It’s been a week since I attended the Future of Tourism 2014 at the Royal Geographical Society in London and with the emphasis of the evening being on sustainable tourism it’s a topic that’s stuck in my head.
To explain, sustainable tourism is effectively ensuring that tourism does not have a negative impact in any way on a destination and more of the money spent by tourists (the “traveller dollar”) is not only left in the country visited but invested there to make sure that the places themselves, the lives of locals and their culture and heritage is maintained for years to come.
It was the core topic of the evening as it’s more of a problem across the globe than you may think. One of the facts stated during Bruce Poon Tip (BPT)’s [The founder of G Adventures] presentation was that for every $100 spent by tourists in poorer countries of the world only $5 actually stays with the local population.
Quite a staggering statistic.
The idea of travelling sustainably resonates with me as it’s something that I’ve always consciously tried to do when visiting countries around the world – spending as much of my money at source as possible.
For me, this generally means buying local food and produce, booking trips/accommodations directly with local providers and using agents or big companies as infrequently as possible.
Essentially, acting as a local would.
Commendably, and despite being a huge company, G Adventures operate in as sustainable a way as possible.
BPT’s own way of thinking is (and has always been) at the core of the way that they operate; ensuring that they make a concerted effort to have a positive impact on the parts of the world that they visit.
They do this by supporting local communities through a variety of different ways in a whole host of countries by supporting The Planeterra Foundation which helps maintain the parts of the world they visit for future generations of locals and visitors alike.
But until all tourists and tour operators think along similar lines, travelling and tourism will continue to have a negative impact on the long term future of such places by taking the majority of the traveller dollar away.
And with the tourism industry as big as it is – and expanding – it’s essential that sustainable tourism becoms the norm.
So, for me, the message from the evening was relatively clear and it’s something that I’m happy to pass on!
Travel everywhere; but think about where your money is actually going and what impact you’re going to have on the local community then and when you’ve left.
And finally, support local enterprise where possible.
The Cotswolds may be a completely different destination from the types that drastically need to be supported in a sustainable way but the basic premise of sustainable tourism is applicable anywhere in the world.
It’s certainly something Go Cotswolds will be trying to do as much as possible by taking customers to local attractions, giving them the opportunity to buy local produce at source and sampling the local Cotswoldian way of life with as little negative impact as possible.
Sustainable tourism related links:
Wikipedia – wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_tourism
The United Nations on sustainable tourism – sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=243
The Lonely Planet founders on sustainable tourism – lonelyplanet.com/about/responsible-travel
Wanderlust Magazine tips on travelling sustainably – wanderlust.co.uk/advice/green
Facts on sustainable tourism – sustainabletourism.net
The Travel Foundation (British based sustainable tourism charity) – thetravelfoundation.org.uk
Planeterra – planeterra.org
Recent Daily Telegraph article about the impact of tourism at Burma’s Lake Inle (April 9th 2014) – telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/asia/burma/10752484/Burmas-Inle-Lake-under-threat-from-rapid-tourist-development.html
Guardian article from 2013 about the tourist industry’s responsibility to sustainable tourism –theguardian.com/sustainable-business/sustainable-tourism-travel-industry-duty