Story by Pia Amberger, USAG Ansbach DPW Environmental Management Division
ANSBACH, Germany (Jan. 30, 2017) — With the new year having started not too long ago, many are already planning their next vacation for 2017. So why not travel in a more environmentally responsible and sustainable way this time around? Ever heard of sustainable tourism?
Sustainable tourism is a form of travel based on the concept that a tourist tries to have a positive impact on the environment, society and economy of the destination. It’s a new form of tourism designed to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Here are a few tips you can try if you want to be a sustainable tourist:
Look for hotels and restaurants that specialize in sustainable tourism: Businesses practice sustainable tourism if they support environmental conservation, local economies and their social development. For example, by conserving water and energy, recycling and treating wastes, hiring locals with fair wages, providing training, and purchasing locally produced products for their restaurants and gift shops.
Save water: Re-use towels for multiple days and always avoid using the hotel laundry. They typically wash each guest’s clothes separately, even if there are only a few items.
Save energy: When you leave your hotel room, turn off the lights, heat/AC and TV.
Reduce/reuse/recycle – Take a BPA-free water bottle you can refill, return brochures and maps once you’re finished using them, and hold on to your trash until you find a place to recycle it.
Buy locally: Look for local artisans, support their work, and learn about their craft.
Leave only your footprints: Stick to marked trails to avoid harming native flora, and consider taking a bag to pick up trash along your journey. Not only does it help keep the outdoors clean, but it also protects wildlife that might eat or get tangled in the trash.
Be a traveler: Take time to immerse yourself in the local music, art and cuisine. Embrace the cultural differences that make the locale unique.
Honor local traditions: Some cultures can have very different traditions from yours. Understand and respect these traditions so you don’t offend the people whose culture you’re there to experience.
Give back: Some developing nations are badly in need of basic necessities most people take for granted. Traveling gives you a unique experience that stays with you for the rest of your life. In return, consider giving something back, such as bringing school supplies on tours in which you know you’ll interact with local people.
Shop smarter: Always read labels and ask, “What is this item made from?” All over the planet people sell items made from non-sustainable hardwoods, endangered species and even ancient artifacts. It may be acceptable in their country to sell them, but you can still protest against such practices by refusing to buy them.
According to the World Tourism Organization, or UNTWO, tourism is considered sustainable if its economic, social and environmental impacts now and in the future are fully taken into account and if the needs of the visitors, the industry, the environment and the local people are being considered.
Check out the February 2017 environmental newsletter HERE.
Check out more environmental news from the Environmental Management Division HERE.