To most people, “sustainable” is synonymous with “eco-friendly.” They think of geothermal-powered hotels, conservation efforts, and companies concerned with their carbon footprints.
And it’s true that being environmentally-conscious is a big part of being sustainable. But it’s not the only thing to consider. An attraction or destination can be as “green” as green can be, and still not be sustainable.
When it comes to sustainability, there are actually three “pillars” to consider: environmental, economic, and socio-cultural. Tourism has to be sustainable in all three areas to truly be considered “sustainable tourism.”
So why should we care about sustainability?
Well, the fact is, sustainable tourism actually benefits everyone involved, and not just one half of the equation. Unsustainable tourism might be fine from the point of view of the tourist, but it’s unlikely to benefit or gain support from the host community.
And, at the end of the day, tourism should not be a one-way street. Everyone involved should be benefiting from it in one way or another.
So, the next time you’re torn between two attractions or destinations or hotels or tour companies, consider these points: Which one is locally-owned? Which one is more eco-friendly? Which one employs local people? Which one contributes the most to the local economy? Which one is more sensitive to its impacts on the host community?
Basically, which one is more sustainable?
Considering these points just might change the way you travel.