The Environmental Impact of Travel

Travelled by Shane Gladigau on 24 October 2008 | 0 Comments

The Environmental Impact of Travel
The Environmental Impact of Travel
Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

We, as human beings, do not exist in isolation we are embedded within and dependent upon the natural world and any action we take has repercussions. However, sometimes we fail to take into consideration the possible consequences of those actions.

The technological development of long distance travel, the desire to see new worlds and experience new cultures, coupled with the development of the tourism industry to cater to our every desire, means there is now no longer a corner of the world that we cannot reach. It means the footprint we leave behind in those places we visit is a heavy one.

Encounters with wildlife

Encounters with wildlife

Moving around, either by plane, by car, by bike or by foot, changes things. As travellers, (more often than not, as one time visitors), it’s possible we can have an irreversible impact on the local environment.

However, it’s also possible that we can have a positive impact by choosing those companies that are committed to environmentally sustainable principles, education of visitors and encouragement of community awareness.

This way, we can at least attempt to minimise any negative impacts and enjoy a more meaningful experience, rather than giving our savings to environmentally thoughtless operators exploiting sights for short-term financial gain.

If an attraction, tour company or venue is touting itself as “environmentally friendly”, there are several questions to ask to find out if they seriously “walk their talk”:

  • What is its environmental policy? Are they legitimate, or simply using it as a marketing ploy? (This is known as ‘green-washing’).
  • What practices have been adopted to make the business eco-friendly and sustainable? For example, do they recycle water and wastes? Do they restrict visitor numbers into a particular area?
  • Is an educational program in place to educate visitors about an area’s history, culture and the wildlife it contains (and how close you can get to it or how far you should keep away from it!).
  • Do they help protect local wildlife and fauna, or provide financial support for revegetation and conservation?
  • Do they pack out whatever is packed in?
  • Do they offer a carbon neutral experience?
Wilderness hiking

Wilderness hiking

The opportunity exists to create a better world or at least not have as big a negative impact, if you are prepared to search for the right experience.

Tourism has always been reliant on showcasing natural environments and ecotourism is becoming a niche market where positive environmental outcomes are being incorporated into services provided.

The main goals of ecotourism are:

  • An experience allowing people to gain a greater appreciation and awareness of the natural world.
  • A way of positively contributing to the conservation of the place where the tourism is occurring.
  • An experience which can help raise awareness of the local indigenous/native culture.
  • Creating an environmentally sustainable industry with long-term employment prospects.
  • Providing a catalyst for governments and local communities to preserve areas for their tourism value.
Adventure Trips

Adventure Trips

With growing concerns about the environment, ecotourism will continue to gain importance as a holiday choice. Greater numbers of people desire an experience that contributes to wiser management of natural areas.

You, as a backpacker, have the power to create positive environmental outcomes through wise choices of holiday destinations and experiences while on the road travelling.

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