Accommodation booked. Check. Bags packed. Check. Eco-friendly travel plan. Mmm, not so much.
Sustainable tourism is usually the last thing on travellers’ minds when planning their next holiday. Who can blame them? Vacations are about taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle
But if you care about the environment, your carbon footprint should be an important part of your travel plans.
What exactly is sustainable tourism? The term was coined several years ago but many still have no idea what it means. Simply put, sustainable tourism is about making a positive impact on the environment whenever you travel to a tourist spot.
While government and big business have an important role to play in sustainable tourism, you can do your part by being an environmentally-conscious traveller.
Here’s a look at five things you can do.
Transport to your destination
Travelling to your destination, whether by car or plane, is unavoidable but there are ways you can do to help reduce your carbon footprint. If you are travelling to Durban by plane for a long weekend, pack light to help reduce carbon emissions. The more a plane weighs, the greater its carbon emissions will be.
If you are travelling to a destination within your province, consider taking public transport like a bus instead of a private vehicle. Most of Durban’s popular attractions, including Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World, Fun World Amusement, Durban Ice Arena, and Mitchell Park Zoo, are walking distance from the city’s public transport systems.
Durban’s Ricksha Bus is a great way to explore the city’s major attractions and learn about their history. A Ricksha Ride is also a fun way to get around along Durban’s Golden Mile. The two-wheeled carriage is a must-try for local and international tourists.
Just because you are staying in a five-star hotel does not mean you should act differently to how you behave at home – other than perhaps leaving your bed unmade! Don’t have unnecessarily long showers or fill the bathtub to capacity. Avoid asking for clean towels every day. Reuse your towels to help the hotel stick to its energy- and water-efficiency initiatives. Also, remember to turn off your lights and aircon whenever you leave your room. Several hotels in and around Durban are working towards becoming eco-friendlier. The Oyster Box in Umhlanga is on a mission to “become one of the most ‘environmentally-caring’ hotels in Africa” and is committed to best green practice.
Say no to plastic
After taking a long walk along Durban’s Golden Mile, you might be tempted to purchase bottled water. But plastic bottles are one of the biggest contributors to the destruction of the environment. Rather carry a reusable bottle with you, which you can fill up before you leave your hotel.
Buying locally made products during your travel will not only affect the local economy but the environment as well. Locally produced food usually travels a shorter distance to reach supermarket shelves, which means fewer carbon emissions. If you would like to take home local souvenirs for family and friends, hop on a bus and visit Durban’s Muthi Market or Victoria Street Market area for interesting locally made products.
Protect the environment
Whether you are hiking at Krantzkloof Nature Reserve or camping along the Shongweni Dam it is important to respect the environment. Don’t litter or throw plastic bottles and plastics on the floor as they will have a negative impact on nature and the animals that call it home. When hiking, stick to the recommended trails to avoid causing unnecessary damage to the area.
ALSO READ: How to enjoy a solo holiday