Travelling has increasingly become a leisure, hobby, job prospect, rejuvenation process now and its importance and followers is on an incline. I remember the time when we went for trip once in a year with our parents during summer breaks. Now we can’t be away from travelling for more than 2 months. As the stress of economy or job increases, we tend to look for places to go to find solace, or go to shopping hubs if you are shopaholic or adventure sports trip if you are looking for something high on adrenaline or on a pilgrimage if you are very religious. The bottom line is we all want to travel, only thing that differs is where?
The GDP contribution of tourism has more than doubled in last 5 years and the employment offered has also shot to three times, which makes tourism industry economically sustainable. Means the government is getting sufficient return on investment from travellers and tourists to keep investing in development of this industry. But is the present tourism ecologically and environmentally sustainable? Can the places, we are visiting, sustain the impact of our presence?
The footfall in places of natural beauty has grown tenfold. More people means more amount of resources used, more litter and more damage done to the environment, the pollution level increases with increased no of visitors and if any of us have no concern with the environment then it makes things worse from environmental sustainability point of view. This triggers huge problems of river, air environment pollution leading to extinction of certain species and cause natural calamities if we act carelessly. If we want to keep visiting these places and enjoy looking at various flora and fauna and do not want to have a guilt later then we should become sustainable travellers. How ? is a very important question that comes to the mind .
Start with the principle of leaving the place better than you found it- you can make sure you don’t litter the environment when out for sightseeing especially throwing plastics causes a permanent damage to the environment. One can prevent water bodies from littering by not throwing stuff in the river when he is on religious trip or water sports adventure. For example too much of things “offered” to river Ganges has ruined the habitat of dolphins. Using steel water bottle that can be refilled, instead of multiple plastic bottles which we use and throw on the spot, can be helpful. In short leave the place in same or better condition than you found it but not worse.
Taking care of the mode of transport also makes you a sustainable traveller. A road trip with friends is no doubt great fun but causes additional pollution and damage so why not opt for public transport or ecofriendly transport like eco bikes and cars as much as possible. It will reduce our impact on environment. Use public amenities responsibly. We can travel in groups and yet enjoy the fun of solo travelling by selecting responsible tour operators. Lately, the market has been flooding with tour operators but only a few are environmentally aware and understand the importance of sustainable tours, so opting for these is better.
Lastly, we can all contribute a day or two of volunteer service or some financial aid to a local organization that takes care of the environment and pollution. Also if we respect the locals and the culture they will be more than happy to welcome us again ad make our trip memorable. A local of a small picturesque town summed up a visit saying since we all are going to be memories one day why not be a happy one. I understand it now totally. As travellers we bring back two things from our trip- pictures and memories and since we want to leave behind and bring back good memories it is highly ethical as well if we become sustainable travellers. Let’s make travelling sustainable and fun. Bon voyage!