Are you one of the 55.1 million people who wants to travel to places that demonstrate sustainability? This checklist of questions from Sustainable Travel International will help you evaluate your alternatives when choosing environmentally and culturally responsible destinations.
• What's the environmental policy? The travel provider should actively support environmental issues and consider its own ecological impact. Hosts and guides should encourage guests to abide by area regulations such as not disturbing wildlife and keeping vehicles on designated roads and trails.
• Is it conservation oriented? Your trip should strengthen the conservation effort for the places you visit and enhance the region’s natural integrity.
• Will locals benefit financially? The travel provider or accommodation should be locally owned or operated, and local people should receive sufficient economic benefits for their work as guides, cooks, crew, and suppliers. There should be opportunities to see local communities and meet local people.
• Is transportation sustainable? Travel should emphasize cycling, walking, or group taxis and vans.
• How well does the destination use natural resources? Attention should be paid to using water, energy, and building materials sparingly. Find out if energy-efficient technologies—rainwater showers, composting toilets, solar electricity—are utilized.
• Are there attempts to eliminate waste? Staff members should reduce, reuse, and recycle at every opportunity.
• Will local traditions and holy places be treated respectfully? Guides should understand the local culture and encourage guests to adhere to local norms through appropriate behavior and dress.
• Where will your food come from? Ideally, most food should be locally produced or organically grown. Find out whether locals are educated about sustainable farming.
Sustainable Travel International promotes sustainable tourism by providing eco-certification for U.S. travel destinations. Check SustainableTravelInternational.org for listings.