Recent Posts

Jessica Bueler Organizes Community Effort to Welcome Refugees to St. Louis

Jessica Bueler Organizes Community Effort to Welcome Refugees to St. Louis

On November 1, 2016, four Syrian refugees were beaten outside of their home in the north side of St. Louis. The boys, who ranged from 13-15 years of age, were punched and kicked by a group of unknown suspects. Jessica Bueler, a St. Louis business […]

5 Reasons Verona is a Perfect Destination for Families

5 Reasons Verona is a Perfect Destination for Families

Verona is often overlooked by the charming canals of its more famous neighbor, but it’s a great destination for families. The city is easily walkable, with all its major attractions within its compact historic center. Here are five spots that are sure to enchant even […]

Summer 2018: Going in Different Directions

Summer 2018: Going in Different Directions

We rang in the New Year in Paris and spent the first eight days of 2018 in Italy, so we got a good start to the 2018 year, but it’s the summer trips that I’m most excited about. Emma had expressed wanting to go on […]

How to Make Sense of Travel Advisories for U.S. Citizens

How to Make Sense of Travel Advisories for U.S. Citizens

In January, the Department of State revamped its travel advisory page and how it provides information about other countries. Before the list only included countries that had a travel advisory, but now the list includes all countries with the following classifications: Level 1 – Exercise […]

Jeff Seale: An Anti-Poverty Activist Working in Sustainable Agriculture

Jeff Seale: An Anti-Poverty Activist Working in Sustainable Agriculture

Jeff Seale discovered the ONE Campaign like so many of us did–by clicking on something that caught his attention on Facebook. His interest in poverty dates back to the Ethiopian famine of 1984, though at that time, he didn’t know how to get involved. He […]

Even With the Crowds, Italy Still Inspires

Even With the Crowds, Italy Still Inspires

Italy: the land of pasta and immense beauty–the people, the language, and the landscape.  It’s no wonder the country is overrun by tourists. From the shimmering canals of Venice and the rolling amber hills of Tuscany, to the rugged cliffs of Positano and the picturesque […]

Reflections on Traveling Solo

Reflections on Traveling Solo

I’ve been on so many solo trips that I forget it’s not something that everyone feels comfortable doing. I find comfort in being on my own, allowed to experience a new place in any way that makes sense to me. It’s invigorating and freeing. But […]

Ecuador Travel Guide

Ecuador Travel Guide

Ecuador was the biggest surprise of our South American trip. We didn’t have any expectations for the country because we didn’t know that much about it, but my daughter and I both agree that it was our favorite country from the trip. There’s much to […]

South America Packing List

South America Packing List

From the Amazon Rainforest and coastal beach towns to the Andean Mountains, South America has much to offer, but this diversity in geography and climate make packing a challenge. Hot and humid days on the coast can be followed by bone-chilling nights in the mountains. […]

Colombia Travel Guide

Colombia Travel Guide

Bustling cities, Andean adventures, Amazon jungle, and Caribbean coasts. Colombia packs all of South America’s treasures within its boarders. The country that was once riddled with drug cartels and violence is now one of the most popular up-and-coming destinations. In the past 10 years, international […]


International Year of Sustainable Tourism

The International Year of Sustainable Tourism: What Does it Mean for You?

The International Year of Sustainable Tourism: What Does it Mean for You?

The UN has declared that 2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. If you’re like most people, you may be wondering what that means? What is sustainable tourism? How does tourism connect to development? And most importantly what does it mean for you as a traveler?

Background

Tourism is one of the largest economic industries in the world, and it’s growing at a startling rate. The World Tourism Organization expects tourist arrivals to reach 1.8 billion by 2030, up from 1,184 million in 2015.

This means that for many developing countries, tourism is often the main source of revenue. It has the potential to create jobs, improve restoration efforts, and protect natural environments. On the flip side, however, tourism can cause environmental degradation, loss of culture, and can create issues of access for locals. This is why sustainable tourism is so important. The tourism industry can play an integral role in the development efforts of individual countries, or it can be a key contributor to a county’s degeneration.

The crowd hoping to see a condor at Colca Canyon.

