Green Travel: Use the Power of Responsible Tourism

The economic buzz of green travel creates both practitioners and impostors. Responsible tourism is not a fad. Good operators understand the issues and incorporate appropriate practices as part of their business strategies, not as part of empty eco-slogans.
For earnest travellers it’s hard to decode all the eco-friendly greenwashing and determine what’s really happening to natural habitats and surrounding communities. This is the dilemma for tourists wanting to choose green destinations without contributing to ecosystem degradation or disrupting local economies.
Tourism operators have a choice to make as well. The current model still supports the pre-Internet generation, when tourist information moved as slow as a lingering tropical day. Today, however, the lightening speed of global communications and a newfound sense of social responsibility urge travellers to make conscientious decisions.
Tourists are no longer just carefree and whimsical sightseers; they are savvy consumers. Instead of just grabbing a Lonely Planet guide and heading out, these days tourists log on, read website travelogues, discuss issues on forums and research potential sites like a corporate raider getting ready for a company takeover.
In the climate change age, travellers seek to use their quota of carbon credits on environmentally sound destinations. They don’t want a journey spoiled by unsightly resorts where pipes spew sewage into beachfront waters or plastic bottles, soda cans and wet waste smoulders in a slow burn under a coconut tree.
“Resort operators have to stop thinking they can fool their customers,” professes Yessy Hidajat of Alila Ubud Resort in Bali. “Tourists are very intelligent and they shop around on the web, so nobody will believe if you just claim yourself as green, people have to see it.”
Tourists have ample choices on where to spend their holiday dollars. And the tourism industry is starting to get the message. More and more families and groups choose faraway vacation spots based on a mental checklist that includes preventing pollution, using recycled products, protecting nature and giving back to surrounding communities.
Green travel is about responsibility and taking control. When tourism includes local communities, helps distribute revenues throughout villages and promotes conservation of natural areas, then all parties – private resorts, local authorities and village residents – are in control of their resources.
Throughout Asia, resorts and ecotourism ventures are learning the lessons of going green. They understand that making the effort to be responsible is a winning proposition.
For travellers, now is the time to harness the power of choice into a more powerful green message.
Learn more about responsible tourism and how both travelers and operators can play a role at Wild Asia ‘s Responsible Tourism Initiative.

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