World Tourism Day: 5 ways to become eco-sensitive traveller

Wednesday, 28 September 2022 (13:23 IST)
New Delhi: The tourism market across the world is slowly bouncing back, after a two years long slump.

With rising climatic and environmental changes, it is imperative for us to follow sustainable tourism practices. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation defines sustainable tourism as "tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities."

On this World Tourism Day, here are 5 tips to help you become an eco-sensitive traveller.

Research your tour operators:

Extensively research your tour operators before planning your trips. Verify if they offer eco-friendly hotels or homestays. Some hotels and resorts are 'green certified' where they use renewable energy like solar panels and practice rainwater harvesting. They may even have used local materials depending on the geography and topography. Some hotels also practice organic farming and cultivate their own produce. Staying with locals, and farming communities, and charting your itinerary to explore less frequented areas are also great ways to practice responsible tourism.

Minimise waste:

Thanks to packaged snacks and water, tourists tend to dump a large amount of waste in the environment in the form of carry bags, water bottles, plastic food wrappers, and more. Carrying your own water bottle, cutlery, reusable straws, and coffee mugs, and taking care to not throw around empty sachets, bottles, etc can help reduce waste. Throw trash only in bins and do not litter. You can also carry a paper or cloth bag to collect your waste and then dispose of it wherever you find a bin.

To reduce your carbon footprint in a new place, choose public transport, cycling, or walking activities. Using electricity and water responsibly wherever you go is also important. We can also avoid paper wastage by switching to e-tickets and e-documents. While shopping, look for indigenous crafts to help the local economy and buy eco-friendly products and souvenirs.

Discover the joys of traveling slow:

The generations before us did not always have access to the infrastructure that makes fast travel possible. Today, despite the options to quickly reach a destination, the idea of slow travel is catching up among mindful travellers. Slow travel means taking the time to discover local people, cultures, food, and arts, not hurrying from one place to another, taking trains, buses or choosing to trek rather than restlessly flying or motoring from one place to another without taking the time to forge connections with a place. Afterall, shouldn't travel be about relishing the joy of the here and now and also having a sustainable impact on the environment?

Avoid animal tourism:

Riding on animals such as elephants, camels, and horses is not an uncommon sight at tourist destinations. But how many of us know that these animals are not looked after properly and maybe even suffer abuse and neglect while being used for commercial purposes? In 2016, the president of Elephant Aid International, Carol Buckley stated that carrying humans is harmful to elephants' spines. When animals are offered as photo props, it is advisable to not take selfies with them.

While shopping, avoid animal products as much as possible. While exploring forests and wildlife, it is best to respect boundaries, and rules, avoid being noisy and intrusive, and not shoot pictures near nests and animal habitats. Avoid geo-tagging locations as they often attract poachers to spots where wild animals have been spotted. The point is, we must always respect the sanctity of wildlife and tribal traditions as tourists.

Be an eco-tourist:

Today, a lot of travellers join extended workshops across the world to learn sustainable architecture practices, pottery, local cuisines and more. In a bid to promote ecotourism many travellers are choosing to volunteer to help locals in their environmental endeavours like beach cleaning, afforestation activities, organic farming etc. Planting trees in tribal belts and animal corridors can be hugely satisfying and the saplings you plant now will one day affirm the positive impact of your presence on the planet. (UNI)

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