The words “Eco” “Eco Friendly Holidays” and “Eco Tourism” are rapidly becoming the current buzzwords in the holiday travel industry. While welcoming the current focus on the environment it must be said that although many reputable travel organizations are truly dedicated to conservation and protection of the environment there are others simply exploiting marketing possibilities.
There is no argument against the facts that we humans cause emission of harmful gases from our homes, when driving our cars and when flying away on holiday. According to Chaucer, there are lies, dammed lies and statistics and the current statistics, being banded about suggest that airlines are the main offenders. In fact, our homes are the worst offenders with around 25% of emissions, with airlines contributing 5%.
Household emissions of CO2 are calculated at 11 tonnes per person per annum whereas a return holiday flight to Belize produces 2.38 tonnes per passenger. Having said that, it must be conceded that air travel is the fastest growing source of harmful emission.
Governments seem unwilling or unable to address these problems in a practical way. As a holiday traveler there are some ways you can contribute to the reduction of CO2.
Perhaps it is possible for you and your family to have fewer but longer holidays if they require air travel. You could also eliminate those short breaks.
Direct flights to your destination will reduce the take-offs and landings which contribute the worst emissions. Night and winter flights should be avoided if possible. Choose a “young” airline. New aircraft pollute less. Perhaps visit local holiday destinations with travel by car (car sharing), public transport or even walking or cycling.
Extremists would suggest banning all holiday flights. This would have a totally negative effect on the economies of many of the countries visited by tourists. The money earned from responsible tourists will fund education programmes, support conservation projects and enable investment in carbon reduction technologies.
In your own way, as an Eco Tourist you can also help the environment at your holiday destination. Economise on the air conditioning, limit use of the laundry facilities, don’t waste water, if it is safe drink tap water, buy locally produced food etc, from local establishments and avoid the purchase of imported goods.
Your choice of holiday destination and method of travel can make a positive contribution to this global problem. If we were all to make even small changes in our lifestyle and travel it would amount to a very large change in the damage we are causing globally.
Sunny Jones is the owner and writer of the popular online travel guide and community, Travel Advice Pages, which dispenses invaluable travel advice for worldwide travelers.