As human beings, we’ve got places to go, people to see, and not a lot of time on this planet to do it all.
With the onset of COVID-19 last year, countless plane tickets and hotel bookings were cancelled. When summer 2020 came around, many of us assumed that by next June they’d be back in the business of vacationing.
Well June is almost upon us again and it doesn’t look like we’ll be globetrotting any time soon in 2021.
With that in mind, when COVID-19 does decide to release the world from lockdown, the travel industry is going to skyrocket into the stratosphere. And if you’re prepping for any bucket list destinations, there’s no time like the present to get familiar with ecotourism.
What is ecotourism?
The International Ecotourism Society defines it as:
“…responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”
When planning a vacation or extended trip, the majority of us don’t think enough about the space we’re walking into as visitors In reality, a great portion of the global tourism industry is damaging to the environment, animals and people that make up the area. This Independent article is a great read if you’re looking for examples of unethical tourism from around the world.
Your carbon footprint is important to consider when traveling both near and far, but it’s not the only stamp you’re leaving – especially during COVID-19. Canadians left to wander within our country’s borders have left northern Indigenous communities depleted of basic resources and vulnerable to serious COVID-related illness and death.
But fear not, seafaring friends. Here are some simple things you can do to avoid these harmful mistakes and countless others in your own travels:
Educate yourself on all things Ecotourism. Here are some resources to get you started:
- Green Global Travel: How Mass Tourism is Destroying 30+ Destinations
- CNN: The Future of Sustainable Tourism May Lie with All-Inclusive Resorts
- You Matter: Ecotourism: Definition, Meaning and Examples
- Eco Tour Directory: Guidelines for Ecotravel – Responsible Travel Advice
- Ecotourism World: 10 Ways to Be an Ecotourist , Isn’t Ecotourism Expensive?
Consider alternative accommodations:
If you can find Airbnb-style spaces that are owned and operated by local residents, they can be a great way to support the area you’re visiting without benefiting big corporations. When going this route, however, make sure that vacation rentals aren’t disrupting that particular destination. Beyond Airbnb, examine hotels with a critical eye. Look for lodgings like these that provide direct examples of their zero-waste strategies and the technologies they have that reduce emissions.
Know before you go:
The number one way to ensure you’re acting ethically as a traveler is to research your destination thoroughly. Ask yourself: are there marginalized populations that inhabit the area I’m visiting? What kinds of sustainable/outdoor activities are available that won’t damage local ecosystems? Have I made sure that the places I’m going to visit and stay at aren’t greenwashing? Are there cultural differences in clothing and social presentation I should follow to be respectful? Does the area I’m visiting allow me to support local business owners for meals and souvenirs, or is it mostly made up of corporate chain stores and restaurants?
With Earth Day right around the corner, we’re about to be reminded again of the impact that our actions leave on the globe. That can be daunting, but there’s plenty of room for each of us to make a difference and being an Ecotourist is definitely one of them.
Whether somewhere close to home or in a distant land, get out there and go green in your next adventure!