Discover our top 5 tips to consider when planing your next Adventure trip. As one of the world’s largest industries, you may well being asking yourself “what can I do?” but every tourist has social and moral responsibility to travel in a sustainable way. By using your voice as a consumer, you can change the attitudes of corporations and governments away from destructive tourism
As the rain continues to pour and winter drags on, few can be blamed for lusting after a holiday in the sun and an escape from the daily grind. But as you plan your next trip abroad, it’s worth thinking twice about the lasting impact of your little getaway.
No one can deny the incredible opportunities travel offers us all. Thanks to increasing globalisation, the invention of the package holiday and the growth of budget airlines, the world is ever more within our reach. By expanding our horizons, we deepen our understanding of the world and different cultures and as one of the major contributors to the world economy, tourism drives foreign exchange and aids in the development and growth of developing nations. For such nations, tourism can boost local economies, providing jobs, business opportunities and developments in local facilities and infrastructure. Yet we hear all too often about the path of destruction left by hordes of tourists in some of the most beautiful places in the world. And more often than not, it is tourists from industrialised countries accelerating the irreversible damage to the environment and indigenous cultures throughout the world.
Let us consider the case of Machu Picchu. According to the Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Tourism (MINCETUR), a record number of 1.1 million tourists visited Machu Picchu in 2012 (mincetur pdf) and the social, economic and environmental impact that this many visitors have is unmistakable. Although the large number of tourists has provided jobs in the area, with many foreign-owned hotels and tour operators, a large proportion of the profit is leaving the country whilst the influx of visitors is leading to inflated prices of goods and services. The enormous amount of tourists trekking the Inca Trail is leading to the widely documented erosion of the site. The damage is to such an extent that MINCETUR, UNESCO, the private tourism sector and the Ministry of Culture continue to debate the number of tourists that should be allowed to enter each year. Recently UNESCO even considered adding Machu Picchu to the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger.
Here are our 5 tips that are worth considering when planning your next trip:
Before you book, check if you’re travelling with a reputable tour operator that is committed to sustainable and ethical tourism. Read through their website or brochure to make sure they explain how they minimise environmental impact and support the local community. Also look to stay in an eco-friendly hotel that uses water and energy resources wisely and employs local people.
2. Live like a local
Support the local economy as much as possible when abroad. Rather than purchasing mass-produced, imported souvenirs, go for handicrafts made locally. Try the local delicacies and avoid imported food and drink. Consider hiring a local guide and where possible, use public transport. Just a few changes in the way you travel can contribute greatly to the local community.
3. Give a little respect
By learning a few phrases in the local language and a few things about the local culture, you will have a much greater appreciation for the country you’re visiting. Be inquisitive and ask questions – people will be impressed you’re taking an interest in their way of life. And most importantly, remember it’s your holiday, but their home.
If possible, think about volunteering in the community you’re visiting. Volunteering can be a great way to experience a new culture and to help those less fortunate. There are many of options out there, from teaching to construction and conservation to community projects. Just check the organisation you choose has a clear long-term positive impact on the community and its volunteers make a genuine contribution to the project. You can find out more about the volunteer options Project Cordillera offer here.
6. Consider your carbon footprint
You can help to reduce your carbon footprint in a number of ways. Consider flying less or making shorter journeys. Eat local and avoid imported goods. Another way to tackle your carbon footprint is by purchasing carbon offsetting. At Project Cordillera, we’ve joined up with Bloomtrigger Project to offer an innovative carbon offsetting solution, which you can read more about here.
Travel is a beautiful thing. With true care, respect and responsibility, tourism can benefit all concerned and make destinations even better places to visit for future generations.
By Bridie Taylor, Friday 28 February 2014