At a time when the world is beginning to make a concerted effort to be a good steward of our natural resources, people are actively seeking ways to incorporate clean living on both small and large scales. From recycling plastic containers and utilizing reusable bags when grocery shopping to purchasing hybrid or electric cars, it’s vital that we make these efforts to mitigate the ravages of climate change.
One way to see the world while still being environmentally friendly is through sustainable travel.
What is Sustainable Travel?
According to a National Geographic survey of 3,500 adults in the United States, there is strong support for sustainability. The survey also found that while “42 percent of U.S. travelers would be willing to prioritize sustainable travel in the future, only 15 percent of these travelers are sufficiently familiar with what sustainable travel actually means.”
Sustainable tourism, according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), creates a balance between environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of travel.
As such, the WTO states that sustainable tourism should:
- Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.
- Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
- Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.
Tours with Integrity
At Integrity Tours we take pride in doing our part to incorporate environmentally-friendly practices into our tours as well as finding ways to give back to the local community. We are committed to creating environmentally and socially responsible tours where we can, whenever we can. By instituting eco-friendly components to each of our tours, we are leaving a lighter footprint behind and providing a positive impact on the destinations and communities we visit.
There are many ways to incorporate environmentally and socially sustainable practices into a tour. Some of the ways we currently apply sustainable practices include:
- Offering and encouraging the use of reusable water bottles. Every year in America we throw away 22 million plastic bottles, enough to circle the earth four times. By encouraging and using reusable water bottles, we can cut down the amount of plastic in our world – one bottle at a time.
- Partnering with hotels (such as Marriott, Hilton, etc.) and restaurants that have eco-friendly and environmentally conscious programs. These programs make practice of offering optional linen services during your stay, donating leftover and unused soaps, shampoos, and lotaions to needy charities, using low-flow toilets and showerheads to cut down on water usage, offering recycling options for guests, and donating leftover food to local food banks and shelters.
- Partnering with bus companies to use less bus time at certain points during our tours. This means that fewer greenhouse gas emissions are released into the atmosphere, which has a positive impact on the environment. This also results in helping to cut down the cost of the tour.
Additionally, at Integrity Tours we feel that giving back to the local community through service and learning can help promote sustainability both within the local community and far beyond. Service programs such as helping to clean a local beach, serve a meal at a local food bank, or donating items to a local charity are all ways to have a direct impact on a community or cause in need. This type of service also builds character and is a great way for students to learn about the local community and ways in which they can support their community at home.
By choosing to travel responsibly, we are able to deeply enjoy and immerse ourselves in our travel experiences, while also leaving a positive impact on the community we visit. It is our goal that the lessons learned from sustainable travel will stay with our students for the rest of their traveling years.