When we turn on the TV, we constantly hear that the weather situation is dramatic, the planet is in very bad condition, and we must take drastic measures decisions to stop the production of greenhouse gases.
After watching so many bad news, I often hear people telling me that going to the other side of your country is not very ecological and we should stop flying because it is harmful for Earth.
How to defend sustainable tourism while travelling anywhere in the world? Here are some answers:
If flying somewhere pollutes the air, then things to stop are:
Yes!!! You read that right…airplane does pollutes the air.
But this air pollution is only 11% of greenhouse gas emissions. As per survey of transferring passengers and transferring goods, we should actually stop buying imported products from other countries like China, Argentina, Bangladesh, Thailand rather than number of planes flying or instead of we fly every year.
Moreover in France, half of the CO2 produced by transport is caused by passenger cars (51%) and only 2% by aircraft. (source)
In the fight against greenhouse gases, the daily actions are more important to avoid than the occasional events. Reducing meat consumption, eating locally or more vegetarian meal, using public transport are more effective than avoiding flying once a year.
Tourism is a source of environmental destruction:
Obviously when we talk about tourism and the environment, some might think of Thailand, the Costa Brava or Cancun. So yes, tourism especially mass tourism destroys the environment. Hotels doesn´t take any environmental precautions, they waste lot of food, uses lot of tissue papers which is harmful for environment. And also the people do not care about taking bath in rivers or just put their feet in water.
But there are also destinations who have managed to preserve themselves. Some has limited tourism, such as the Bhutan that allows tourists for 10-day trip and not more. It cost 200 dollars per day all inclusive. Others have decided to integrate tourism into their sustainable development plan like Costa Rica (source). And then, there are also other examples of tourism development, such as the Medes Islands in Spain where the creation of a marine park has transformed a highly polluted coast into the first dive spot in Europe, thanks for a drastic protection of the environment. (source)
Tourism and the environment go hand in hand, but it is up to the consumers, the tourists, to make their choice of plans.
There is no more authentic tourist area:
When I was sworn to defend the license of pro tourism and solidarity economy to the University of Avignon, I realized the important facts of authentic tourism and respectful tourism.
Tourism cannot be authentic because the action of visiting a country is not an authentic act, witnessed a traditional dance performance is not authentic. When we create tourism products, we use reality to support an economic activity. When you go to sleep with the locals it is not authentic because these same people would not do it if you were not a tourist and there was not a financial transaction. It’s not bad if it’s not authentic. The word authentic has no meaning when it comes to tourism.
Most of the time when a tourist company (travel agency, tour operator, hotels, restaurants etc …) uses this word is to sell an activity that caricatures a culture or tradition. For example, if you visit Istanbul and go to the Galata Tower, you will see that there is a traditional Turkish dance show. The problem is that it has been added by belly dance shows (non-Turkish Arabic tradition) to attract more spectators. They sold this show as authentic but it is a tourist product with no lasting value.
Another example, if you visit Dharamsala in India, place of exile Tibetans in India, you will meet many people who will tell you that it is not authentic because the young monks are on their cell phone and they listen rap. Except if you take the time to exchange cultures, you will see a living culture that combines the modern acts and the tradition.
On the other hand, tourism can be a source of enrichment and learning of a culture, a way of life. If tourism is respectful towards cultures, economic and social environment of the region where it is established, then the tourist experience will be optimal. Traditional dance shows can be created if you respect artists and their art. It will not be authentic but it will be a unique sharing experience.
In conclusion, the authentic word is a marketing concept that is not based on anything. By cons the word sustainable tourism which has a protective guarantee of a respectful approach.
Sustainable tourism: Definition and practices:
To define sustainable tourism, we must first define what sustainable development is.
The first definition of sustainable development appears in 1987 in the Brundtland report published by the World Commission on Environment and Development:
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations”
If we apply it to tourism, we can say that sustainable tourism is the one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations.
In the context of tourism, the needs are those of the inhabitants and of the tourists. We must add the notion of respect for culture and history to have a complete definition of sustainable tourism.
Things to do for sustainable tourism:
Informative travel with plans
Being cautious about all the activities we offer you
Bring back hazardous waste that will not be recycled (batteries, phones etc …)
You can offset your carbon emissions.
Try to contact providers who have a sustainability approach.
Privilege public transport over taxis (wherever possible)
Exchange cultural activity or meeting with local people
Hope this article makes your travel more environmental friendly.
Enjoy the trip