It is estimated that tourism activity produces 5% of the gases emitted into the atmosphere, of which 4% are generated by the transport of tourists, such as the use of the plane, and the remaining 1% are caused by accommodation. But, at the same time, it represents 10% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The negative impacts of tourism on societies and the environment mean that the gradual change of the tourism model towards more sustainable forms has become an absolute necessity. We must adopt a responsible attitude towards tourism, assuming the responsibilities and impacts of our actions.
In this sense, we can assume the commitments that sustainable development implies: use and consume renewable resources in quantities that do not exceed their renewal rate, generate fewer emissions than the capacity of the environment to assume them, respect the communities, ensure that economic activities are viable in the long term and that benefits are equitably distributed among the different actors.
Some of these practices that can be carried out, both by visitors and administrations at the destination, to make travel more sustainable are the following:
Respect and acknowledge.
Be informed about the culture, politics, and economy of the communities that we will visit to respect their traditions.
We should invest as much as possible in companies that preserve heritage and values by buying local products.
Tourists need prior environmental education to protect flora and fauna correctly when travelling. We must bear in mind that the more tourists visit an area, the greater the consumption of resources in it. Therefore, the benefits of biodiversity tourism must be improved, and the associated negative environmental impacts must be limited. In addition, part of the income generated by tourism should be used to raise awareness of the value that the planet’s biodiversity offers us.
In order to enjoy a sustainable travel destination, a good practice is being open to travel offseason. It consists of deciding on travelling during less common months of the calendar rather than the busy summer. In this way, the overall number of tourists will be the same but spaced out in time. Limitations to tourism may be necessary for crowded destinations if it is to make this activity economically viable and, also, sustainable.
A good alternative is to choose sustainable tourism options, such as cycle tourism, an agile and comfortable way to get to know the environment with little impact on the natural environment. Bird watching is also on the rise, considered a form of ecotourism that consists of observing the various shapes, sizes and colours of birds, the recognition of species by their plumage or by their song and the knowledge of habitats and the landscapes.
Whenever possible, use public collective or shared transport systems. The private vehicle is also a source of greenhouse gases; therefore, we must drive efficiently and make the most of its number of occupants if it is used.
Reduce waste and more recycling.
We must also take into account the amount of waste generated by tourism. Littering must be rebuked whether we enjoy our holidays at the beach or at the mountain. As travellers, we have a responsibility to generate the least amount of waste and at the same time recycle as much as possible.