
This is also in line with spreading awareness of sustainable tourism. Share your experiences with your family, friends and those on social media.
The more you talk about how you travel, the more you will reinforce the importance of responsible and sustainable travel. Share these experiences, and you will develop the same interests and responsibilities as someone else.
12. Volunteer to Organizations Fighting the Same Fight
Take your time and give to non-governmental organizations and community tourism projects that are fighting for sustainable and responsible travel. Research volunteering opportunities and organizers with whom your time, money and resources will be of positive impact.
Involve yourself in local projects and community tourism organizations, and this might be a chance to learn something new about local life and practices. Inspiration and much more can also be drawn from such activities
13. Say No to Plastics
Be part of the solution by opting for locally purified water in recyclable glass bottles and carry-tote bags in your luggage that you can use while perusing street shops and markets.
This cuts back on plastic waste and reduces your carbon footprint. It might also be a way to challenge petroleum-based ingredients, which are a staple in manufacturing plastic bags and bottles. In the spirit of avoiding plastics, take part in the fight against the same, which is indeed a global problem.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is literally an island of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean, made up of gazillions of thrown-away plastic bottles and bags. These will take hundreds of years to break down, if ever, and continue to wreak havoc on marine ecosystems.
14. Donate to Sustainable Tourism Businesses and Organizations
There are thousands of organizations and businesses all over the world who are taking the fight for sustainable tourism daily. In addition to volunteering your time to them, donate as much as you can. Financially supporting them will help them continue their efforts towards attaining a greener planet for us all.
For instance, Patagonia is a sustainable clothing and outdoor brand leading the sustainable fashion revolution, 4ocean is a socially and environmentally-responsible business making recycled bracelets from ocean plastic, and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international marine wildlife conservation organization dedicated to tracking down illegal fishing boats and enforcing laws around deep-sea fishing
15. Take Care of Heritage Places
There are thousands of heritage sites worldwide which attract millions of visits every year. Unfortunately, an estimated $6 billion of the world’s cultural heritage is stolen and sold yearly. This, therefore, calls for more people to take care of heritage sites.
Also, ensure that you don’t litter and take your trash with you, do not graffiti, and don’t have your name emblazoned on the walls or caves. And to the millennials, do not take a photo of yourself sitting on these monuments, especially if a sign prohibits it.
These artifacts and monuments are fragile, maybe because of their old age and can be sensitive to the touch of hands, bags or shoes. Take care of these sites so that they are open for more people to view in the future
16. Respect the Practices of Local Peoples
This goes without saying, but do not enforce your practices and beliefs to these locals. When people are praying in churches, mosques, temples or other holy sites, be discreet. Additionally, wear decent clothing when visiting these places and abide by any established dress code.
Do not use vulgar language when with the locals, maybe because they cannot understand your language as it is plain rude. Think before saying anything to them or doing anything before their presence as it might offend them, despite how unoffensive it is to you. Consult the tour guide if it is okay to do or say it before doing so. Above all, leave the place better than you found it.
17. Challenge Yourself to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Once you are on that trail, walk around, especially in the streets closest to your hotel. Get the feel of the local area, promoting their businesses like eating at the local restaurants. Talk to the people, even if it is with the taxi driver and understand what a typical life is like for them. Learn a few words in the local language and use it.
You definitely will get a smile from the hotel staff, street vendors and more local people. Be sure to challenge yourself, take an additional step into your comfort zone and make every trip worthwhile. You will be surprised how much inspiration you can draw from these trips in your later years.
18. Make Sustainable Tourism the New ‘Normal’
Be a responsible and sustainable tourist every time, not only once. Refuse to partake in paid activities that injure, harm or pose potential harm to animals; support local businesses, vendors, shops and indigenous peoples whenever you travel; end and replace single-use plastics with recyclable, reusable or sustainable alternatives; and end fast fashion.
You can also eat at restaurants that source from local, regional and organic farmers, stop and help put a stop to the illegal trade of animals, their goods and products, support eco-tourism and environmentally-conscious tour operators and companies, and reduce or stop the consumption of meat products, especially in areas where meat consumption is rising exponentially due to foreign demand.
Finally, don’t be sustainable in tourism alone, but with all your life. Make it your mission in life to be a sustainable human being.