Sustainable travel — what is it anyway?

Susanne Queck
Apr 8, 2018 · 7 min read
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Does travel and environmental protection go hand in hand? What does ecotourism mean and what are the benefits? How do I find sustainable travel ? How can sustainable tourism affect local communities?

2017 was the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. You didn’t know that? The UN General Assembly has declared this year to underline the importance of sustainable tourism.

What does sustainable living mean?

People who live sustainably keep their ecological footprint as neutral as possible, i.e. they only consume as many resources as they really need — at least theoretically. Until a few years ago, this still had an eco-sounding touch, which was rather smiled at.

But nowadays people’s consciousness luckily has changed, many have become more tired of consumption and are more aware of their surroundings and environment. This is often referred to as ecological footprint.

The Ecological Footprint is the area of land needed to sustain a person’s lifestyle and standard of living (under today’s production conditions). It is referred to as a sustainability indicator. This includes what we eat, where this food comes from, how we produce waste, how we move around … just to name a few.
You want to know about your own ecological footprint?
Here you can calculate it by answering a few questions.

Conscious lifestyle

Others have adjusted their lifestyles, for example, to avoid unnecessary consumption and pay attention to sustainable products (clothing and food) in their daily consumption. No car is used, transportation is by public transport or CO2-neutral vehicles.

Energy and raw materials are saved as much as possible, whereby the energy consumed comes from renewable sources. Heating is carried out with CO2-neutral materials such as wood or geothermal energy and is eaten seasonally, locally and regionally.

Sustainable tourism makes you happy!
Sustainable tourism makes you happy!

How is travel related to sustainability?

These include:

  • Arrival, departure and transport in the country itself
  • Type of accommodation
  • Dealing with the environment of the visited country
  • Respectful encounter with the inhabitants and the culture of the country

What is what?

Ecotourism focuses on the protection of the environment of the visited country and an ecological approach to transport.

Soft tourism is a responsible use of the human, animal and material resources of the country visited, a type of tourism in which travellers adapt to the customs of the country and not vice versa.

In this sense, sustainable travel means a symbiosis of all measures to protect the earth, people and the environment.

Sustainable travel means compatible travel!

Although nature and landscape should be changed as little as possible or not at all for tourists in the sense of sustainability at the holiday resort, they should have the opportunity to get to know the country intensively and to experience the people and their culture as unadulteratedly as possible.

Organisation of sustainable tourism

The aim of the organisation should be to get from A to B in an environmentally friendly way, to travel around the country in a climate-neutral manner, to eat and drink ecologically and to behave in an adapted and respectful manner.

Let´s get specific

It all starts with the transportation

However, we must not forget that the same number of people would be transferred to a correspondingly large number of cars and the same distance, the emission of pollutants would be about the same.

That is why both flown and driven kilometres are the least compatible for our planet.

What can you do in transportation in particular?

  • General avoidance of long journeys (Does it always have to be Asia? Does it have to be several times a year? Does it always have to be a flight?)
  • Monetary contribution to organisations such as “atmosfair” as compensation for your own contribution to CO2 growth
  • Use of public transport such as trains or buses
  • Abstention from motor vehicles (cycling, running)
ecotourism or sustainable traveling makes you happy
ecotourism or sustainable traveling makes you happy

Sustainable accommodation

Depending on the demands of the tourists, accommodation must neither harm the environment nor change it in such a way that it or the people living in it are permanently harmed. Attention should be paid to where and with what means the accommodation was built and what materials were used.

Organic hotel or local host?

The range of accommodation is endless: from the simple bamboo hut to the family Alpine guesthouse to the equestrian farm and much more. Many companies now receive state quality seals or economic test seals if they meet certain requirements. Travel and environmental protection are also easily reconciled in accommodation.

I introduce three ecofriendy hotels around the world for you.

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Sustainable Eating

The cuisine of the country involved is always a culinary challenge. So why would anyone think of eating tagliatelle in China and ostrich meat in Austria?

Travel and environmental protection therefore also mean doing without long transport routes for the import of food. Of course this also applies to drinks: In India I drink Singha Beer and not Sauvignon Blanc.

It is a great financial benefit for local farmers when guests buy and taste their products. This leads to nice conversations, maybe an exchange of experiences about the preparation of the food and in the end even nice friendships. This is also part of ecotourism.

Sustainable Tourism: Culture and Activities

But it is also part of gentle tourism to accept and respect the differences in foreign culture. For centuries Europeans have made the mistake of making other peoples happy through forced missionary work.
This mistake should never be repeated: Travelling is much more enjoyable and goes much deeper when you put yourself back for a short time and immerse yourself in a new colourful world.

Who needs a taxi if you have shoes?

ecotourism or sustainable traveling make you happy
ecotourism or sustainable traveling make you happy

So what are the benefits of ecotourism?

Sustainable travel therefore benefits not only the environment and the people of the host country, but above all the guest.

Sustainable travel makes you happy!



Originally published at Wunderlander.

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