Over Tourism Part 2: What Can We Do About It?

If you have not read our previous post about the effects of over tourism, I highly recommend you  give it a read. We took a deep look at some of the negative effects of Over Tourism on local communities and talked about why they occur. Today we will dive into some ways that travelers  and travel professionals can help bring about solutions to those challenges and how we can all come together to make tourism, and the world, a better place.

Education

One of the best ways we can help create a change in over tourism is for travel companies to choose to be socially responsible and to help educate travelers, other companies, and local people and partners on the effects of over tourism. This one is on us. We need to be talking, working together from the grassroots level to the top making sure when we choose to bring tourism to a place it is done in a responsible way.  That means slowing down. It means some places or destinations need to be limited in their exposure to preserve land and culture and to ensure the well being of local people (I’m looking at you cruise industry). This might mean making things a bit harder. It means putting the right thing before profits at times. That is the responsibility we should be taking to stop adding to the problems over tourism has already created. It also means that we as travel companies have to accept that we don’t know everything and we need to be listening to the local people on how this is affecting their land and their homes and work together on solutions.

Spreading Out Tourism

This one is tricky and will only work if it’ done right. In our last post Juan Marambio of Travolution Chile laid out how simply spreading tourism in a country is not going to help if it is not done with forethought, local collaboration, and regulation involved. But, the benefits of spreading out tourism are many if done in a good way. First and foremost spreading out the physical impact of feet on the ground helps alleviate the impact on the environment. Spreading out the tourism economy will also bring the economic benefits of  tourism to more communities and allow the people to benefit more widely from it. This practice has to be done in a way where everyone is on board and engaged to make sure we are not making the same mistakes we did before. Tourism companies, travelers, local leadership, and local communities all working together. This takes time, patience, and working on the ground with the people who know it best for their community. It is not a quick fix but can be an effective one if done correctly.

Eliminating Single Use Plastics

An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year and every square kilometre of ocean holds an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter according to the Plastics Oceans Foundation and the United Nations.” That is a lot of plastic, and as travelers we are adding to that at an unsustainable and unprecedented rate. We need to STOP the use of single use plastic in general and especially when we travel. We at Travel Life Adventures require all of our travelers to bring their own water bottles and a method of cleaning their water so they can refrain from buying plastic bottles. Using a bamboo toothbrushes, eliminating one time use razors, using refillable toiletry bottles instead of the one time use, and bringing your own tupperware and coffee cup are a few of the many ways we can reduce our use of plastic at home and while we travel.  

Research

It is important as a traveler to do your research on what company you choose use when you travel. As travelers we always want the cheapest option, but with that choice and single-minded evaluation of services we are putting the environment and local people in harm’s way. For any given trip, experience, or service there is a cost attached that encompasses the cost of that thing to be done in a responsible way. When we demand lower and lower prices, service provides are incentivized to cut corners to lower prices. When a trip is very cheap that usually means some type of short cut is happening. Wages for workers are lowered. Insurance for employees is cut. Equipment is second rate. Less experienced guides are employed. This creates negative and often dangerous work conditions for local people and can take a toll on the environment too. Before you set out on a trip, do your research and know what questions to ask. Is this company engaging truly in responsible travel? How do they set prices and what are the working conditions and pay for the workers? Is the price I am getting much much lower than other quotes? Why is that? We at Travel Life Adventures work long and hard to make sure everyone we partner with in country works towards these goals and leads the way in making tourism work for everyone involved.. This sometimes means the price of a trip is a bit higher than others and this costs us clients sometimes. It means some places we choose not to promote and some people we choose not work with. It might mean our trips are not for everyone. These are choices we have made to put the right thing above the easy thing, the more lucrative thing. But as a traveler and business we need to choose to sacrifice for the betterment of everyone and the world around us.

Opening The Mind To More Possibilities

This one is for us as travel lovers. There is almost infinite places, people, landscapes, and cultures to connect with and explore in the world, all we have to do is open up our minds and ask the questions. The land and the Earth have much to share, but it is up to us as travelers to remain open to hearing the call. This applies as we begin our planning and research, but also comes into play when we are on the ground. Being open to where the experience can take you is a great way to help in over tourism in many parts of the world. Maybe when you are in Nepal you hear of this amazing mountain pass in the opposite direction of your planned destination of Everest Base Camp? Maybe a local person at a coffee shop suggests it, its out of the way, but it is said to be amazing. If we are open to those experiences when we can be there is a huge world out there for us to explore. Take the time to contact people, search the internet, and put out into the universe your desire for a unique experience. I promise that doing this will always lead you to a deeper connection with your travel experience.

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