A recent survey conducted by National Geographic discovered that 42% of travellers would be willing to prioritise sustainable travel in the future, but only 15% of these knew what sustainable travel actually meant.
This raises the questions, can you travel sustainably? Or are these two terms completely contradictory?
In reality there is a fine and often porous balance between the tourism and adventure industry, and the local environment where they operate. Whilst more travellers to an area can have a detrimental impact to the local environment, if not managed correctly, the investment that is generate is vital to support the needs of the local community. 1 in 10 people across the globe are employed in the tourism industry, and it is often the lifeblood to communities across the globe.
So how can we continue to travel whilst being mindful of our environmental impact?
The elephant in the room with most international travel is the flight. This is often 80% of a trip's carbon footprint, and 2% of all global carbon emissions come from aviation. Currently there is little in the near-term to reduce the impact, for instance carbon offsetting has long been seen as a weak argument to counteract the damage of air travel.
Putting the onus back on the consumer is key. What can we actually do?
A good starting point is Impact Travel Alliance, a site that offers online resources and events to encourage travellers to make more responsible decisions.
The NOW Alliance for Good is a website that allows travellers to book stringently vetted sustainable hotels, perfect for those looking to ensure their money is spent with companies leading the way in sustainable hospitality.
It is also always worth checking if your accommodation is certified by the Global Sustainable Travel Council and actively measuring their food waste, which is the second-largest contributor to our carbon footprints when we travel.
And don't forget...
The flight impact is the same whether you stay for two nights or twenty? If you can, why not stay a little longer and allow more money to trickle into the local economy. Also, do you need to fly? Fantastic destinations are now within reach of train, and to a certain extend cars (especially hybrid one!). This approach could be much more sustainable than taking multiple flights each year.
We hope you have a great time traveling this year, if you can!