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Sustainable travel and responsible tourism

Sustainable tourism attempts to reduce impact on the environment, communities and cultures, while helping to generate future employment for local people. The aim is to ensure that development brings a positive experience for local people, tourism companies and the tourists themselves – without costing the Earth.

Can any holiday be environmentally friendly?

We are focusing on sustainable tourism here. There are clearly many environmental considerations to travel. That said, sustainable tourism generates considerable income for many poor communities around the world while minimising the impact on the environment and culture.

As a simple starter, one thing you can do is carbon offset your journey. You can do this through companies like ClimateCare. And it’s cheaper than you think. ClimateCare says, “A round-trip from Heathrow to Bangkok airport might be almost 13,000 miles and releases two tonnes of carbon dioxide, but the cost of offsetting it can be as little as £20 per person.”

Who to travel with

You’re unlikely to see a sustainable tourism travel agent on your local high street. They tend to be small, independently-run organisations that make provisions for clients to visit small regions known personally to its workers. Such experiential knowledge makes them best able to provide information about how to travel responsibly without damaging the local equilibrium.

If it’s a luxury, self-catering break in the UK, Ireland, France or Italy you’re after, look no further than cottages4you. With a varied range of properties in some beautifully untouched locations, your break would not only be economically friendly, but environmentally, too. Blue & Green Tomorrow receives a small agent’s commission from every holiday booked which helps fund our intern and researcher programme.

However, if you want to travel further afield, the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) was the first tourism industry association to incorporate into its business charter a commitment to responsible travel and green tourism. Sustainable travel guidelines for its members are based upon five key objectives:

  • To protect the environment – its flora, fauna and landscapes
  • To respect local cultures – traditions, religions and built heritage
  • To benefit local communities – both economically and socially
  • To conserve natural resources – from office to destination
  • To minimise pollution – through noise, waste disposal and congestion

For a full list of AITO members, who offer a whole range of exciting holidays to plenty of interesting destinations, see here.

Meanwhile, ABTA, another travel association at the forefront of the industry, has a useful section on sustainability here.

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