Author: Elena Menchetti
Publication date: 21.11.2023
When we talk about traveling, most people think about the positive aspects of traveling and what it can bring into their lives. However, we often don’t consider the negative impacts that traveling and tourism have on the environment. This is why we will highlight the connection between traveling and sustainability, and explain the pros and cons of sustainable traveling and tourism. In addition, we will give you some tips on how to make more sustainable choices.
Traveling and sustainability
Sustainable travel should minimize the negative impacts and maximize the positive impacts of tourism on the environment, the economy, and society. Ideally, it should be beneficial to the area in which it takes place. Therefore, sustainable travel is a way to preserve nature and maintain tourism without harm.
The pros of traveling
1. Tourism and the economy
Tourism is an important industry and one of the most common employment fields worldwide.
2. Personal experience and cultural knowledge
Traveling can help you form new memories and meet new people. It can fill deep human needs such as those of connection, exploration, and understanding. To some people, traveling can also be a vehicle for peace and self-knowledge. In addition, the more you travel, the more you will increase your knowledge about other countries and their cultures.
The cons of traveling
Traveling and tourism both pollute the environment. When thinking about pollution, transportation is what usually comes up (e.g. pollution from airplanes, cruise ships). However, one should be aware that pollution can also happen once one arrives at the place of destination (e.g. the way tourism affects natural resources).
Traveling is usually expensive, and not everyone can afford traveling often to new places. For this reason, an increasing number of companies are making traveling more accessible to everyone. However, while this reduces the affordability gap, it also results in more mass tourism and pollution.
3. Energy expenditures and infrastructures
The more people travel, the more likely there is going to be the need for additional infrastructures. This means that existing natural environments and habitats will have to be cleared to allow for more free space. Additionally, a greater number of people will need accommodation. Hence, energy expenditures in hotels are likely to increase, especially for water and electricity.
How to make traveling more sustainable
1. Staying in eco-friendly locations
From renewable energy production to bio-architecture, eco-friendly locations focus on preserving the environment. They also support the local economy, and reduce the negative impacts of tourism.
2. Making optimal use of environmental resources
Because with excessive traveling often comes an excessive use of natural resources, making sure that resources are used optimally is key. This will preserve the natural heritage and biodiversity of the travel destination.
3. Respecting the culture of local communities and supporting local businesses
Respecting local cultures and communities conserves artistic heritage. In addition, eating local foods and buying from local businesses empowers the local economy. What’s more, local products do not involve transportation and require less packaging, which means less pollution.
Tourism and sustainability
The aim of sustainable tourism practices is to improve the short and long term environmental, economic, and social impacts of tourism.
The pros of sustainable tourism
1. Balanced focus
Sustainable tourism places a balanced focus on the economic, environmental, and social aspects of tourism instead of just profit or individual wants.
2. Green improvements to transport and accommodations
Sustainable tourism focuses on methods of transport that do not burn fuel or use electricity (e.g. more walking or cycling). It also focuses on eco-friendly accommodations and hotels.
The cons of sustainable tourism
1. Lack of resources and funding
There is some research suggesting that there are not enough resources and funding to allow for sustainable tourism.
Sustainable tourism can be more expensive for travelers because of the requirements of the travel destination and the services offered. This means that some low income travelers will be taken off the list of sustainable traveling.
How to make tourism more sustainable
1. More effort and accountability from local communities to limit tourism
Local communities could put in place some regulations, guidelines, barriers to entry, and plans to help protect and preserve their local resources.
2. More responsibility and support from travelers and consumers
Consumers could take on more responsibility to reward sustainable tourism services. For example, they could support businesses where animals are not exploited for the purpose of tourism.
3. Sharing rooms and vehicles
Sharing rooms and vehicles will ultimately decrease pollution and increase sustainability.
Some evidence shows that there has been no significant progress on sustainable traveling and tourism. This is probably due to a lack of funding and financial resources, as well as a lack of investments and collaborations.
However, this doesn’t mean that we should give up on our pursuit of sustainability. Actually, as tourists, we should always be mindful of how we travel, how often we travel, and of the impact we have in a given destination. Even if traveling nowadays has become easier, we should not forget to value and appreciate travel destinations as much as we used to in the past.