The subject of global warming and melting arctic sea-ice is never far from the pages of national newspapers. The term ‘carbon footprint’ is one that everyone has heard and many people, having understood the impact of high carbon emissions, have at least tried to reduce theirs.
Traveling by coach or bus is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, as there’s one relatively small engine for the up to 77 passengers on some buses, so it compares very favourably to that of planes and boats.
In this post though, we’re going to look at ecotourism, from a slightly different angle.
With the help of Dr Tony Johnston, we’ve put together some facts and some advice points on how you can become an ecotourist and feel a sense of pride when traveling. We’ll focus on the UK, as with the rising cost of flights, the British are starting to re-discover what we have right underneath our noses and taking coach holidays in Britain – in our beautiful national parks, coastline and wilderness.
The following is taken from an interview with Dr Tony Johnston, who is a lecturer in Ecotourism at the University of Derby. Tony regularly speaks on the subject of ecotourism and is based at the Oaklands Manor Outdoor Leadership Centre. We have listed some of the key points and quotes to give you more of an understanding of the concept.
“Responsible travel is simply being mindful of the various impacts your tourism can have on your surroundings” says Dr. Johnston.
“Ecotourism incorporates the standards of responsible travel but tends to be focused on visiting areas of ‘outstanding beauty’ or that are a ‘delicate environment.’”
(image source: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/info/20020/leeds_and_yorkshire/144/experience_yorkshire)
True Ecotourism fulfils these four areas:
- Location – delicate environments that tend to be of outstanding natural beauty
- Educational value – Ecotourism can offer a way to learn about a place, its inhabitants, history and ecology.
- Contribution – Short supply line to the local community. Money doesn’t end up with hotel firms and vendors; it makes its way into the local economy.
- Impact – The impact on the environment is little to none, or in fact positive.
Tourism is changing
As Dr. Johnston explains, “Responsible tourism should always have people considering how their actions could affect the political, environmental, social and cultural values of the areas they visit.”
“Tourism is changing; many people no longer want to sit on a beach or by the pool and get a suntan. They want to get out there and learn and explore new things. This is where eco-tourism can offer travellers something different.”
That’s certainly something we aim to offer with our range of coach holidays, where you can pick from a selection of British and European destinations, and travel there in an eco-friendly way!
Dr. Johnston told us, “Eco-tourism has grown at roughly twice the rate of normal tourism over the past decade”
“It’s certainly worth noting that domestic tourism here in the UK is worth more than what is brought in via international tourism. It’s often overlooked but national tourism is and always has been incredibly resilient.”
“There is a current travel trend of people taking shorter, but more frequent breaks. 4/5 short flights in a year is going to be far more harmful to the environment, have a greater carbon impact and therefore less sustainable”
We’ve always thought coach travel was the way forward, so it’s great to hear it come from an expert!
(image source: http://www.theepochtimes.com)
Simple advice for travellers wishing to reduce their carbon footprint:
- Observe the local codes of conduct
- Always consider how to act more politically, environmentally, socially and culturally aware
- Consider travelling around the UK rather than abroad to reduce CO2 emissions
- Take the coach or train over shorter distances rather than fly
- Research places in the area to see if they have a level of expertise in responsible tourism and are set to reducing their emissions.
- Think of your contribution to the place you visit:
- Is it financial: to help something improve, or go straight to the local economy?
- Education – can you learn something new or possibly teach something whilst you’re there?