Almost 1.2 million people travel internationally every year. Tourism has undoubtedly had a positive impact on the global economy, with travellers contributing to economic growth.
As reported by Tempo.co, tourism contributes 10 per cent to global economic growth. However, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) noted that mass travel has caused environmental damage, with travellers not being environmentally conscious.
Here are eight steps to become a more eco-conscious traveller.
1. Choose the right mode of transport
One of the ways to travel more environmentally friendly is by taking a direct flight, allowing for minimum carbon footprint. Another option is to choose to fly on airplanes that are more energy efficient. Travelers can also calculate their carbon footprint on apps such as MyClimate, which also offers carbon offsetting advice.
2. Opt for environmentally friendly accommodation
There are increasing options for environmentally friendly accommodation. These types of accommodation usually use renewable energy, have an effective waste management system in place or are built with renewable materials. These eco-friendly hotels would also have been certified by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
3. Choose a travel agent that is compliant with environmental standards
When scheduling a trip and choosing to use a travel agent, try finding one that complies with environmental standards. Different travel aspects to keep in mind could include elements such as the protection of wildlife, supporting indigenous peoples and the employment of local guides who are familiar with local laws.
4. Support local economic growth
Try to visit areas where local people are empowered to manage their land and natural resources, such as its wildlife and marine park areas. There, tourist arrivals would have a positive impact with incoming monetary transactions directly benefiting the local economy.
5. Take care in choosing souvenirs
Tempted by antique carved ivory or bracelets made of black coral? Think twice about buying it. Just because the goods are sold does not always mean they are legal. Some products, such as turtle skin accessories, ivory or decorative fur made from protected plants and endangered species are illegally traded.
These items can also be classified as hunted products resulting from animal torture. Before purchasing souvenirs, be sure to ask about the item, such as what it is made of and where it came from. For a list of items to avoid purchasing, there is a guideline issued by the WWF.
6. Be conscious of plastic use
Every year, more than 8 million tons of plastic end up in the sea, disrupting marine ecosystems and endangering marine animals. Minimize the amount of plastic waste by carrying reusable water bottles and shopping bags when buying souvenirs, part of the small steps one should take in reducing plastic usage.
7. Look but do not touch
When visiting locations where you encounter wildlife, it is not advisable to feed, taunt or play with the wild animals you come across. It is enough to just see it and not to touch it. It is also not recommended to visit places that could exploit animals.
8. Choose sunscreen wisely
Some sunscreens contain harmful chemicals that can cause coral bleaching. Before diving into the sea, be sure to use environmentally friendly, bio-degradable sunscreen products.