Sustainable Tourism Defined

UNWTO defines sustainable tourism as “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”

Simply put, sustainable tourism asks that businesses, travelers, policy makers, and relevant stakeholders be mindful about environmental, economical, and socio-cultural issues.

Current Challenges

Perhaps the biggest challenge to sustainable tourism is the lack of attention the topic receives. Most travelers aren’t thinking about sustainability when they plan their trips, so, in turn, there is not a demand for businesses to employ sustainable practices.

This lack of attention also affects the certification process. You will find that hotels and other tourism businesses may display a sustainability certificate, but there aren’t universal standards on what it means to be a sustainable company. Each certification company has a different process and so you never really know what it means when they say they’re sustainable.

What does this mean for you?

As travelers, we need to start thinking about how we can support sustainable practices.  This topic becomes more urgent every year as the tourism industry continues to grow. We have a responsibility to the destinations and the cultures we visit. There is already a long list of places that have been negatively affected by increased tourism. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, The Taj Mahal in India, and Machu Picchu in Peru, to name a few.

Effective July 1, 2017, Machu Picchu has two timed entries to evenly distribute the number of visitors each day. They allow 5,000 visitors per day, which is double the recommended number by UNESCO. The new policy also requires visitors to have a tour guide to ensure that everyone sticks to the marked paths (though, this was not yet enforced when I was there on July 7).

What can you do as a traveler?

There are many ways in which you can support sustainable practices. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. Get informed. When you begin researching potential destinations, read about their sustainability practices. Make sustainability an issue you consider when determining where to go, where to stay, and how to get there.
  2. Choose where to spend your money. Hotels and transportation are not the only two places to consider sustainable practices. Tours, shops, and restaurants present great opportunities for supporting the local community.
  3. Be respectful of the culture. Learn about cultural norms before traveling so you aren’t unknowingly offending others. When guidelines are given, make sure you follow them. The policy changes at Machu Picchu were created in direct response to tourists wandering off the marked paths.
  4. Critically examine opportunities to interact with animals and children. Working with kids and animals can create some of the most meaningful memories, but you don’t want to play a part in exploitation or abuse. Don’t give children money on the streets unless you know where the money is going (I would still argue against this, but that’s a topic for another post…), and make sure that animals are treated ethically before you financially support any organization working with them.

Most importantly, be an informed consumer. Spend you money in ways that make the tourism industry value employing sustainable practices.

Resources

National Geographic. The Untold Travel Story

World Tourism Organization


Sustainable Travel

World Tourism Day and Being a Respectful Traveler

World Tourism Day and Being a Respectful Traveler

Today is World Tourism Day! Did you even know that was a thing? To be honest, I didn’t. It turns out that the day was created in 1980 to create awareness about tourism and its social, cultural, and economic value. This year the World Tourism […]

Understanding the Differences Between Sustainable Tourism and Eco Tourism

Understanding the Differences Between Sustainable Tourism and Eco Tourism

The travel industry is one of the largest in the world and is expected to continue growing in the upcoming years. In 2016, international tourist arrivals grew by 3.9%.  With this growth comes the realization that tourism has the potential to benefit communities through conservation […]

Socio-Cultural Issues: Affect Change Through Sustainable Tourism

Socio-Cultural Issues: Affect Change Through Sustainable Tourism

Of all the components of Sustainable Tourism, which I discussed in an earlier post, I will probably spend most of my time on this blog addressing issues pertaining to socio-cultural issues, not because I think they are more important than environmental and economic issues, but because […]

The International Year of Sustainable Tourism: What Does it Mean for You?

The International Year of Sustainable Tourism: What Does it Mean for You?

The UN has declared that 2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. If you’re like most people, you may be wondering what that means? What is sustainable tourism? How does tourism connect to development? And most importantly what does it mean for […]

Beyond Unique Escapes: Sustainable Travel in Siem Reap

Beyond Unique Escapes: Sustainable Travel in Siem Reap

When I was in Cambodia, I spent a day with Beyond Unique Escapes, a local tour company in Siem Reap that offers responsible, community focused tours across Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. I like to read up on tour companies before I book because I always worry […]