As a Travel-lover aka Ajala, I love to collect or do things to show that I indeed went to that place…more like a souvenir or picture of evidence. Lol! But as I learn more about Sustainable Tourism, I have found that there are some things we, as ,need to stop doing and start doing to ensure our environment is safe and secured while traveling and exploring our wanderlust desires.
What is Sustainable Tourism? I love Wikipedia’s definition: “Sustainable Tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy.”
United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) gives a breakdown of what Sustainable Tourism should be:
1) Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.
2) Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
3) Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.
I have been following Sustainable Travel International
and Planeterra 50 in 50 Campaign
who are two Sustainable Tourism platforms I admire. They have shown that the tourism industry is a powerful tool to building the socio-economic of any nation. I recently did their Travel Better
training by Sustainable Travel International, a movement that aims at educating people to be conscientious travelers, a Sustainable Traveler. I believe every travel-lover and tourism enthusiast and basically anyone that travels should take this 30 minutes on-line training. You will learn so much about how to encourage sustainable tourism in your society. I did! 😏
My Travel Better Certificate 😊😊
Here are a few things I have learned on how to be a Sustainable Traveler and encourage Sustainable Tourism in Nigeira:
(1) TRAVEL CLEAN
* Book non-stop flights which encourages less jet-fuel. Reducing take-offs and landings creates less carbon emission.
* Do more of local traveling such as buses, cars, trains (Nigeria Railway Corporation
) and tricycles aka keke. Even try okada for the fun of it 😏 Taking public transport saves money, energy efficiency and can be even more exciting.
* Try walking or biking to the tour sites. There is no better way to enjoy and explore a city or town😉
(2) EAT LOCALLY
Picture credit – Internet
Eating locally would help in supporting the local economics and even the farming industry. This would also provide you with a much richer cultural experience with the local dishes of the places you visit.
(3) MANAGE WATER USAGE
* Take short showers. Turn off water while scrubbing, brushing your teeth and washing.
* Try and get a BPA-free reusable bottle to refill with water. This way you will not waste drinking water. Also avoid sachet or bottled water if possible. Plastic bottles and sachets cause water pollution especially in places like the beaches because they litter the ocean.
(4) LEAVE NO TRACE AND LEAVE IT!
* No littering. Pick up any trash. Keep the environment you visit as clean as possible. The ‘Leave No Trace’ helps to conserve the environment for future travelers and generations.
* Don’t take natural artifacts, leaves, flowers, sea-shells, even rocks and stones! It’s part of the land, so leave the little things that make impact…leave the land the way you met it. It shows that you respect and appreciate the place you visited.
(5) BUY LOCAL PRODUCTS
Picture credit – Internet
*Support the local economy by purchasing handmade local products. Buying arts and crafts from the locals helps to preserve the city’s or town’s cultural heritage.
* Don’t buy products made from animals, sea-shells, rocks and any product that would have been endangered to make souvenirs. This does not encourage preservation of the community’s environment.
(6) BE ECO-FRIENDLY
Photo Credit – Internet
* Reduce waste by turning off the lights and all electricity appliances when leaving your rooms. This would conserve energy.
* In hotels, re-use products in your room. To avoid throwing away products, take and reuse left over soap, shampoo and toothpaste. Try not to request for a new towel everyday.
* Recycle products. Reuse products. Reduce waste products.
Photo Credit – Internet
* Try to be involved in community service in the city or town or villiage you visit as a tourist. Help to keep and protect the ecosystem. Make sure the projects are truly benefiting to the local community. However, make sure you do your research before you volunteer.
* Find and join a small group tour operator that gives back to local communities. Ensure they hire or work with local tour guides. Ensure they preserve the natural resources at the various tourist destinations.
* Immuse yourself in the local culture by getting involved in activities they do that can preserve their environment. For example, join them in harvesting and planting, rearing their animals, afforestation, e.t.c.
As I keep learning about the benefits of tourism, I am in awe at how we can use it to develop not only our economical GDP but the social-economic benefits it brings to a community.
In fact, I love this summary of Sustainable travel and tourism by Meghan Werft of Global Citizen: “Traveling has a big impact on the planet. In 2015, over 60 million Americans traveled abroad. And the number of tourists from developing nations is growing rapidly each year. There’s little doubt that when browsing Instagram the majority of people love to travel, especially abroad. Heck, even just looking at other people traveling and learning about new places, people and awaiting adventures is exciting. And exploring diverse cultures across the globe is part of what connects humanity, makes people grow, and want to help each other. Travelling is good thing, and it’s even better when it’s done in a socially and environmentally sustainable way.”