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Wednesday
Oct012014

Responsible and Sustainable Tourism: How to Travel Conscientiously

Tourism for many countries can comprise a large component of their GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and be an indispensable component of local peoples’ income and livelihood. However, tourism’s reliance on fossil fuels both for transportation and accommodation has a negative effect on the environment and is a contributing factor towards climate change. When travelling through or to another country, being environmentally and culturally aware of your own presence and impact on a community or habitat should be an important consideration. Being both a sustainable and responsible tourist is something any would-be traveller should consider, and is most certainly important to the future of our planet.

Sustainable Tourism

The concept of Sustainable Tourism hopes to encourage any traveller to take in to account their impact on climate change and how sustainable their trip is or could be. 72% of the total CO2 emissions from tourism come from transportation, with 55% of that total directly from aviation. It could be argued that due to the nature of air travel emissions being closer to the ozone layer their potency is increased, suggesting the influence of emissions account for 75% of tourism’s total climate impact.

Image courtesy of Emma Reece while on Frontier's Thailand Orphanage and Contruction Work Project

This is obviously a significant problem facing the future of travel and tourism. Airlines are expecting the rise in air fuel efficiency over the coming years to be completely over-shadowed by the increase in the number of scheduled flights so the effect on climate change due to aviation is set to worsen.

Getting around Laos taken while on Frontier's Laos Volunteer Adventure

Though there are ways to counter this grisly onset. To ensure your trip or stay is as sustainable as possible, make sure you plan your vacation to include the least environmentally damaging transportation. Hiring bikes, taking the train or just simply walking your way around are not only far more environmentally sound methods of travel than hailing a cab, but a much more interesting and fulfilling way to enjoy a new location.

Responsible Tourism

Responsible Tourism suggests that by ensuring your impact on a community or the environment you’re in is a positive one, you can thereby have a more authentic experience and leave your destination in an improved state for the next adventurer. This should already appeal to anyone thinking of taking part on a Frontier volunteering or teaching project, as these types of holiday are directly impacting upon a community or conservation project in a positive way. Additionally with the advent of ethical adventure tours, even those of us not sufficiently enthralled with a particular environmental or societal concern, can enjoy an epic bit of travelling safe in the knowledge they have been a responsible tourist.

Image courtesy of Naomi Dixon while on Frontier's Cambodia Adventure

But how would you ensure that you’re being responsible when travelling as a backpacker or on your own initiative? Some simple adjustments to your itinerary or approach could be all that is required. Engaging with local people in a respectful manner by adhering to any traditions held in a particular culture is a good start. Furthermore by engaging with local business you are directly affecting the livelihoods of entire communities.

Image courtesy of Bethany Smith while on Frontier's Ghana Orphanage, Teaching and Community Health Project

Perhaps the most beneficial thing you could do when organising your own travelling is to factor in some voluntary work. Many smaller charities and organisations, as well as some larger ones would be extremely amenable in accommodating you for a short stay to help out. This is certainly a great way to meet new people and see a side of a country or community many other tourists would not. Sending an email is often all that is required to organise this kind of work abroad.

Building on the Steppes taken while on Frontier's Mongolia Building Homes for Underprivaledged Families Project

There are many other issues surrounding both sustainable and responsible tourism. In the next few weeks Frontier will be blogging about these issues and suggesting ways to curb any potential bad habits or travelling faux pas you may pick up, to turn you into a beacon of hope for the world of tourism and travel.

 

Jack Plumb

 

Tell us what you think about being responsible when you travel on our social media channels! FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Maybe you could try volunteering abroad now you're a responsibly aware tourist!

Frontier runs over 300 dedicated conservation, community and adventure projects worldwide. Why not have a look at our projects and internships or find out more about great ideas for your gap year, and opportunities to volunteer across the globe.

See more from our volunteers on YouTubeFlickr and Instagram #FrontierVolunteer.