Sustainable tourism is one of the emerging tourism trends in the 21st century. The idea of sustainable tourism, or ecotourism, is visiting a place as a tourist and attempting to only make a positive impact on that location’s economy, society, and environment. Every industry has impacts, especially tourism, and thus will never be completely sustainable. It is possible to become more sustainable travellers, however. Sustainable tourism is all about adaptation.

Pros and Cons

One of the biggest cons about sustainable tourism is air travel. Aviation accounts for over half of transportation CO2 emissions.

To be truly eco-friendly, it may mean eliminating air travel from your trip entirely.

Obviously this can make it difficult to visit certain places. Some airlines now have the option for passengers to purchase a carbon offset ticket, but typically a fee is charged. Thus, flying becomes more expensive. Popular destinations for ecotourism may become over-visited, which could damage the natural environment. Local indigenous people can also become “tourist attractions”, with their culture and heritage exposed and potentially ridiculed. There are definitely some advantages to sustainable tourism, however. It does provide the opportunity for local inhabitants to generate revenue from tourists in areas where there may be poverty. It also allows tourists to experience certain environments and locations in their natural state without any urbanization or repercussions from industrialism.

Popular Destinations

sustainable4 One of the most popular destinations for eco-tourists is Costa Rica. Its rushing river rapids, thick rain forests, black sand beaches and misty cloud forests offer plenty of activities and experiences for nature enthusiasts and adventure travellers. Costa Rica also has a thriving wildlife, with animals such as sea turtles, jaguars, crocodiles, sloths and monkeys. Kenya is another popular destination, particularly for tourists wishing to experience exotic animals up close. Kenya’s wild savannas are full of lions and elephants, but most travellers do not realize the significant number of rain forests, lakes, and mountains Kenya also has to offer. Kenya’s natural diversity is protected in over 50 national reserves and parks.

Road Less Travelled

For those sustainable tourists who wish to visit less known destinations, the Norwegian fjords are the first place to start. Norway’s strict environmental regulations (such as regulating sealing, whaling, and fishing) and the remote location of the fjords have helped preserve their beauty and well-being. sustainable3 Travellers can bike or hike over the rugged terrain or take a beautiful boat cruise through the towering fjords. Another destination is Kerala, India. Kerala was once threatened by deforestation, but these forests are now protected and environmentally friendly travel in the area is encouraged by tourist officials. Often referred to as “God’s Own Country”, Kerala is one of India’s most unspoiled corners, home to many different plant and animal species.

Costs and Savings

The cost of sustainable travelling and tourism depends on what kind of trip you plan on taking. For those tourists who wish to avoid hotels and luxury, it can be a far cheaper form of travel. For those travellers who are accustomed to staying in hotels, however, but wish to become more eco-friendly travellers, it may be more expensive, largely because eco-friendly hotels tend to be more expensive. According to Josh Cohen, the owner of Wild Plant Adventures (a company which specializes in ecotourism), a sustainable tourism trip should run between $225 and $300 a day, including all activities, lodging, and meals.