Want to be an eco-responsible tourist this summer? There are a lot of eco-labelled operators out there, but in the end it all comes down to your individual choices: who you chose to travel with, and how.
But don’t despair, your eco-holiday need not be a chore. There’s a wealth of tips and ideas on forums on the web. A good place to start your search is the The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). It is the world’s oldest and largest ecotourism organization and celebrates its 20th birthday this year.
“We hope to provide information and educational opportunities for both businesses and individual travellers. Things like how you can travel more responsibly by sharing examples of best practices,” says Ayako Ezaki, communication director at TIES.
The organization is U.S.-based, but their focus is international.
“The awareness of the importance of being more sustainable in tourism is spreading throughout, not just in eco-lodges and small business but also in hotels and larger chains. You can really see a change,” says Ezaki.
There are many local, regional and international eco-labels and accreditations out there. It’s not easy to see the forest for the trees sometimes. “On the one side it is positive there are many tools for the travellers, but on the other it is a challenge. It creates confusion knowing what means what,” says Ezaki.
An attempt to address this problem is the creation of The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria sustainabletourismcriteria.org and the setting up of The Tourism Sustainability Council that will be launched this year.
But you get a long way with common sense and informed choices: “Regardless where and how far you are travelling, everything you do from choosing who to travel with, what to bring with you and taking from the destination gives you an opportunity to make a difference,” says Ayoko.