Did you know that more Americans now rank protecting the environment as a top priority than ten years ago? Or that 63 percent of people agree stricter environmental regulations are worth economic trade-offs? Protecting the planet is a major objective for most families. But when it comes to travel, you may have questions about how to do so sustainably.
From concerns about carbon footprints to impacts on local communities, how do you find eco-friendly, sustainable adventures? Through thoughtfully planned and executed vacations, you can travel to save the planet.
But Isn’t Air Travel the Culprit?
The airline industry has weathered much scrutiny in recent years. Of course, flights put emissions in the atmosphere. More than 4.6 billion seats transported passengers via commercial planes in 2019, emitting 918 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Yet, these flights still only contributed 2.4 percent to global emissions. You can further shrink your carbon footprint in the air. How? By opting for more efficient, longer flights to fewer destinations.
Greenhouse gas emissions from other industries prove far greater according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Worldwide livestock production alone contributes 14 percent of total emissions! Let’s put this in perspective. Fourteen percent is equal to emissions from all types of transportation globally. This figure includes ships, planes, trains, and cars.
Travel to Save the Planet
Ecotourism can support environmental awareness and sustainability. What do we mean by travel in the service of the environment? International tourism generated $1.48 trillion US dollars in 2019, according to the World Bank International. The tourism industry is a powerhouse and economic driver. But it also inspires people to want to do better. Eighty-seven percent of travelers want to travel sustainably. And 60 percent say the reason why is directly tied to past experiences at impressive natural sights.
The same green spaces that attract tourists also act as some of the largest carbon absorbers on Earth. Especially when it comes to tropical forests. Yet, many of these areas remain under threat. Why? Because of activities such as cattle ranching. The loss of verdant landscapes to accommodate livestock represents a greenhouse gas double whammy. What’s more, these often prove the most biodiverse regions in the world, providing habitat to threatened species.
The extractive and mining industries also pose risks to cherished lands. Fortunately, travelers can exert a positive influence. How? By making the maintenance of pristine natural settings a worthwhile, lucrative enterprise. For example, tourism to Brazil contributes to preservation of vital areas of wilderness, protecting them from bulldozers and slash and burn land clearing. It can also provide local communities with viable ways to earn money while maintaining traditional homelands and lifeways.
Supporting Sustainable Livelihoods
When properly managed, the tourism industry demonstrates that you can have your cake and eat it, too. Preserving ecosystems and generating revenue can go hand in hand. Travel increases awareness about supporting wildlife initiatives. It can also contribute to helping out eco-friendly businesses and promoting sustainable practices. In a nutshell, tourism provides nature a value.
Of course, the last statement doesn’t ignore the intrinsic value of natural resources. But money from tourism permits nations with limited resources to justify spending on conservation. Unlike activities such as extraction, tourism doesn’t have to irreparably degrade the land. When properly managed, it’s a renewable resource. The dollars tourists pour into other nations’ economies can also go towards better education, environmental projects, and healthcare for local communities.
Promoting Local Pride
Travel teaches tourists to appreciate natural destinations. But it also contributes to national pride and environmental awareness. It teaches locals to value their homelands. For example, the African nation of Zimbabwe recently started a program encouraging locals to visit national parks. They enjoy a reduced rate. Yet, the local visitor funds still go a long way towards support arks during the off-season.
Like visits from internationals, local traffic to these areas fuels jobs. It places the impetus on putting the environment first. National parks also act as gateways to other destinations within a country. For example, a visit to Brazil’s Pantanal Matogrossene National Park may lead tourists to visit cities like Rio de Janeiro. A stay in the Gálapagos Islands could inspire a family to tour Ecuador’s mainland.
Raising Good Global Citizens
As parents, we are in the unique position of impacting how future generations will perceive and treat the world. But how do we teach our children to intuitively connect with the planet and engage in the fight to protect it? It starts with the basics. Remember, we protect what we know. Travel is the best way to teach younger generations to appreciate the planet and care for it later.
When you introduce your children to different cultures and parts of the world, you raise good global citizens. Not only will these kids grow up with a greater appreciation for the planet and the people who inhabit it, but they’ll also develop a love for different ecosystems, and the plants and wildlife within them.
Good Travel Choices Start With You
How can you travel to save the planet?
Make visiting biodiverse places a priority. Especially those locations facing pressures from industry and local governments. In the process, you’ll contribute to the economic viability of protecting these special areas.
Offset your carbon emissions by flying more efficiently. Take longer routes and avoid stopovers. Avoid unnecessary plane flights where possible.
Do extra research to find eco-friendly companies that put the planet first, from hotels to tour operators. For example, we make sustainability a top priority at Our Whole Village. This is reflected in the wide variety of family vacations that we offer to some of the planet’s most biodiverse locations.
Tourism, and Sustainability
Our family travel experiences support tourism, sustainability, and local communities. We love finding educational opportunities to learn about new cultures. And engaging in activities and conservation efforts that contribute to a healthier, happier planet. Whether it’s lending a hand with sea turtle conservation in Baja or the chance to purchase artisanal handicrafts from rainforest communities of the Amazon.
We remain committed to providing eco-friendly travel that will change us and the globe for the better.
Are you interested in a vacation that takes you deeper and helps the planet?