It's safe to say that just about every industry these days is taking at least some measures to ‘go green’. After all, it's part of both corporate social responsibility and good marketing in the 21st century. However, going green does not mean the same in every industry. Green tourism is but one example.
In the early days of green travel, during the previous decade, being an environmentally responsible tourist meant leaving behind the comforts of daily life, strapping on a backpack, and spending your holiday in a rain forest with no running water or electricity. There may, or may not, have been any real accommodations to speak of. Things are different today.
Green tourism today is about both customers and industry operators doing what they can to reduce energy consumption and pollution, increase efficiency, and do better at remaining carbon neutral. Some travellers choose to go green by spending the holiday in the rain forest, but that's not necessary. You can still participate without leaving the comforts of home behind.
As consumers, we know one of the best ways we can contribute to the green movement is to reduce our energy consumption. Reduced consumption reduces the need for production and, as a result, positively affects the environment. The same is true for the tourism industry. As an example, hotels that use less energy save money and help reduce emissions.
To that end, hotel chains are now upgrading current facilities with things like:
- more energy-efficient windows
- new heating and cooling systems
- energy-efficient lighting.
What's more, both new construction and renovation efforts are taking advantage of exciting new energy technologies for sustainable tourism. A hotel built very near a mountain river, for example, might harness the flow of the water for energy production. Another might take advantage of the bright sunshine of the Caribbean to generate supplemental electricity.
Even the airline industry is participating by incorporating new technologies to reduce fuel costs. Moreover, some of the technologies are surprisingly simple. For example, just by adding winglets to the ends of airplane wings, airlines are significantly reducing the amount of fuel they use. Combine them with new, fuel-efficient engines and there are measurable savings.
Green Doesn't Mean Uncomfortable
The most important thing for any modern tourist to know is that going green does not mean being uncomfortable. If you are used to the five-star luxury experience, then by all means continue to enjoy it. Just look for hotels that include energy efficiency and environmental friendliness as part of their mission.
While you are on holiday, you can also contribute by doing things like using public transport rather than renting your own car. If the things you want to do are close enough, you might even consider walking or riding a bicycle. Many hotels even give you the option of not having your linens and towels changed every day in order to save water and energy. That's something you can easily be part of.
Green travel and sustainable tourism are more of a mindset than anything else. And as more hospitality industry companies and their customers adopt that mindset, it is having a real impact. And a positive one at that.