Tourism will never be completely sustainable because is an industry and every industry has impacts, but what we can do is working about becoming more sustainable. As more regions and countries develop their tourism industry, it produces significant impacts on natural resources, pollution and social systems.
The International Ecotourism Society defines Ecotourism as “responsible travel to
natural areas that conserve the environment and sustains the well-being of the local people” . We can quote, more simply, what sustainable lifestyle experts say in the “eco-travel handbook”: «Ecotourists are travelers who love to have fun, not to destroy the environment».
Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, but that mean that it has a lot of impacts, both positive and negative. This impact not only influence the environment but also people’s life.
International tourist arrivals are expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030.The global travel and tourism industry creates approximately 11% of the world’s employment (direct & indirect) in 2014. All these have consequences because we all know that tourism produces real issues, but we have no idea about how big are the problems that we cause by being irresponsible.
Just an example: Leakage in tourism is as high as 80% in the Caribbean (of every dollar earned in tourism-80 cents leaves the country).
These are just one of the most worrying issues that each of us should know (you can have a look here http://www.sustainabletourism.net/ if you want to know other tourism and environmental impacts), because we can’t keep destroying our planet, we can’t keep destroying the others, we can not destroy ourselves just because we have no idea about how dangerous could be our behaviour.
How could tourists seeking to escape from their everyday routine be "responsible travellers"? EASY !
Start with choosing the "right" means of transport. There is no doubt that the greenest way of moving is travelling by train, but when it’s not possible, try , at least, to minimize internal flights! Once at the destination, try public transport, hire a bike or...walk! It won't be so bad! Remember to remove all excess packaging because in many places recycling is tricky, but, you can always bring your environmentally friendly products with you (ex: sun creams, soaps, deodorants). If you are asked to monitor your water usage, do it! There might be very little of it. There are a lot of souvenirs made of endangered plants, so pay attention, and don't forget that animals are bothered by cameras taking pictures. A responsible traveller leaves a positive impact not only on the environment, but also on people. If you want to help the local economy, try the local food, could be the best part of your experience!
You can find, how you can travel without leaving big footprints reading up the principle of Leave No Trace!
Local people and businesses can secure greater benefit from the destination and the heritage attractions. This does not happen automatically; it requires conscious efforts and investment to identify new transport, accommodation, food and drink, retail…
Research has shown that some of the modest occupations in a destination have a massive effect on the visitor experience – taxi drivers and hotel receptionists are crucial in greeting visitors and explaining the distinctiveness of a destination’s cultural and/or natural heritage.
Destinations should create opportunities for local people to establish their own businesses and enter the marketplace.
Do not get too confused in academic, long-term strategic planning – you need to send and establish the credibility of your strategy and management.
Develop systems of law and good practice to prevent the exploitation of anyone through tourism – particularly children, adolescents, women, and minorities. Develop clear rules and regulations for what is expected of the host community and businesses. In many destinations, businesses simply want to know what they can and cannot do.
Tourists can use public transport to travel, like train, or bus, and avoid flying, especially internal flights. However there are some airline companies [DT1] that increase the ticket price in order to compensate the CO2 emissions generated with the flight. People can also hire a bike when convenient, which is a great way to reduce pollution
Also the hotels are engaged to reduce the impact on the environment, and they can certify it with Ecolabel, Green Globe, that are international certifications.
Sustainable tourism is the balance between limits and usage so that continuous changing, monitoring and planning ensure that tourism can be managed. This requires thinking long-term (10, 20+ years) and realising that change is irreversible. Economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development must include the interests of all local communities, visitors, industry and government.