The old fart’s top travel story today is about “Green Tourism”. Now The term green tourism may sound friendly, but it’s often used by greasy operators to brand a business as environmentally friendly without practicing many sustainability efforts, such as basic recycling or water-conservation programs. It’s a deceptive practice called ‘greenwashing’. An example would be a hotel that calls itself ‘green’ solely because it places out the “please hang up your towels if you would like to reuse them” cards.
Beware Of Greenwashing
As far as I can tell there’s a couple of kinds green tourism, “Ecotourism” and “Sustainable tourism”, and I reckon that folks would be right wise to learn the difference. The first is ‘Ecotourism’, defined by the International Ecotourism Society (TIES), as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” In other words, ecotourism is geared towards the conservation and preservation of nature and wildlife. It’s all about getting out into the natural world, so the term is rarely ever used to describe urban tourism.
Ecotourism Is Geared Toward Conservation And Preservation
With ecotourism there’s less of an emphasis on where you stay, and more on the things that you do while you’re there. The businesses participating in ecotourism use use local guides to make sure that sites visited are protected from outside or unnatural influence. Ecotourism companies offer you the opportunity to experience an African safari in Uganda, a mountain sight seeing excursion in Canada, or a wonderful journey through the magic of a rainforest in Brazil.
Sustainable Tourism Includes Paying Communities Fairly
The next kind of green tourism is ‘Sustainable tourism’, defined by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as “refer[ring] to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development.” With a slightly wider focus than ecotourism by including urban destinations, sustainable tourism includes making sure that communities are also being paid fairly. In order to achieve certification, sustainable tourism businesses must establish and maintain a suitable balance between the environmental, economic and socio-cultural dimensions to guarantee long term sustainability.
Both Practices Minimize The Negative Impact Of Visitors
Look for “ecotourism” and “sustainable tourism”; both terms refer to practices that try to minimize the negative impact of visitors while preserving local biodiversity and respecting local culture. Whether it’s a homestay on Thailand’s Ko Yo Island, or a hike in New Zealand’s Mt. Cook National Park, most hotels and tours that practice sustainability list their practices on their website so potential customers can see exactly what their green initiatives are. For accommodations I recommend making sure that they have recycling programs in place, use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, have room keys made from sustainable materials instead of plastic, and a water-conservation program. Most businesses and services that use sustainable practices openly explain their specific methods of reducing environmental impact.
Currently There’s No Legal Regulation
Currently there’s no legal regulation or more specific definition of green tourism terms, so this old fart urges people to be darn sure they aren’t being fooled by less than scrupulous establishments while going green with their choices. To assist merchants seeking to earn certification, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council offers training modules and technical assistance to address the specific needs of each company; it also audits companies to make sure they are up to standard.
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