The start of the COVID-19 pandemic brought hardships to many industries, requiring them to make significant changes to keep everyone safe. One of the industries that were hit the hardest was travel. Travel restrictions and rising COVID-19 cases led to less vacationing and more time spent at home.
Even though travel is becoming more common again, it may never be the same as before, but that’s okay! There are plenty of ways for your vacations to be just as safe and enjoyable as before. In addition to making travel safer for people, the future will also need more sustainable global travel to protect our environment.
Vacations and Travel After COVID
In 2020, there was a 74% decrease in international visitors, which caused a $1 trillion loss in profits. Even though travel has gradually improved since then, it will be a slow progression to get where we were before the pandemic began.
Since vacationing is finally becoming common again, it’s the perfect opportunity to rebuild tourism in a unique way. Airlines, hotels, and other travel companies are going above and beyond to make their environments clean and low-risk for visitors. Ensuring that travel is safe for humans is a great start, but these travel changes are also a chance for us to focus on improving other areas of tourism.
Keeping the planet sustainable is crucial so future generations can enjoy fun travel experiences. So, in addition to focusing on changes related to COVID, this reset of the travel industry can bring improvements to our planet’s health too.
Considering Environmental Effects
Climate change, capacity constraints, unnecessary waste, and too many tourists are all important aspects to consider as travel returns around the world. If we don’t start focusing on these issues now, sustainable global travel in the future may not be achievable. Large companies and individual tourists need to work together to make the world a safer place.
According to a 2018 study, 8% of the greenhouse gas emissions between 2009 and 2013 were caused by global tourism. That number is about four times higher than the previous report. Those statistics could harm the progress of the Paris Agreement if we don’t do anything about it.
Overcrowding at tourist destinations is also a major concern. The top 20 tourist destinations are expected to have more international travel than all the rest of the world combined. “Over-tourism” can affect the quality of life in a specific area due to an increase in air pollution, waste, and water consumption. While COVID halted major tourist attractions from receiving record-breaking visitor numbers, they will likely grow in popularity soon with COVID restrictions lifting.
So, the pandemic gave us an opportunity to reset the travel industry, allowing us to find ways to make vacationing more sustainable and better for our planet. Every tourist can make a difference by making more sustainable choices when leaving their home.
How Can We Make Global Travel Sustainable?
Even though the amount of travel and tourism is increasing, people remain more cautious with their travel choices. They’re more likely to take relaxing vacations away from crowds to lower the risk of getting sick. Many travellers are also more conscientious about how their travels affect others and the planet.
So, if enough people have this mindset, the environment will benefit. Here are some tips for making your vacation plans more sustainable.
To achieve a sustainable future for travel, we need to work together. Many hotels and resorts are already working toward a circular economy by limiting single-use plastics and providing sustainable tips to guests. 53% of guests have already expressed that they want to reduce the amount of waste they create when travelling. If “greener” travel options are proposed to guests, many people will choose them.
Bring as many reusable products on your trip as possible. Reusable water bottles, bags, and toiletry bottles are all great resources to bring along. If you need to fly to your destination, use digital boarding passes and reusable luggage tags.
Reduce Water and Energy
Vacations are times when people are often more wasteful than usual. To change that, you should reduce the amount of water and energy you use at your hotel. You likely won’t be spending much time in your room, so don’t leave lights on while you’re away. Many hotels now recommend that you reuse your towels before having the staff wash them to save water. You can also put a sign on your door if you don’t want your sheets washed either.
Planes and cars cause the most carbon emissions when travelling, so if possible, travel via bus, train, or bicycle at your destination rather than renting a car. Many travellers are also more likely to waste food on vacation since they can’t bring it home. So, order smaller portions or eat leftovers if your hotel has a kitchen space.
Sustainable Flight Options
Some flights have made changes to reduce carbon emissions during travel. While it’s not the main source of power for planes yet, some sustainable aviation fuel options are growing in popularity. Researchers are working on technology for planes that fly solely on electricity.
Research your airline options in advance to see if one is more eco-friendly than another. Some airlines might offer a “carbon offset program” to help reduce or neutralize the carbon footprint that travels causes. When you purchase a plane ticket, there may be an option to add that program to your travel plans.
Before you fly, make sure to bring your own pair of earbuds. Many passengers buy the cheap, flimsy earbuds that airlines sell, only for them to be discarded or lost shortly after. It might not make a huge difference, but every effort to reduce waste can help.
Visit Unique Locations
A great way for travellers to help with a sustainable future is by choosing destinations beyond the most common options. By choosing to visit hidden gems rather than the most popular locations, you can help reduce over-tourism near major landmarks, leading to less litter and pollution. Then, your vacation will also be more relaxing and allow you to see the world in a new way.
