When you love nature and beautiful landscapes, it is necessarily logical to plan an ecological holiday, and yet... What is responsible tourism? How to organize holidays with respect for biodiversity, the environment and local communities?
What exactly is responsible tourism?
Responsible tourism is not a new movement. It dates from 1970 and is based on the principles of sustainable development. The actors of responsible tourism, or eco-tourism, employ practices that are sustainable, even beneficial, for their environment.
On vacation, you can experience a change of landscape while respecting nature and supporting people, communities and companies committed to an ecological approach. Responsible tourism also invites you to meet a community and lifestyles that limit the harmful consequences, if not zero, on the surrounding nature.. This more harmonious life can inspire daily steps once the holidays are over!
Learn to be more respectful of people
Responsible tourism is also concerned with the human side and offers local communities the opportunity to develop their own creative and sustainable industries. Health, education of children and community services are also part of the process. Responsible tourism is also committed to preserving cultural heritage, in particular by highlighting ancestral knowledge and practices.
Finally, it should also be kept in mind that responsible tourism is based on the notion of self-sufficiency. For example, excursions or reception facilities are located in places that are sufficiently accessible, autonomous and self-sufficient; therefore, no need to call on suppliers or other services.
How to go on vacation according to the principles of responsible tourism?
Do not forget that responsible tourism is both humanistic and ecological. There are therefore a multitude of ways to approach this approach. Here are 5 principles to limit your environmental and human impact during these precious moments of relaxation.
1. Move and live in slow motion
The latest IPCC report recommends a carbon footprint of 2 tonnes of CO2 per capita per year. Since travel forms an important part of our carbon footprint, along with food and housing, modes of transport are one of the biggest levers for reducing carbon emissions.
As such, booking a Brussels - Rio flight for responsible tourism in the Amazon is difficult to defend. If a foreign culture, an amazing landscape and the classic beach photo make you dream, you can also find relaxation and a change of scenery in closer countries where we could go by train. Finally, summer and its high temperatures invite you to slow travel and to take the time to discover a territory over a longer period of time, rather than changing location every 3 days. A landscape scrolling in slow motion is entirely compatible with sweet idleness, by the way!
2. Choose your activities and service providers well
Going through responsible tourism players makes it possible to participate in the restoration of natural environments and the prosperity of local businesses. Excursions should take place in places that have minimal impact on the environment. In addition, they should value the ancestral communities that occupy it. For example, you can book a stay on a family permaculture farm to learn how to maintain compost or plant seedlings.
Over time, a multitude of ecotourism labels have developed, here are a few:
ATR (Acting for responsible tourism) or the Fair tourism label evaluate tour operators.
Green Globe issues certifications to various tourism players worldwide.
Biosphere Tourism rewards companies that act for the protection of natural and cultural heritage in Spain, Mexico and the United States.
3. Respect nature conservation areas
Without a doubt, the local fauna and flora make the beauty of the landscape. The notion of respect for nature is important to transmit to children. For example, if you see that a coastal path is delimited by cordons, show that you must stay on the indicated path and avoid trampling protected species.
Ditto for the local fauna, what measures are taken to protect the landscape and species made vulnerable by human activity? A cruise to observe "protected" dolphins in a nature reserve in the presence of 20 other boats is crazy ecological nonsense. Instead, you can walk dogs at the nearest SPA or participate in a waste collection with an association. Take a photo of the beach before and another after to show the result, it's really satisfying!
4. Feed on local and sustainable agriculture
Food is a powerful lever for responsible tourism. A good starting point is to eat at local restaurants who use seasonal products whenever possible. We can also contribute to the reduction of food waste, especially during picnics, by using reusable packaging and taking a water bottle.
If single-use plastic objects are starting to be banned in several countries, keep in mind those that are usually found in the landscape and the stomachs of wild animals: straws, cotton swabs and plastic cups.
5. Accommodation with reduced impact on the environment
One of the first criteria for a successful holiday is accommodation. A whole category of hotel industry players are striving to adopt greener practices: waste treatment, renewable energy contracts, local supply of organic products, etc. Note in passing that camping is not always equivalent to a sustainable option, between encroachment in a protected area and abuse of natural resources.
Here is a selection of eco-labels focused on the hotel sector:
The green key concerns accommodation in Europe and North Africa
- The very demanding European Ecolabel recognizes accommodation structures from HR practices to electricity and water consumption.
- The French association The Nature Way brings together ecotourism campsites
Immerse yourself in responsible tourism to change your daily life
The excesses of our consumer society are numerous and sometimes go unnoticed on a daily basis. Holidays offer an ideal time and setting to learn how to reduce our carbon footprint, fight against plastic pollution and support companies with ecological practices. Many of these actions are part of habits to adopt in one's daily life, the slow operation of holidays offers an ideal framework to put into action the lessons of responsible tourism.