Travelling is a great thing to do. It can help you grow as a person whether it be gaining more experience, meet new people or even just to expand their food pallet. Travelling is a healthy part of life. It can also have many benefits for the tourist destinations which bring in money to the area, create jobs for the local people and promote conservation and sustainability.
However, there are some dark sides of tourism which negatively effects a lot of people. Sometimes you might not always be aware of these. The choices we make about what we do abroad especially in less wealthy countries makes a massive difference to the kind of practices that are used and ensure the wrong people don’t benefit from the income generated by tourism.
Another issue being faced with tourism is reducing our carbon foot print. It is a fact that global warming is a real threat. Yet our while our cars may be being adapted for the future by converting them to electric. Planes are going to be increased in use and are no where near developed enough to run solely on electricity. This is just one example which I am going to highlight in this report and try to help you to make better choices for your next trip.
We all want to stay somewhere nice, worth the money and in a prime location for a fair price. A business called Air BnB started up initially to help people earn extra money renting out a spare room to tourists. These prices are lower than hotels and real bnbs which would help lower budget travellers. Yet under the radar Airbnb has become one of the biggest contributors to the insane increase in rent prices, hotels going bank rupt and lack of housing. Land lords are able to make 3 times as much money a month renting out full flats to tourists than actual hard-working people. Air BnB runs unchecked, unlegislated and has led to whole buildings being evicted to give people prime holiday opportunity. Not only that the prices have increased ten-fold and made air bnb more elitist rather just earning some extra money. However, there is no one to inspect the buildings for health and safety, how do you know where you are staying has a fire escape or asbestos? How do you know someone wasn’t kicked out of their home as they couldn’t afford the rent to match this place? If it has bed bugs have they done anything about it? This problem is occurring all over the world putting pressure on local councils in a lot of areas. If you go on air bnb just think how many flats are available in popular areas. Loch Lomond national park has a third of its housing letted out to holiday makers putting pressure on the residents. These drive up rent prices and make living costs unattainable. Not only that hotels cannot compete and are losing business. Think before you book on air BnB. Go to places which actual health and safety standards. There is no one to enforce standards on Air Bnb and don’t contribute to gentrification.
Travelling Carbon free
This is a tricky one as right now we are not able to do this but we can make choices to reduce our carbon footprint. Uber has increased car use in city’s drastically in the last five years. Uber is also reducing the business for shuttle buses and taxis driving sales down and putting the profit into American headquarters. Uber is also fairly uninspected, who knows the driver and the state of the car? Could you be putting yourself at risk? Leading to a drop in the use of public transport by tourists. However, trains and buses are less harmful. With increases in data availability like google there is no excuse for not using public transport abroad when possible. Even with the language barrier.
I recently discussed with a friend why I get the train down to London instead of flying. Its 6 hours from my front door to king’s cross which by plane with the waiting and transport time would take more time but may cost half the price. However, the train is now electric and they are building faster alternatives. When possible don’t fly. You might have to get up earlier or be a bit more uncomfortable but any little choice you make will make a difference.
Sometimes we like to splurge on holiday and visit fancy restaurants. What do you know about the food sourced? What is the carbon footprint of your food and is the waste disposed of in an environmentally friendly way? Eating out occasionally is always worth it. Yet on holiday we can sometimes go for cheap mass-produced junk food which may have been frozen and travelled hundreds of miles. Or go really fancy on imported food which also will have travelled a long way. Why this may be good to have once in a while, what is there to stop you finding somewhere local or a vegetarian restaurant to support the industry. Local has the smallest carbon footprint as it is often straight from the garden or see to your table. And what is the harm in making your own lunch while abroad and reducing the consumption of fast food? Think local and fresh. This will reduce your carbon footprint.
A lot of experiences are free and harmless like swimming in the sea, hiking up a mountain or cycling through a woodland. These are often available in national parks where the land is protected and managed. Yet some places offer experiences which are very different. East Asia offers wildlife experiences such as touching a tiger or riding an elephant. These animals are abused, doped up and enslaved. Are they regulated and even safe? If you go up to that tiger how do you know it won’t snap finally at you? I’m not saying you should avoid these experiences just the trades. Go to a sanctuary where you can contribute to conservation and see these animals out in the wild where they should be. Research where you are going and what you can do. These places can often drive money into the black market or drugs which brings the life quality of the local people down and increases crime, also making you at risk if you visit there.
Chemicals harming the environment.
Our choices on how we look after ourselves can be harmful to the environment. Sunscreen has been banned in Hawaii as it has been found to poison the coral reefs. But how can I protect myself from the sun? Well that is simple, use environmentally friendly sunscreens. Don’t go outside during the strongest hours and build up a tan gradually than bathing and burning. If you need to go outside, cover up. There are loads of swimwear that can protect you head to toe on the beach and are actually in style now.
Insect spray such as deet has the ability to melt plastic, cause neuron damage. Imagine what it can do to the environment. If like me you are allergic to bugs there are alternatives like smidge, using a mosquito net, covering up and wearing light colours to help protect you. Taking b12 and garlic pills can make a real difference. Otherwise travel outside of insect season.
Travelling off season.
Often areas are abandoned as soon as the tourists leave. This drives down prices and brings in less income for locals. Yet you can still see everything at nicer temperature and much cheaper. The more business will help improve locals’ incomes and quality of lives.
Climate change is a threat. Travelling is going to increase in price and we may lose our natural wonders. Every choice we make can have a difference for both the planet and the locals? Do you know the effect of your travel choices? Make sure you make the right one!