How To Make A Difference With Travel This Earth Day

22 April 2018
Read Time: 4.0 mins

Across the globe in developed and developing parts of the world, plastic is king and it is everywhere. From poisoning and injuring marine life to littering our beaches and landscapes to contributing to tonnes of landfill every day.

people collecting rubbish on Cornwall beach Some Cornish locals collecting plastic and rubbish from their local attraction - the beach.

To address this, Earth Day on 22 April 2018 is dedicated to providing the information and inspiration needed to fundamentally change human attitude and behavior about plastics – because the domination of plastics in our lifestyle is now threatening the survival of our planet.

And a big impact that we humans can do revolves around one thing – educating ourselves. Awareness is key and a major imperative for Earth Day and where, if we realise the impact of our consumption of plastic, we are more likely to change our behaviour that will ultimately make the biggest change.

Greater Awareness Is Key

Greater awareness about how you can make a difference when travelling more responsibly also assists the Earth Day movement.  Here are five easy responsible travel trips, where with a little extra thought and preparation, you can ensure that you have a wonderful holiday while having only a positive impact on the destinations that you visit.

  1. CONSERVE water –

Much of the world suffers from a shortage of clean water so we can help by reusing hotel towels, taking short showers and turning off the tap!

Bali resort pool 80% of Bali's drinking water is used by tourists.
  1. REDUCE your waste –

Ditch the plastic bag, refuse unnecessary packaging, dispose of your waste responsibly and pick up rubbish too!  Recycle as much as possible.

  1. GO LOCAL –

Enjoy locally owned and operated restaurants and bars.  Shop in the local markets and stores and utilise the expertise of local guides when booking tours or activities.

  1. CARE ABOUT the wildlife –

Take a ‘look but don’t touch’ approach to wildlife activities and avoid any attractions that involve ‘performance’, riding or closely engaging with wild animals.  As a rule, any activity that an animal would not do in the wild is the result of exploitation.

Asian Elephant sanctuary A number of travel operators are removing elephant riding from their product ranges.
  1. RESPECT the local people and culture –

Along with obeying local laws, this relates to dressing and behaving in a manner appropriate to the community.  Learn about the people’s way of life, be polite and keep an open mind.  Ensure that your interaction with locals, including children, is respectful and appropriate.

Thai rural woman Be respectful of the traditional cultural practices and ways of the locals when you visit.

Good News!

The good news is that the responsible travel message is getting out there. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) recently conducted extensive research based in Britain showed that almost 70% of people now believe that travel companies should ensure their holidays help the local people and economy. With David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet II’ collecting a huge following and greater public awareness not only of environmental issues, but also of human rights and working conditions, this trend looks set to continue and be the key travel trend in 2018 and beyond.

In order to deliver on this growing demand for responsible tourism, travellers can expect much greater involvement by tour operators and hoteliers and the travel sector in general to deliver responsible tourism. Travel industry companies are starting to ensure the inclusion of social enterprise projects that give back to local communities, carbon-neutral group tours and the banning of plastics from beaches as part of their product ranges.

Empowering local communities is key for real responsible travel impact.

Animal welfare has also become a major issue and operators in the travel sector like Thomas Cook have committed to removing animal excursions such as elephant rides and swimming with dolphins from their activities list. Virgin Holidays has also announced they will no longer sell or promote any new attractions that feature captive whales and dolphins.

Flight Centre Travel Group is also making responsible tourism a key part of its strategic direction both now and into the future – it has become a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) to become part of the global movement to operate with socially responsible business practices, with its ability to drive responsible travel throughout its global footprint.

To read more about what is happening in the responsible travel space, visit FCTG’s Corporate Social Responsibility area.

Tara Young

The experience of travel changes a person. I see my job as highlighting what amazing travel opportunities there are to broaden your knowledge of that great big world beyond your doorstep and what you may learn about yourself on the way.