An Introduction to Sustainable Travel and Why it Matters

For many people, travel is addictive. Once you come down with the “travel bug” whether from your first trip abroad or even somewhere locally, you’ll wish you took those trips earlier. Suddenly, you find yourself planning your next excursion to an exciting and new destination.

It’s not hard to see what makes travel so appealing – Experiencing unique cultures broadens your horizons and brings new perspectives to your life. Not to mention the lasting memories you create and the amazing people you meet along the way. More people are travelling than ever before. The travel and tourism industry contributed a staggering $8.8 trillion to the global economy in 2018 according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

It’s a figure worth paying attention to because travel puts a heavy strain on the environment. “Sustainability” and “travel” aren't just buzzwords then. In fact, their emphasis cannot be stressed enough. Here we’ll look at what sustainable travel is and why it matters.

What is Sustainable Travel?

The World Tourism Organization has the following definition for sustainable travel:

“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”

There are essentially three main pillars of what it means to travel sustainably. Let’s break down each of them:

  • The Environmental Pillar: Travel is harsh on the environment especially due to CO2 emissions from air travel. The environmental pillar focuses on what we can do to minimise our footprint on the environment and wildlife. Even small things like carrying your own recyclables and taking the train instead of flying can make a huge difference.

  • The Social Pillar: Too often there are stories that make the headlines of tourists not respecting local customs or even damaging historical sites. When travelling we need to not only respect the environment but also the locals and community which is what the social pillar is about.

  • The Economic Pillar: Many countries depend on tourism for revenue. Travelling sustainably means not only leaving behind a minimal ecological footprint but also having a positive impact on the local economy. Ways you can help include supporting local businesses. Crafts and souvenirs may be more expensive but you’ll be making more of a direct impact on the local economy. Remember to also not purchase any wildlife products.

By keeping these three pillars of sustainable travel in mind, you can do your part to minimise your ecological footprint on the environment.

Why Should You Care About Sustainable Travel?

There’s no doubt that tourism has a tremendous impact on the economy. The travel and tourism industry accounted for 10.4% of all global economic activity in 2018 as mentioned in the report by World Travel & Tourism Council. The global impact is so significant that the industry accounts for one in five new jobs created worldwide and is estimated to create 100 million jobs over the next 10 years.

It’s clear that there’s a strong demand for travel. Some companies even offer all-inclusive travel packages to various parts of the world. The travel industry then has economic impacts that are measurable. But we also need to remember the three pillars of sustainable travel.

If we don’t make an effort to minimise our ecological footprint while travelling, our actions can lead to damaging impacts on natural resources and social systems. So what can you do? Take small steps to travel sustainably – Reduce your plastic usage, clean up after yourself, support local businesses, bring a refillable water bottle, take sustainable forms of transportation, etc. Start being more conscious about your actions and understand that your actions matter. 

Elysian Retreat is proud to be the first luxury resort on the Great Barrier Reef that is 100% solar powered. Book a own private oceanfront villa right on the beautiful coast of Queensland or feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

Author’s Bio 

Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in depth understanding of many different industries including carpet cleaning, financial support and health care. As the owner of Integral Media, he is now utilising his knowledge and experience with his rapidly increasing client portfolio to help them achieve their business goals.

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