Beloved destinations like Machu Picchu, Amsterdam, and Iceland are struggling due to over-tourism. If you don’t want to reconsider your location, try visiting during the off-season and explore areas away from the crowds.
Regardless of your destination, you should consider extending your trip if possible. Many tourists spend most of their time running from one attraction to the next, but giving yourself extra time will put less stress on you and the environment around you. Take the time to experience the culture, and support local businesses rather than adding to the chaos of major tourist attractions.
Be Respectful in Wildlife Areas
Many tourists love to visit wildlife areas. Experiencing nature is a great way to fill your itinerary, but you need to be respectful of the environment. Whether you’re at a wildlife reserve, national park, or safari, it’s always important to keep your distance from wild animals and avoid disturbing them. Follow the rules implemented by the parks because those rules are there to protect both you and the animals.
When exploring any wildlife area, it’s best to go with an experienced guide. Guides know the safest and best ways to witness the wildlife, so it’s the best way to respect your surroundings while also having an enjoyable time. A great guide will be knowledgeable about the native species and will make the experience exciting even if you didn’t see as many animals as you’d hoped.
Avoid animal experiences that are invasive or harmful to wildlife. It can be tempting to pet, hold, or take selfies with animals, but most of those experiences are putting the animals in danger or distress. So, focus on the attractions that let animals go about their daily lives instead.
Volunteer While Travelling
If you want to help the environment while also seeing the world, volunteering in different locations is an option. Many countries welcome volunteers to help with conservation projects, including agriculture, waterway, and jungle conservation. You can gain new travel experiences while benefiting the planet.
Approximately 1 billion people volunteer worldwide, which is about 13% of the global population. While that sounds like a large number, there is always room for more volunteer work. So, whether or not you’ve volunteered before, volunteering while you travel could be a rewarding and life-changing experience.
All countries need volunteer work, but some have a wider range of needs than others. India, Haiti, Brazil, and Mexico are just a few countries that need help in their environment and community. Despite having a lot of poverty in certain areas, abroad volunteer locations are also beautiful and have a lot of cultures to learn about.
However, if you choose to volunteer abroad, it’s ideal to have some skills going into it. Otherwise, locals will have to spend extra time with training, which could hurt more than help. If you don’t feel qualified for your desired volunteer work, consider other volunteer options, volunteer locally instead, or donate to organisations during your vacation.
Choose Sustainable Accommodations
Where you stay has a big influence on how eco-friendly your trip is. Consider staying at locally-owned hotels and motels to help the destination’s community. Hotels owned by locals are often less wasteful than the large familiar chains. Also, choosing a hotel that’s close to public transportation or within walking distance of major attractions can reduce the amount of carbon emissions created.
Some hotels and resorts go above and beyond to reduce their energy and water use. Look for accommodations that use renewable energy sources, such as solar-powered lights. Sustainable hotels may also take advantage of large windows and skylights during the day so they don’t have to waste electricity when it’s light outside.
Look for hotels that aim to reduce water use. They could take advantage of rainwater harvesting, greywater systems, or low-water washing machines and other appliances. If you’re unsure how sustainable a hotel is, check its website. Most hotels will happily share the ways they benefit the environment.
Every Person Makes an Impact
Tourists and companies in the travel industry both play a role in making more sustainable and eco-friendly decisions for vacations. A future with sustainable global travel has always been possible, but since the travel industry is being rebuilt after the COVID pandemic, it’s the perfect opportunity to implement some long-overdue changes.
During your vacation, be respectful of the local community and be conscientious about how your actions affect the environment.
Visit Tsylos Park Lodge!
There are plenty of hidden gems all over the world that tourists haven’t considered. If you’re looking for somewhere that’s fun, beautiful, and sustainable, consider visiting Tsylos Park Lodge & Adventures in Chilko Lake, British Columbia. You can stay at a mesmerizing wilderness lodge surrounded by clear waters and massive mountains. It’s a great destination for guests who love horseback riding, fly fishing, and wildlife photography.
Sustainability is a priority at Tsylos. Whenever we learn about new methods to make our property environmentally friendly, we find ways to incorporate that technology into your stay. Some sustainable aspects include our solar-powered lodge, gravity-fed water system, and organic garden.
With tourism growing in popularity again, it’s the perfect time to focus on sustainable global travel. If more people are conscientious about their impact on the environment, the future will be brighter. Guests looking for a one-of-a-kind trip at a sustainable destination can contact Tsylos to start planning the trip of a lifetime.