12 Effective Ways to Promote Sustainable Tourism
Why Sustainable Tourism?
Another ploy to attract tourists and give tourism a spin? When we travel to new places, we often just scoot by and look at faces and scenes we'll never see again.
New restaurants, world heritage sites, art galleries, temples, stupas and basilicas, new architecture and many more. Some had been there forever and we just pass through for a quick peek.
We hope these places will be there for the next generation, not only ours. But, we know that this is not always the case. Look at Bamiyan. The Mongols and other conquerors protected this place as they know these had been there for ages but, some in our generation thought the Buddha statues should not be there. We can, of course, think of other examples.
These places we visit are homes for people like us who live and work there. How would you want visitors to behave in your own home?
Think about it! When you are the host, it's great fun to show off what you have. But when the visitors leave, you hope they've cleaned up after themselves and taken only good memories, not some of your heritage!
If we are good tourists, wherever we go, we try to make it a little better because of our visit. We don't have to sacrifice our holidays to do this. In fact, some will even add real pleasure and unique twist to our experience.
Ways to Promote Sustainable Tourism
If you're thinking of becoming a more responsible tourist, here are some ways you can try:
1. Include sustainable tourism alternatives in your trip
2. Go green in your hotel
3. Know more about sustainable tourism
4. Reduce carbon footprints
5. NO to illegal trade
6. Support sustainable options in island destinations
7. Take care of heritage places
8. Challenge yourself
9. Support community-based tourism
10. Respect the practices of local people
11. Use reusable bags all the time
12. Don't be a critic
Sustainable Tourism Alternatives
There are alternatives we can opt for when we plan our trips. For example, we know that in summer, many cities are overburdened with guests so why go at this time? Vist when the crowd have gone so you give the city a break.
If you have no choice but to go in the summer, you don't have to stay in the city centre. Stay in a place close by and just visit the major attractions each day. You lessen the pressure on the city. Choose not to stay in the already overburdened tourist areas.
You can check the sites of Sustainable Travel International or Stay Another Day or the many sites online on eco-friendly products and services in your target area. Guides will help you. But is that the best place to go in the country? Is it popular only because the one day tourist can see it easily or is it really a worthwhile place to visit? How can you support programs that will make life better not only for the top 1% but for the simple folks in the area?
Go Green in Your Hotel
Occasions to go green start in your hotel. With towels and sheets. If you are staying longer, ask them to do your sheets and towels not every day but when they are ready for a change. Do the right thing around air conditioners, heaters, and other electronic gadgets. Turn them off when you go out. Better still, stay in hotels that have recycling programs well in place and abide by their guidelines.
Know More about Sustainable Tourism
Learn a bit all the time. Keep your eyes open. See how others are doing. Look at the things they do which contribute to promoting sustainable tourism. A step or two is all it takes.
Reduce Carbon Footprints
One key step in promoting sustainable tourism that is easy to do and will have greater impact is reducing your carbon footprints. Looks like 5% of the world emission is caused by airlines. No wonder some airlines now offer the option for anyone booking a ticket to buy some credits to offset carbon footprints.
There are plenty of green tips to offset your carbon footprints other than just buying credits. You can take direct flights as having several lay overs in your trip increases your carbon footprints. Sometimes, this can't be done so look at other options. Other green options include using health food stores, organic wines and farmers market.
NO to Illegal Trade
Buy from local businesses so you circulate money in the local economy and create jobs for local people. Patronize especially those businesses that are not engaged in illegal trade and exploitation, the exploitation of humans, especially children and the looting of artifacts. Stealing peoples' heritage? Don't do it!
One of the illegal trades in Southeast Asia is on rosewood. Coveted for luxury furniture, cars, pens, yachts, loggers are ravaging Cambodia's forests for rosewood which can fetch them upwards of $7,000 - $15,000 per cubic meter.
Support Sustainable Options in Island Destinations
Coastal cities and islands are now seeing the tourist dollars and so more islands and coastal areas are being developed in many countries all over the world. And in these places, paved highways, lavish resorts, seaside villas, spas, helicopter landing pads and golf courses are built.
This dizzying pace are relocating local residents and driving them away from their livelihood. Of course, these developments also create jobs often filled by skilled recruits not from the islands. Coastal forests that have protected the islands from typhoons and soil erosion are gone. So are the mangroves that are important to the island's eco-system.
Take Care of Heritage Places
Tourist sites you visit may be visited by millions of people a year, so care needs to be taken to allow others to enjoy this as well. Take your litter with you and for heaven's sake, do you really want your name emblazoned on the walls or the caves or the sides of the mountain? Do you absolutely HAVE to take that picture of yourself on top of a monument especially when the signs say "NO"?
These monuments and artifacts are so old and fragile that they are sensitive to the touch of hands or bags and shoes. For more information on this, go to Heritage Watch.
World's Cultural Heritage
Every year, an estimated $6 billion of the world's cultural heritage is stolen and sold.
Often, we go on tours and retreat to our hotels for meals. Walk around, even if only in the streets closest to your hotel. Eat in local restaurants. Talk to the locals even with just your driver.
Learn a few words in the local language and use it. You will surely get a smile from the hotel staff and street vendors. Challenge yourself.
A step beyond your comfort limit each time you take a trip is worthwhile. You will be surprised at the the rich treasures stored in your memory.
Support Community-Based Initiative
In-between the world famous Phuket and Krabi, Koh Yao Noi knew that tourists will not just stay in those developed places but will always venture out to their islands. And the tourists have come but the island is ready.
