Never in history have people been this interconnected with each other. We have many modes of transportation to get across countries and continents. Heck, we’re even traveling to space now. However, with this accessibility comes some downsides. One of the ways to remedy these pitfalls is through sustainable tourism.
What Is Sustainable Tourism?
The term “sustainable tourism” might evoke images of cleaning up trash on a tropical beach during your vacation or building schools in third-world countries while en route to an epic jungle tour. However, the truth is, what sustainable tourism is and why it matters goes beyond both of these examples. Sustainable tourism aims to preserve the benefits of traveling while diminishing the negative effects it has on the local environment and culture.
Why Does Sustainable Tourism Matter?
It matters because modern-day travel often completely disregards the golden campsite rule: leave things better than how you found them. However, sustainable tourism can (and should) be a symbiotic exchange in several ways:
Limit Ecological Impact
Too much human activity can throw specific ecosystems out of equilibrium. Some local municipalities and tour companies combat this by requiring permits to enter a region or park and limiting the number of people who can enter each day. Saguaro National Park in Arizona even banned disposable bottles. These measures limit disturbance to the environment so that the fauna and flora can bounce back from and adapt to any human interaction they have.
Preserve Cultural Heritage
Another reason why sustainable tourism matters is that it ensures travelers value local communities and their differences. If all destinations had the same cookie-cutter tourist experience, what fun would that be? Getting a taste of cultural differences and celebrating them are some of the best parts of traveling.
Promote Socio-Economic Benefits for Local Communities
Finally, tourism is a business first and foremost. Sustainable tourism ensures that communities are fairly compensated for their time. In some places of the world, such as remote islands, a significant portion of the locals’ work involves serving visitors. In a sustainable tourism model, most of the money that the travelers spend stays within the community instead of going to an international travel company.
Although sustainable tourism will continue to evolve as people explore new places, it seeks to ensure that all parts of tourism benefit local communities and people.