Sustainable tourism - our vacations needn’t cost the Earth.

Sustainable tourism – our vacations needn’t cost the Earth

Ever since I was young, I have loved to see the world. The prospect of visiting foreign climes has always excited me, but in my younger days I never really considered the cost that these trips could incur on the planet. Fast-forward to the present day and it is heartening to know that like myself, many of us out there are increasingly concerned about travel’s impact on our environment and that companies are responding with greener initiatives. But what are some steps you can take to positively impact the environment?

Give staycation-ing a try

Why not try a staycation? One positive thing we all learnt from the pandemic-driven international travel restrictions was to appreciate what we have on our doorstep. Admittedly, ‘staying put’ can initially seem a little less glamorous than jetting off to another country, but you would be surprised how much of a holiday experience you can have without travelling too far. And if you live in the UAE, you are spoilt for choice.

As a hugely popular tourist destination, which earlier this year reported exceeding its pre-pandemic tourism revenue, the UAE is an incredibly popular destination. Our nation takes its climate responsibilities seriously. Dubai for example has a number of initiatives within the eco-tourism sector. From improvements to sustainable hotels and resorts, to conservation and nature initiatives, the city has a wealth of environmentally conscious attractions to visit.

What’s more, sustainable activities are available throughout the Emirates; try camel or horse riding, biking, camping or snorkelling. Perfect ways to take a short break and enjoy our nation’s unique landscape.

However, having just emerged from the pandemic, you, like me, may long to hop on a plane and see a bit more than the view outside your window. If this is the case, then a staycation won’t cut it.

Vacation, but thoughtfully

We all know that travel whilst good for the soul is not so good for our planet as unfortunately, it contributes heavily to our carbon emissions. But before you cancel your vacation plans, remember, all is not lost. Options are available to savvy travellers who wish to reduce the overall impact of their overseas adventures. All that’s needed is a little research.

The greatest contributor to the travel-related carbon footprint is transport, which accounts for nearly half of global tourism emissions. If you can choose a greener airline, you will help to reduce this percentage. I find that keeping up to date with airline initiatives is a great way to ensure that my trips are more sustainable. Etihad Airways for example currently has one of the most efficient fleets and has been testing eco-flights to help further reduce its emissions in the future. Taking the time to check the performance and initiatives of an airline can help you make seemingly small changes which have a big effect on our planet.

Another way to reduce your impact is to find an eco-hotel/resort. With a wealth of options out there, gone are the days of sleeping bags and canvas tents. There are some stunningly luxurious eco-conscious choices out there. For example, the sleek and modern Svart Hotel is situated on a beautiful Norwegian fjord, and the luscious green Mashpi Lodge in the Ecuadorian Chocó-Andean Cloud Forest is surrounded by nature and did not remove a single tree during its construction. Resorts like these can be found the world over and offer modern amenities, spectacular vistas and uncompromised levels of luxury while balancing their eco-credentials for a more sustainable future.

My final and perhaps favourite suggestion is to eat local. For me, one of the many pleasures of travelling is the opportunity to sample the national cuisine. Checking the credentials of your eatery not only ensures a delightful gastronomical adventure, but finding a venue which uses locally sourced produce also ensures your food only travelled a short distance from farm to plate. -An easy way to soak up some local culture and reduce your carbon footprint!

So, whether it’s choosing your airline, resort or even your dinner, it seems you can see the world and have a little less guilt for doing so. You just need to be aware of the issues and do your research.

Sustainability and travel can go hand in hand. And with the suggestions I’ve outlined here, we can all contribute toward net zero goals without compromising on doing the things we love.