Together with 10,000 other people, I embarked on Queens Park in the city of Toronto. The date was the 5th of July, 2015. The reason, to bring the attention for change in the way jobs, justice and climate is looked upon by the larger community. After travelling the world seeing many unique cultures, it is good to see there are positive ideas which bring people together around the globe. It made me think of my impact on the environment around me when I am a guest in another person’s country. Now the definition of environment does not only include anything of the flora or fauna variety. It includes the environment of a town, of a city, of a community, of the people in the community. The lifestyle which is impacted on where I stay, what I eat, how I travel and how their way of life affects me.
I have been lucky to explore the world little by little and I cherish every moment. Across the Earth there are large companies and politicians who are influenced by the greed of money. When it all comes down to it, the economy can be wiped out and no one would have anything of value. It is all only numbers written on a piece of plastic, paper or screen. What is valued is the environment around us. Canada has taken a step in the right direction. 68 individual groups stood united and marched down the streets of Toronto, stopping traffic and public transport. The spectacle of the march put it in to perspective that there are a lot of people who are willing to make an impact.
So what is sustainable tourism and how can you benefit not only yourself but the environment around you?
My idea of sustainable tourism is to leave a positive impact in the environment whilst interacting with a destination. There is a saying of ‘take only photos and leave only footprints’ and this is a good basis of sustainable tourism. We can break sustainable tourism into two groups. The first group is the ‘visitors’ to the area. The onus is on you to respect local cultures, immerse yourself into the local community, take care of the local environment and to choose local companies. The second group to take responsibility are the people of the destination. They are the ones who make rules and regulations to manage the environment and showcase their home without leaving major impacts for future generations. This group have much more of a challenge than the visitors. Money and greed plays a large influence on the decisions and the economy. Don't take a seat and watch the world go by, take a proactive approach.
With the ease of travelling across borders, seas and land becoming easier and cheaper a lot more people are getting itchy feet and heading off on escapades to another destination. I see some people travel to a destination but don’t actually visit the surrounding land of the resort or interact with the community. The idea of escaping the norm of life and allowing yourself to be free, not worry about time or any deadlines but only to stay in a ‘resort’ which is in a compound, having meals at designated times and follow the resort rules is definitely not my cup of tea. To make matters worse, the resorts are usually owned by multinational companies who take money out of the local economy. This is definitely not sustainable tourism.
The world has created some spectacular landscape over its time and its forever changing. The Great Barrier Reef is not named after ‘Sir Edward Great’, it is named after the reef ecosystem which stretches over 1200kms, home to 40,000 species of fish and coral, the largest living organism seen from space and is truly great. This provides a catch 22 situation. With something being so great, it means a lot of people want to see it. It is how we manage and look after the reef and surrounding environment will determine if the reef will continue to be great for future generations. Visitors do carry the responsibility of following the rules set in place to care about their direct impact on the environment.
We all take a part on how to shape the future of travel. Let me know your thoughts on what sustainable tourism is by contacting me or posting on the Facebook page.