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Sustainable Tourism Blog Series 1/4: What is Sustainable Tourism?

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

Our founder, Anina Monteforte, with the former Director of Seven Women in Nepal

Travel does not just have to be self-serving and harmful to the environment. It is an industry with immense opportunities to make the world a better place.

Whether we’re traveling abroad to relax and sightsee, explore another culture, or take part in a service project abroad in a meaningful way there’s a common objective among travelers these days. What’s that? There is an increasing desire to have a holistic travel experience where they can have an adventure and fun while also making a positive impact on local communities in the destination they visit. This is an important mindset to have, especially in the wake and aftermath of COVID19, in order to reshape tourism into a more sustainable, inclusive, and responsible industry that can benefit the world.

How do we ensure our trips are sustainable and responsible?

With a little bit of effort, we can ensure having travel experiences that benefit us, local communities, and the world. It’s important to first understand the differences between phrases that are used interchangeably when it comes to different types of tourism. Here we’re breaking down the different types of tourism and why they are important.

Eco-friendly Tourism

This is a voyage that focuses on environmentally friendly activities and accommodations. The main purpose of these trips is environmentally driven. In this case, tourists get to sightsee nature and wildlife with as little disturbance to the natural environment as possible. The accommodations that are labeled as ‘eco-friendly’ operate in a way that does not damage the ecosystem and or local community, instead, many benefit it such as by utilizing solar energy and not cutting down trees to clear land.

Protecting nature and leaving it untouched is an important part of Ecotourism

Sustainable Tourism

This is perhaps the most known term among the types of tourism. In sustainable tourism, trips are designed to incorporate accommodations and trip activities that are inclusive and have long term benefits for local communities. It fosters cross cultural interactions where travelers respect the customs, environment, and local people instead of “mass tourism” practices that are complacent and harm the community. Through sustainable tourism, resources are also not depleted but rather utilized in a way that is not wasted and this promotes circular processes of service, economy, and consumption.

Responsible Tourism

In responsible tourism, services and trip activities are inclusive of generating income into the local economy, supporting local businesses and entrepreneurial services, protecting the environment, and being more mindful and culturally aware of the local community. For example, you can opt to eat out at a locally-owned restaurant providing cultural cuisine instead of ordering from a corporate international food