“The impact of tourism on the world can be negative or positive, and our goal is to see to it that the travel industry is a force for good.” Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the UNWTO
By Leah Larkin
Tourism is booming. Travelers now set off to explore far-off, exotic destinations—places many of us have never even heard of. Citizens of India and China are joining the ranks of international globe trotters. Tourism, considered one of the world’s fastest growing industries, provides jobs and contributes trillions to the global economy—about 10 percent according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
All the success and skyrocketing numbers, however, come with a hefty price to the environment. As tourism soars, so do green house gas emissions. Water consumption increases. Waste management becomes more challenging. Natural resources are increasingly strained in popular destinations.
Warnings about the disastrous effects on the planet of soaring pollution and the abuse of the environment become more foreboding each day. Sustainable travel has never been more critical. Recycling your hotel towels may be a start, but only a start.
Choose where, how and when you travel. Try to avoid top destinations in favor of off-the-beaten track spots. Travel off season. Select eco-friendly accommodations. When booking a hotel, look for the symbols Green Key, Green Leader or Green Globe Certified on the web sites. Opt for a non-polluting way to get around when at your destination (walk, bicycle).