Caring for the earth by embracing eco-centric habits is everywhere from recycling and electric vehicles to eliminating pesticides and BPA. What has really taken green living to the next level is how we travel. Have you ever considered the massive carbon imprint a luxury resort or retail giant has on the environment? Native trees, plants, and wildlife are cleared away to make room for big chain hotels, and the pollution caused by traffic is at an all-time high. Eco-Tourism has changed the way the world travels by supporting the local economy and has a positive impact on both travelers, and the destinations they visit.
Live like a local, play like a local. Step outside your comfort zone and immerse yourself in the culture, embracing native traditions and experience the ways of the world beyond your own backyard. Be open to learning how others live, and discover the exciting ways you can incorporate new ideas into your own life. When you’re reluctant to venture out of your cozy hotel room and out onto the streets to experience the sights and sounds of your surroundings, you miss out on the social and economic opportunity to support tourism in the community.
Support local income. Rather than stay in a five-star resort, invest in the community by choosing alternative lodgings such as a B&B or even a hostel for the travel adventurer. In many countries, families open their homes to travelers, and for a fraction of the cost of a westernized hotel, provide you with a comfortable room, a home cooked meal and a built-in tour guide. Source nourishment from local farm stands, food vendors, and markets to experience exciting regional flavors.
Reduce emissions, and explore using alternative modes of transportation. Whether it’s a walking tour, renting a bike, or a horseback ride on the beach, leaving the car behind will not only get you places a vehicle won’t, but the exhilarating feeling of open air and outdoor recreation is a pollution-free alternative to conserving energy and the environment. Some cities such as Venice, Italy, and Zermatt, Switzerland ban the use of cars altogether.
The International Eco-Tourism Society’s list of top destinations includes Iceland, Barbados, and Uruguay. What these countries have in common is a commitment to health, and human welfare, protecting wildlife and using renewable energy sources. As a visitor, commit to upholding these standards by keeping it local, and always responsible. Have you been an ecotourist? Do you plan to experience such a holiday? Please post a comment and tell us about it!