written by Betty Nguyen
Sustainable tourism — bringing global awareness to travel and putting it into action — is a top priority for the United Nations this year. The organization has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
According to the U.N.W.T.O., sustainable tourism has the following principles for hotels, tour operators, airlines and cruises (as well as destinations and tourists):
- Environmentally friendly practices like minimizing the use of plastic;
- Protecting natural and cultural heritage; and
- Supporting local communities by employing local staff, buying local products and engaging in charity work.
As a founder of Nomoon, I strongly believe that sustainable travel needs more attention. Most travel companies ignore this idea by encouraging mass tourism – not focusing on local businesses, native culture, or traditions.
Sustainable travel doesn’t just preserve the natural environment so that future tourists can benefit, it preserves the environment so that it meets the current and future needs of the local community and funds conservation.
How to Travel Sustainably
A key aspect of sustainable travel is choosing your destination, accommodations, and/or your travel company.
Many popular destinations are known for the negative effects travel has on the local culture and environment. While there may be a handful of vendors offering sustainable options in these destinations, it can be difficult to separate them from the rest.
A few things to consider:
- Eco-friendly and locally-owned accommodations
- Local cuisine at locally-owned restaurants
- Locally-owned transportation
- Handicrafts made by locals for souvenirs
- Businesses donating to charities and local communities
Travelling sustainably does require research on the part of the traveller into both the destination’s offerings and the business practices of those offerings.
If you have any questions regarding sustainable travel, let us know.