Everyday, more and more people are willing to venture out of their comfort zones to travel. Whether it’s a small trip with friends or a big round the world “I’m flying to Asia” kind of trip, there is no doubt that traveling can change you. Collectively, Tom and I have been traveling for about 4 years now. Looking back, we can see how much traveling has changed us, and how we have also changed the way we travel.
Nowadays, we are a lot more conscious about HOW we travel and WHAT we promote. Why? Well the fact that you’re reading this blog post says it all. As travel bloggers, we get to influence people based on our recommendations and the things that we do, which is why we have made a commitment to support sustainable tourism.
What is Sustainable Tourism?
Now I know what you’re thinking. What is sustainable tourism and why is it so important? Sustainable tourism is a word that although is being used more and more, people still don’t know what it means. In layman’s terms, sustainable tourism is a practice of being more aware of how your travel impacts the environment, the socio-cultural, and economic development around you.
Are you conscious about how these tours that you go on affect the locals living in the community and the environment around you? Are you aware of the environmental footprint that you make? Admittedly, when we first started traveling, we gave little thought to this as we would just go on any tour which fit into our budget. However, the more we traveled, the more we realized that irresponsible and ignorant tourists fuel cruel and exploitative industries. Elephant shows, tiger kingdoms and other tourist traps that end up exploiting people.
Sustainable Tourism Means:
- Taking the time to research the company you are touring with
- Checking how that specific activity affects the environment
- Making an effort to respect local culture
- Support local industries to help build their economy
Tourism is everything good and bad that can happen to a place. Take into account the legendary full moon parties in Kho Phangan, Thailand. Every month, people flock to this party destination to party to have fun and let loose. Yes, it sounds amazing but have people actually stopped to think of how these full moon parties are making an impact on the environment? What’s happening there now is appalling and is something that everyone must think of before joining.
Tom and I have always been advocates of going the extra mile to interact with locals as we believe this gives you a much better understanding of the culture of the place you are in. Whether it’s speaking to locals who work in the restaurants, or hanging out with local vendors, we know that if we really want to get to know a place, going local is the way to do so. Through the years, we’ve also learned the importance of researching the tours and companies that we choose to work with. In Asia, so many tour companies exploit animals and locals for money. You know those elephant rides which are so popular, did you know that in order to get them tame enough for human interaction, elephants are often beaten into submission beginning at a young age? Elephants are mistreated and tigers are being drugged up all in the name of human entertainment.
Why is Sustainable Tourism Important?
Every day, whenever Tom and I are in a new place, I am constantly in awe of the beauty around us. Each experience brings us to a deeper understanding of the world and culture of different people. Every place that we have been too has been amazingly unique and the thought of these places being ruined by mass tourism and overdevelopment saddens me. Previously, because we weren’t as aware and conscious of sustainable practices, we would only book tours based on the price, not knowing that sometimes, these tours exploit locals and have grave impact on the environment. So through the companies that we choose to partner with and the awareness of what we do, we have made a commitment to focus on promoting sustainable and responsible tourism, not just for us but for the future generation as well.
Support sustainable tourism and places that are paradise on earth will remain like that for years to come!
What Can You Do to Help
Although you think surely one environmentally conscious tourist won’t make a difference, trust us, it can. By doing simple things like researching a company before hand, making sure that they are doing their part to offer ethical and environmentally friendly tours, you are already making a difference. We have recently partnered up with Large Minority, a company that offers these amazing adventure challenges around the world (think: tuk-tuk driving across a country) and one of the things we love about them is their dedication to giving back to local communities from every person that joins their challenges. Supporting companies like this, and boycotting companies who have little regard for ethical practices is one of the biggest things that you can do as a tourist.
Other basic things like bringing recyclable bags and refusing to take straws also help minimize trash while you are on the go. When we are on the beach (even if we are swimming), if we see trash littered around, we make it a point to pick them up and disposing of them later on.
When dealing with tours that involve animals, be weary and make sure that you take the time to look into how these animals are treated. Take a stand and don’t be an ignorant traveler. We travelers are privileged to be able to travel and see the world around us so let’s do our part in making sure that we preserve and take care of it as best as we can.