This Earth Day, Practice These Four Sustainable Tourism Tips
From the day you start planning a trip to the moment the airplane wheels touch the ground back home, travelling brings many benefits. Seeing the world inspires us to live more exciting lives and exposes us to new cultures. It helps us open our minds to different opinions, which ultimately enables us to become better global citizens.
On the flip side, we must also recognize the ecological footprint that we leave behind as travellers, from environmental erosion and littering to over-crowding.
If you’ve ever worried about the looming impacts of over-tourism -- that is, travelling to overly congested, popular destinations during their high seasons -- you are not the only one. New global research by Travelzoo confirms that people are very concerned about the environmental impact of over-tourism – and are willing to do their part to take action. Indeed, 65% of respondents said they would be open to vacationing at less busy times of the year, or would participate in activities to counteract the consequences of overcrowding.
In honour of Earth Day on April 22, Travelzoo is sharing our top four tips on how you can do your part to combat the environmental impacts of travel.
#1 Travel in off-peak seasons
Choosing to travel in off-peak seasons will relieve overcrowding in popular destinations and will also benefit local economies by allowing hotels to fill their vacant rooms year-round. Sustainable travellers can also reap benefits from this approach: Travelzoo Deal Experts often find savings of 30-60%, or even more, on trips during off-peak seasons. On top of that, you won’t have to battle a crowd of selfie-sticks to get the perfect view of top attractions, such as the Roman Colosseum.
#2 Get off the beaten path
Travelling to lesser-known spots is one the best ways to give high-demand destinations some relief. Getting off the beaten path will not only be a step towards combatting over-tourism, but it will make for a unique story to bring back home. Embracing undiscovered destinations also spreads tourism dollars to less affluent regions that need it more. For instance, if you are considering a trip to the Greek islands, skip Santorini and head to a lesser-known Greek island instead, such as Naxos or Milos. Check out these 5 places to see now (before the crowds catch on).
#3 Choose the right mode of transportation
Where possible, consider environmentally efficient travel options such as rail and buses. Rail is a smart alternative in regions with strong infrastructures, such as Europe, or between major Canadian hubs like Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City.
There are more and more ways to be environmentally conscious when travelling by air, including choosing airlines that have strong sustainability strategies in place. Last year, Air Canada was named the 2018 Eco-Airline of the Year by Air Transport World in recognition of its multiple environmental efforts -- which resulted in a fuel efficiency improvement of 40% since 1990 -- as well as its investment into alternative fuels.
Voluntary carbon offset fees are now offered routinely by many airlines. Alternatively, you can purchase a carbon offset for your flight through a third party such as TerraPass, often for as little as $10.
When you arrive at your destination, you can minimize your carbon footprint by walking or taking public transportation rather than taxis. Exploring a new place on foot will allow you to take in the sights and smells of local neighbourhoods. You can follow your senses and stop for authentic street food or discover a viewpoint that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
#4 Take only photographs, leave only footprints
You can minimize your ecological footprint by leaving your destination the same way that you found it. Many wilderness preserves are ecologically fragile, meaning small changes may cause large effects. For souvenirs, instead of picking up a sea-shell to tuck into your luggage, consider supporting locally-made artisanal goods.
This Earth Day, consider incorporating these sustainable tourism tips into your next trip, to help protect the worlds most beloved attractions for future generations of travellers.