Even as the tourism sector starts to slowly recover from the pandemic, it's hard to imagine what the return of tourism will look like.
During the height of the lockdowns, the entire travel community was forced to pause and think about how to move forward from here. How the business and travellers operated before the pandemic needed to change in order to catch up with the changing times.
One thing that the over 2-year battle with the pandemic taught us is how fragile our world is and how we've been taking it for granted.
As you prepare to jump on a plane and explore once again, it's worth reflecting on how your smallest actions as a traveller can have a massive impact on our environment.
To help you out, here's our quick guide on how you can travel more sustainably. Before that, though, let's go over what sustainable travel is first.
What is sustainable travel, anyway?
In simpler terms, sustainable travel is a form of travel that minimises environmental footprint and maximises positive benefits for local communities and cultures.
Sustainable travel aims to achieve a balance between environmental health, human well-being, and economic growth. However, it’s more than just choosing to reuse hotel towels and taking eco-friendly transportation, but these are good places to start.
It's also about the wages and working conditions of workers who clean your hotel room, wait your tables, and drive you to your destination.
Travelling sustainably involves the marriage of corporate social responsibility with an educated tourist consumer who knows what they're looking for and their limits as a visitor.
The reason why sustainable travel is important is that it accounts for the immediate impacts felt today and those long-term impacts that will be experienced by future generations.
So, how can you travel sustainably?
Knowing what sustainable travel means is one thing, but putting what you know into practice is another story.
Here are some sustainable travel trends to keep in mind the next time you find yourself in a country that's not your own.
1. Choose destinations that value sustainability
The rule is, the shorter the distance, the lower the carbon footprint is. However, we can't always go to the same places just because of proximity.
As the world reopens, people would want to travel as far away as possible. When deciding where to go, try to find out how much value a country places on sustainability.
According to Euromonitor International, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Estonia, and Norway are the leading countries in sustainable tourism.
You might want to add these places to your itinerary, but we're not saying that these are the only countries worth visiting. Do your own research before travelling to make sure that the destination takes sustainability seriously as much as you do.
2. Stay in eco-friendly accommodations
Another sustainable travel trend worth trying is staying in eco-friendly and green accommodations. It can get quite overwhelming, though, as there are so many different forms of eco-lodging.
Essentially, eco-friendly accommodations are those built or operated in ways that minimise carbon footprint.
From wooden tree houses to airbnb, and even homestays, the options for sustainable lodging are plentiful, so you'll definitely find one wherever your destination is.
If you prefer to stay at hotels, make sure to enquire about their sustainability practices prior to booking. Some hotels use low-flow plumbing fixtures to conserve water, solar panels as their source of electricity, or observe extensive waste recycling programmes.
3. Support local economies
For every $100 spent during a trip, only $5 goes to support local communities. The best way to make sure local communities reap the benefits of tourism is by supporting local workers and businesses.
Instead of opting for popular chain restaurants, choose to eat at small local restaurants to experience traditional dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. It will benefit local farmers too.
Another thing you can do is to stay in guesthouses and locally owned homestays rather than at expensive hotel chains.
While you can still opt to shop at air-conditioned malls, don’t forget to support local markets and small retailers as well. Even though haggling is expected in many cultures, always try to pay a fair price.
Sustainable travel doesn’t mean letting go of everything you’re accustomed to as a traveller. It’s about being mindful of your actions as a visitor and extending support to local communities in every chance you get.
4. Avoid single-use plastics
While this is a practice that we should observe in our daily lives, we tend to get tempted by the convenience of single-use plastics while we're on the road travelling.
Thirsty from walking a lot? Just pop by a convenience store and grab a bottled water for less than a dollar. Lucky you, the solution is simple and obvious: bringing a reusable water bottle to your trip.
It can be a hassle carrying a Hydro Flask filled with water while walking but think of it as the least you can do as a tourist!
Another way to reduce plastic waste is by changing eating habits. Instead of getting takeout, dine-in so you're not creating waste out of plastic bags, containers, cups, and utensils.
5. Conserve water and energy
While long steamy showers are the perfect way to scrub off after a long day of exploring, your energy and consumption as a traveller can negatively impact locals.
Intensive energy and water use by tourists can put a massive strain on local water supplies and energy sources. Tourists tend to consume more water and energy than locals, forcing local communities to keep up with the demand.
When travelling, do what you can to save energy and water sources, including turning off lights and electronics when not in use and taking quick showers.
Making travel more sustainable
No matter what your destination is, it’s important to be mindful of the impact of your actions as a tourist.
Being on the lookout for things you can do, whether large or small, to help reduce your footprint and increase sustainability will benefit local communities in the long run.
If you’re looking for tours and activities in Singapore, feel free to get in touch! Monster Day Tours provides bespoke tours for everyone to enjoy.