Recent Posts

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 […]

Running the Streets of Siem Reap

Running the Streets of Siem Reap

I packed my running clothes, hoping I could run on my trip. I wasn’t entirely sure it’d be safe, and I didn’t know if I could bear the heat even if it was safe, but when  I got to Cambodia, I learned that my friend, […]

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 […]

Tips For Planning Your Next Trip

Tips For Planning Your Next Trip

How to plan your next trip I spend a lot of time researching trips. It’s how I fill the non-travel part of my year–it’s honestly something I love doing. Recently a friend of mine, who is thinking about taking her first trip to Europe, asked […]

Steps to Simplify Your Life

Steps to Simplify Your Life

My brother-in-law jokes that he could pack up my entire home in a matter of hours. I think this is an exaggeration, but it’s not too far off. I used to have more stuff–boxes from college full of Mardi Gras beads, closets full of shoes […]

How to Expose Your Kids to Different Cultures Without Leaving The Country

How to Expose Your Kids to Different Cultures Without Leaving The Country

We could hear the beat of the music as soon as we stepped out of our car. We grabbed our things and joined the line of people making their way toward the music. I could sense my son’s apprehension—he kept his head down, watching his […]

My Christmas Surprise for My Kids: We’re Going to Europe

My Christmas Surprise for My Kids: We’re Going to Europe

Last year I struggled to come up with Christmas gifts for my kids. They didn’t need anything, and we’re not a family who buys things just for the sake of buying them. I ended up buying a ukulele for Emma and a box full of […]

My Initial Love-Hate Relationship With India

My Initial Love-Hate Relationship With India

India is one of those polarizing destinations–people either love it or hate it. It’s raw and gritty, and I feel you have to be there awhile before you start to see the beauty of the place. Even then, it’s a love-hate relationship. Nothing is easy. […]


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 […]