Green Vacations – Sustainability in the summertime

Spring has gone, and summer is coming on…

There are few exams left and you are already thinking where to spend the weeks ahead, right? Maybe visiting an European capital, maybe an on the road-trip, or maybe you will spend the summer in your hometown! Whatever you choose, relax but not on the environmental impact you will may have.

We all know that flights have not become less harmful, however they are the best option to cover long distances. Also, even if we plan to stay home we will likely hit the road many times during this summer, which means using the car. So how to have a green vacation and minimize our carbon footprint?

Let’s follow some principle by The International Ecotourism Society:

  • Be considerate of the communities and environment you visit.
  • Don’t litter.
  • Try to avoid excessive waste and the use of plastic bottles
  • Reduce energy consumption.
  • Conserve water. Take shorter showers… the average hotel guest uses over 300 litres of water per night! In a luxury hotel it is approx. 1800 litres!
  • Do not purchase or eat endangered species (e.g. turtle egg soup, crocodile handbags). Choose sustainable seafood
  • Support the local economy. Buy locally made souvenirs, eat at local restaurants – enjoy the local culture!.
  • Take public transport. Or if you must rent a car – why not a hybrid or electric one if available?
  • Ask your travel provider (tour operator, travel agent) about the company’s environmental and responsible tourism policies – support those who support responsible tourism.
  • Support local organisations – either in the place you visit or where you live

But what exactly is Ecotourism”?

We can think about it as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” Combining outdoor experiences and environmental responsibility, ecotourism offers a solution to provide funds for ecological conservation and for the development of local communities. Moreover, it improves people concern for the environment and their responsibility towards it!The most common destination suggested by “green tour operators” are cultural heritage or places where flora, fauna are the primary attractions and income generators for the locals.

What about some statistics?

The tourism industry represents approximately 9.5% of total global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014, and it is a growing sector as the number of travelers is expected to reach 1.8 bilion by 2030; so far we can estimate that ecotourism accounts for the 15% of this market.  The leading country is Costa Rica where approximately 49 percent of 2 million visitors who flew into Costa Rica in 2010 participated in eco-tourism activities during their stay, and Ecotourism revenue was close to $1 billion

But all that glitters is not gold! Although many businesses meet the standards of sustainability, still is widespread the greenwashing practice and there are environmental issues related to the impact that visitors may have in virgin areas because of their mismanagement.

Still a lot has to be done, but ecotourism is paving the way ahead for all of us to be less environmentally harmful  and still experience an unforgettable vacation!

In the meantime be sustainable and have a good summertime!

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