As people become more aware of the fragile nature of our planet and the impact that humans are having on it, many are electing to choose responsible travel, by taking holidays that benefit local communities and culture, while caring for wildlife conservation and the environment. Although, just how can you make sure that travel is truly responsible?

A holiday is possibly one of the most expensive purchases many of us make on an seasonal basis and, in exchange for the investment of our hard-earned money and annual leave, we can expect rightly to partake of a great time. However, what is becoming increasingly important to holidaymakers and tour operators alike, is that this should not be at the expense of local environments and communities, as they are the very components that make our vacations extra special, providing us with the stories to tell our friends and coworkers about and that keep us coming back for more.

The Travel Foundation has been working with the industry over the past decade, with the aim of making all  holidays more sustainable, so that the ‘green’ option becomes the only option. Yet, it’s not only holidaymakers who benefit from tourism, as local businesses, ecosystems and cultural traditions can all gain something positive.

Choosing a responsible break

The ‘typical’ view of an eco or green holiday might involve small group travel to rarely-visited locations, to obtain an immersion experience of a country. This can have relevance where local communities are highly participative stakeholders in the holiday, using funds generated for inward development and to safe  guard traditions and the environment. While this certainly stands true, and there are many businesses offering such wonderful experiences, for the mainstream package holidaymaker this might be a bridge (and a budget) too far. Therefore, at the other end of the scale, it is worth contemplating how can you ensure a ‘bucket and spade’ beach break ticks the sustainability boxes. It’s actually quite straightforward, as a lot of what’s required lies with taking simple action.

By choosing to book with businesses that have made sustainable commitments, ensuring that your footprint is light (both metaphorically and literally in the case of areas with fragile ecosystems) and thinking about how and when to relinquish your spending money, you can play your part in ensuring that holidays are better for the destination and that they can provide a more enjoyable experience as a result.

It is said that travel broadens the mind and holidaying with one open to new experiences, with a green conscience to guide it, is the best possible combination to make certain that it happens.

Eco-Tourism in Tanzania

Located on the tropical east coast of Africa, with Kenya forming its northern border, Tanzania has a wealth of natural history and attractions for visitors. Of course, with such a wide array of animal parks and reserves, it harbours especial ecological needs. Travellers to this expansive country must contemplate their attitudes towards a greener approach, to ensure that its local features remain in the best possible condition.The sometimes fragile state of Zanzibar’s tropical beaches, or the rugged beauty of the Serengeti Plains contrast starkly with some of the more popular resorts around the world. Its peoples treasure their heritage and tremendous tolerance and understanding marks them out as a nation that also cares judiciously for its future. Sharing in that responsibility, by adopting a similar commitment to sustainable tourism, is central to enjoying Tanzania’s many magnetic attractions for today as well as tomorrow.

Top Tips by wwwmakeholidaysgreener.org.uk

“Whenever I’m visiting somewhere new, I always book a local guide. Their perspective and hospitality enriches the travel experience and you know you are putting money into the local community.” Ben Fogle - Presenter, writer, adventurer.

“When I travel abroad, there is nothing I enjoy more than visiting small local, familyrun restaurants. I have made some great friends and many of my recipe ideas have come from eating in these wonderful places and from my childhood.” Raymond Blanc OBE - Michelin Chef & restaurateur.

“Read and learn about where you’re going before you leave. When you head off on your adventures, travel with open eyes and an open mind. None of us should now be travelling blind, as learning more about the places we visit makes for a more interesting
experience.” Simon Reeve - Broadcaster.

“Vote with your wallet and avoid souvenirs made from endangered or threatened species. While they may look beautiful, tropical hardwoods, corals, shells, animal skins and furs look much better in their natural environment.” Sue Hurdle - Chief Executive, the Travel Foundation.

The Travel Foundation is a UK charity that cares for the people and places we love to visit. It is helping the travel industry take effective action on sustainable tourism, in mainstream destinations across the world. Improving quality and keeping holidays special. For more information visit: www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk

Some useful websites:

www.makeholidaysgreener.org.uk

www.travelifecollection.com

www.sunvil.co.uk/About-Sunvil/Responsible-Tourism

www.thomascook.com/sustainable-tourism

www.tourismconcern.org.uk

www.responsibletravel.com

www.greentraveller.co.uk

www.tanzaniatouristboard.com