Koh Yao Noi is home to communities of Muslims, around 5,000 mostly fishermen and farmers, who want guests to their islands to dress properly, leave the corals and shells alone and not litter. The residents who first got engaged to stop poachers who exploit their marine resoources, eventually formed a club to manage the influx of tourist to their islands. They handle all aspects of tourism from tours to sightseeing to homestays.
Around 30 households in the island can accommodate up to 150 guests at a time. Guests who have stayed in the island consider this their secret escape and want this to remain so.
Community Based Tourism
Communities have a stake in the development of tourism in their areas so their active involvement will ensure that programs will be sustained.
Respect the Practices of Local People
Be discreet when people are praying in churches, mosques or temples. Wear appropriate clothing. In some countries, they don't want sleeveless tops and shorts when you go in the temples. Respect the silence and the restrictions placed on these sites. If you see a pile of shoes outside a place, take your own off. Don't be a doofus...think!
Use Reusable Bags All the Time
The simplest way to promote sustainable tourism
When you do this, you discourage the use of those plastic bags that fly all over many sites and foul the water and waste systems. Use this bag to carry some cookies to give to beggars and kids. Giving them money will just encourage dependency. If you really want to give, there are agencies you can donate to or where you can volunteer some of your time. This will surely be an experience especially in the more disadvantaged countries.
Carry a tote bag with you all the time
This bag as it is strong and big enough to carry your purse and other things you want to bring. It is great for airline travel and for other trips as well. The handles and the base can support things you carry that are heavy.
This is just a simple thing to do but it eliminates the plastic bags that also pollute the environment.
It was once a big problem in Jordan as the government cracked its head as to the best strategy in eliminating those plastic bags stuck on fences close to the road.
What an ugly site it was and this is true of many countries where you see these plastic bags all over the place.
Don't Be a Critic
It ain't all pretty! Deal with it and keep quiet. Remember, home has its problems and with all the resources we have, we can't seem to solve these.
And here's the big one: good manners are nearly universal. A pro tourist is polite and positive and eco-sensitive. If that doesn't sound like you, then give the world a break and stay home. These are just simple things. What we need is just a little desire to make our world a much better place to be -- not just for ourselves, but for everyone.
A Commitment to Sustainable Tourism
Do you try to do something for sustainable tourism each time you go on a trip?
Learn how to promote sustainable tourism
Whether you are a resort owner or a promoter of tourism in your area or just simply a tourist, there is still a value in learning how to promote sustainable tourism. Every little thing you can do to ensure that future generations will still be able to enjoy the beauty of the places you appreciate will go a long way.
Challenges to Sustainable Tourism
Ecotourism is on the rise as countries vie for tourist dollars and eco-tourism is attracting many tourists who want to make their travel more supportive of sustainability.
In Cambodia, for example, there used to be only three communities doing this. Recently, the number have increased to more than 20.
The development of ecotourism at the community level certainly contributes to socioeconomic growth with those in the remote areas included, poverty alleviation, expediting growth in facilities in remote areas, protection of indigenous species and traditional ways of life especially of ethnic minorities and biodiversity.
However, it is not easy to organize community based eco-tourism. The list of challenges are listed below.
6 Top Challenges to Promoting Sustainable Tourism
Although initiatives have proliferated in providing community based ecotourism, many have not been sustained. The challenges often include:
- Working with local authorities and getting approval often take so much time and some authorities make it difficult for communities to start these initiatives by instituting difficult processes required.
- People residing in areas where ecotourism is possible are often illiterate and lack the skills to make this happen. Training can take time.
- Communities often do not have the money to sustain the services they provide so when support is gone the program disappears.
- Control over natural resources especially land concessions in ecotourism areas. When these concessions start developing the place and cut down trees, the place loses its ecotourism potential.
- Lack of knowledge and access to materials needed. Local people often do not have the imagination to make innovations or just even improve the quality of their products and services. As such, they cannot attract tour operators to send tourists in their areas.
- Lack of local capacity to manage and develop ecotourism programs both on the community level and the government level as well.
Beachside Clean Up - Be Part of It
A Couple's Initiative at Sustainable Involvement
Recently, we were going to meet friends of friends visiting Cambodia so we set a date at FCC so we started looking around when we arrived for possible candidates. We soon realized that we got the date wrong. So, we just sat down and had dinner. But one of the couples there we had asked earlier joined us in our table and we got talking.
They had been visiting Cambodia because on their first visit, they met a young girl in the Russian market, a favourite for tourists here in Phnom Penh. This girl was selling guide books. They told her they were not interested in buying those because often the pages are all over the place. But they got talking to her and she ended introducing them to her father who got diabled during the Khmer Rouge war. They go intrigued and when invited to see their home, they went with them.
Their house was the most dilapidated in the farm about two hours by Tuk Tuk from Phnom Penh. The couple then decided to build them a better home so they were here to visit the finished home which is now the best in the village. The couple have no children of their own and so they have adopted this family and it gives them happiness. Many people are doing similar initiatives all over the world to bring a better quality of life to people who lack for opportunities to advance.
A More Authentic Travel Experience - Quality Beyond Five-Star
I just finished reading an article on community tourism in My Son, Vietnam. A village close to the heritage site in My Son, it is now earning extra income on tourism by providing home stay, cooking for tourists, guiding tourists, renting out bicycles and even making tourists partake in fishing and farming. The International Labor Organization provided them the training and now they are happy to have something to do after they have planted their rice.
The income is good but over and beyond this, the village knows the place very well and by providing these services are giving tourists quality experiences, not five-star but real quality.
© 2010 Mary Norton