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In 2017, 1.32 billion international travellers took to the skies to broaden their horizons. This marks a 60% rise in numbers since 1995, contributing factors include cheaper travel; a more globalised economy and exploding middle classes. China alone has 200 million new customers that are starting to use their newfound wealth for travelling over the coming decades. All of this is going to have a knock-on effect on the sustainability aspect of the industry.
Tourism can be a great boon for a local economy, but it also has substantial effects on it as well. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that tourists alone produce 4.8 million tones of waste, that is 14 per cent of all solid waste, each year.
So when tourist’s travel, it is essential to be mindful on what impact we have as individuals. Hence why the term carbon footprint has become so popular. Trying to be aware of what you use, how you use it and what you leave behind is imperative when you’re abroad.
Some countries are aware of the issue and have started to act on it, for example, in Sweden they have introduced an aviation tax to lessen air travels impact on the climate and forcing fewer people taking to the skies.
But not all countries can implement these kinds of initiatives. China’s middle class is just waking up to tourism as a luxury and using their newfound wealth to explore the world. Many of these tourists are heading out on gambling trips to famous destinations like Macau and Las Vegas.
With 40 million tourists arriving in Las Vegas last year alone, these trips can be burdensome for the environment.
Having said that things are changing. Ever since Nevada State passed a green building incentive package in 2005, the Las Vegas strip has now become one of the highest concentrations for LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings in the world. Additionally, the American casino group Caesars has adopted a new initiative called CodeGreen, which has built sustainability into every part of their organisation.
Even the world’s largest casino based in Macau, China, The Venetian Macao is green certified, employing waste reduction strategies, recycling water and using energy-saving LED lights for their visitors. Alternatively, the biggest eco-friendly bet you could make would be to jump online and try out some purely online operators which could offset your carbon footprint altogether.
With all that in mind, there are a couple of ways tourists in other parts of the world can stay extra conscious while travelling:
There are sustainable travel agencies and tour operators across the world, which means that if you want to have a greener footprint when travelling, you can.Check here if you want to find one.
One of the best tourist destinations to go to if you want to have a greener holiday in Costa Rica, they have referred 25% of their country to areas of conservation, in fact, 93 per cent of its electricity comes from renewable resources and are one of the most environmentally aware holiday destinations on earth.
If you’re out and about travelling there are some apps you can download to keep a check on what you are using. FairTrip, for example, is one of the most popular, a collaborative mobile app that helps travellers to find and share local and authentic places while having a positive social and economic impact on the visited site.
Expedia is another app you can use which allows you to source a green hotel in the city you travel to. They rate hotels based on their greenness and the properties impact on the environment and local economy.
There is also a great website called EatWith; it allows you as a tourist to have dinner with locals, therefore, saving on commercial waste like wrapping, plastic etc. It is a platform available in 20 countries from North America to Europe.
There are a couple more tips we want to share with you that should be on peoples list whenever they think about booking a holiday.
Without travel, there is no tourism, but there are less harmful ways to approach the issue. Always try and take the train and not the plane when you can. Say no to plastic; the world has a massive plastic problem with over 8 million tonnes of plastic going into the ocean every year so try and use your own bottles or bags when out and about.
Last but not least and most importantly, respect the local culture. It is a privilege to travel around the world, and many don’t have that luxury. Countries will be different from what you experience on a day-to-day basis, so it’s important to respect the customs and lifestyle that they have.
If you’re not sure of how to behave or need a little more information there are plenty of websites online that can give you good advice about how to act like a true global citizen with a low carbon footprint.