by Violetta Teetor
The travel industry is growing at an unprecedented pace with numbers increasing from 1,2 billion to 1,8 billion in the very near future. It also accounts for 10% of the world’s GDP, provides 1/10 jobs and is responsible for a massive carbon footprint due to airline travel. To encourage people to travel less is hardly an alternative since it is a valuable resource in developing countries some of which would be deprived of much-needed income if it were radically reduced. Besides, we expand our knowledge of the world, become more tolerant of other cultures, enrich our lives by experiencing new destinations first hand and escape the ignorance bubble of thinking that all we need to know about the world is on our doorstep. But this industry is in dire need of decoupling from abusing resources.
Choosing to sail by ship to our country of choice, is simply not an option due to time restrictions. The suggestion is not that we should all start travelling by boat but what if this is so, holidays could be extended to become ‘staycations’ in stead of just ‘vacations’. Here’s how:
- Companies should get involved in work programmes whereby they transfer their employees to foreign places together with their families, to work and live there for periods of 6 months or more. The enrichment such an experience would bring to the table is immeasurable.
- Visas should be lengthened beyond the current 3 month maximum.
- Sabbaticals should be a requirement
And while we’re thinking of how we could gain from all this, what about the residence in these highly sought after spots that we so eagerly invade? Some villages, cities and countries, some with tiny populations, get overrun with tourists during high season. Resources are overwhelmed with all the demands made on them and it becomes all too easy for the traveller to complain causing angry rebuttals from locals who are then branded as ‘unfriendly’.
If you’re a visitor in a foreign country, that is exactly what you are, no more. We may dream of ‘staycations’ but if our holiday extends for a short week or maybe two, we should all be painstakingly aware of how we conduct ourselves.
No change of towels during your one week stay
No change of sheets
Use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and make your own bed, or not!
Where the bottle deposit is
Added to this:
Take your own trash home with you especially in places where recycling is minimal
Use containers for toiletries and cosmetics that can be reused over and over again
Eat and drink locally produced products
Eat less meat
Travel by land if possible using bicycles and public transport rather than renting a car
Travel light and carry your own water bottles
Treat your hosts with respect even in the face of frustration
Look into the projects that Future Camp is involved with and join their community of believers by checking out their Living Lab Hotel and their Zero Waste Hotel to reduce your carbon footprint and expand your mind in stead.