IT’S HARD not to feel guilty about holidays these days. For starters, there’s the environmental impact of your flight. Then there’s the worry over whether your excursions are harming local people or whether you should play golf on that perfectly-watered green when locals are desperately short of water.
Back at the hotel, you try to work out how many towels you have to reuse to make up for the air-conditioning you’ve had on all night. Not quite the relaxing holiday you planned!
But you can reassure your-self that tourism can be good for countries, too check this hotel comparison site. According to the World Travel and Tour-ism Council, it is the main money-earner for a third of developing nations and the top source of foreign exchange earnings for most of the 49 least-developed countries.
The other good news is that there are simple ways to minimise the negative effects of your dream holiday and even have a positive impact on the country you visit.
Before you go
• Holiday in the UK The easiest way to go green is to stay in the UK. Global warming may not have warmed up our beaches to Mediterranean temperatures, but we still have beautiful coastlines to explore and plenty of culture
• Recycle brochures It’s easy to get carried away at the travel agent and lug home five or six brochures to browse. But once you’ve finished with
them, pass them on to friends or put them in a recycling bin. Better still, browse and book online to avoid paper waste
• Travel by train Trains are 19 times more carbon-efficient than aircraft, so if you’re off to the Continent, consider going by rail
• Offset your emissions If flying is the only way to get to your destination, consider paying an organisation such as Climate Care to offset the emissions from your flight (www.climatecare.org)
• Book locally owned accommodation Think about where your money goes. Staying in locally owned accommodation will benefit local families. Ask your tour operator if this is possible in your chosen resort.
Out and about
• Use public transport Hire a car only if you really need to. Public transport, cycling and walking are far more environmentally friendly
• Be careful with cigarettes Many forest fires are caused by people failing to stub out cigarettes properly. If you do smoke, be extra vigilant in dry climates and don’t leave butts behind (it can take five years for them to disintegrate), see also here.
• Leave it as you find it It’s tempting to take home shells, pebbles and wild plants, but you are destroying the environment for future generations of visitors
• Don’t support animal acts Animals used in performances, such as bear dancing, are rarely treated well, so don’t support them. Likewise, say `no’ to having your picture taken with wild animals such as lion cubs or chimpanzees
• Book locally If you’re planning excursions, find out if you can go with local guides — so you support the local economy — rather than your hotel or tour operator
• Buy local crafts Support the local economy by buying handicrafts as a memento of your visit. Just make sure you avoid anything made from endangered plants or species, such as corals, shells, ivory, fur, horn or reptile skins
• Look after the seabed Be careful when snorkelling or diving. Coral takes decades to grow, but one careless kick from you could break it off