What is sustainable tourism? With this article we aim to expose you some facts about travelling and share with you some tips we believe are relatively easy to apply. And don’t forget: every little step matters!
Except if you currently live in a cave (which is not plausible since you are on this page), you already know how bad the situation is regarding the environment and there is no better time than now to do something. You may not be aware of it but tourism is a sector that has a lot of negative impacts on the planet, and not only because of the transportations.
We understand that the concept of sustainable tourism can still be a bit vague but the main goal is to reduce the negative impacts of tourism and increase the positive ones. We are talking about impacts on the environment but not only. It is also to consider local people and the heritage of a place you visit. We decided to do something big to help this cause and help you figure out to have positive impacts while traveling, so we are proud to announce you that:
We have written a guide referencing more than 350 sustainable hotels in more than 20 countries all over Europe, you can find it here!
Now, let’s come to the facts for this article! We help you step by step.
1. Pick a responsible destination
The first step when planning a trip is to pick a destination, right? And there are two things that definitely matters when choosing where to go: how far and how “touristy” it is. What we aim to promote with our association is tourism in Europe because it has so much to offer, so many different landscapes and cultures. Obviously, the most polluting part of a trip is related to airplanes emissions, so why not try to focus on places that are reachable by train for example? Europe has so many railways that will get you pretty much everywhere you want and a train journey is an adventure itself! If you think you could enjoy a train journey, why not have a look at Interrail?! Awesome journey guaranteed!
Furthermore, when choosing a destination, why not try to avoid overcrowded places and try to go a little out the path? You will only enjoy the trip even more and you’ll help reduce the impacts of mass tourism.
2. Sustainable Hotels
Hotels can have a pretty powerful impact on the environment, especially with their use of energy dependance. We understand that when you are travelling around you may not want to compromise your comfort. But what if we help you find very comfortable hotels that are very active towards the environment and promoting sustainability?
We are working on a list of hotels in Europe to make it easier for you to find sustainable hotels. The hotels referenced are cautious with their CO2 emissions, water usage, provide local food and work mainly with local population. In our list, you will find hotels that can suit all your wills. Either you are looking for a modern city-center hotel or an isolated unique hotel, we have what you need. If you want to make a positive impact, we suggest you avoid big hotels chains and privilege independant hotels. You can check out our Hotels page for the full list of hotels we are currently promoting.
3. Sustainable Restaurants
You are visiting a new country or a new city and you are looking for places to eat? Why not starting by avoiding fast food chains? You are visiting a new place after all so you should definitely try some local food. It will do good to the planet and you will truly experience the country/city. We are also working on a list of restaurants that provide local food, you will find it on our Restaurants page soon.
Furthermore, most of the restaurants we are promoting actually offer a menu filled with local products!
4. Sustainable Activities
How can we be more responsible when visiting a place? By doing responsible activities, but now what is that?
First of all, when visiting a country’s heritage always be respectful of the traditions, even more if it is a sacred area etc. If you are looking for a guide, try to avoid the big agencies and work with a local guide, you’ll help the local economy shine. We will make a list of guides and small travel agencies we recommend to you.
If you are staying in a city and don’t mind a little sport, why not rent a bike instead of renting a car? Don’t forget to look for public transportations also as most of European cities are very well equipped. And of course, walking around will allow you to get the most out of a city while reaching your daily physical exercise.
Furthermore, we know some of the following activities might be tempting but they actually have terrible effects on animals and the environment. These are activities that imply exploitation of an animal: elephant tours, swimming with dolphins in a small tank, tigers feeding, etc. The list is non-exhaustive and there exist some organizations that are doing an amazing work at taking care of these animals and allowing tourists to be in touch with them. But the vast majority of companies offering these types of prestations are exploiting both the animals and the environment.
But if you still want to see local animals, you can always choose an ethical company in the list we will provide you here. For example, you can go whale watching or dolphin watching in small groups or do dog sledding with agencies that really take care of their dogs. Find out more about sustainable activities on the Activities page.
There are so many ways in which we can all act more sustainably, and it is not necessary that we all do everything we mentionned in this article, but we are sure we can all do at least one of the above-mentionned step towards sustainability. We are lucky to be able to travel, we should take this chance to respect the places we are visiting!
Together, let’s act to promote sustainable tourism!
Let us know in the comments what you think of our initiative and what you think you will do next time you plan on travelling!
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