Lonely Planet Writer

Travel, Enjoy, Respect: here's how to journey the world sustainably

One of the best ways to learn about the world is to travel – but globetrotters have to understand their impact when visiting the places that they love.

Women in traditional japanese kimonos walking at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan. Image by ©Patryk Kosmider/Shutterstock

With that in mind, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has launched a new campaign focused on the contribution that sustainable tourism can make towards development. The campaign – ‘Travel.Enjoy.Respect’ – comes in the International Year on Sustainable Tourism for Development and promotes tourists using travel as a catalyst for positive change.

Moraine Lake is a glacially-fed lake in Banff National Park 14km outside of Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. Image by ©Bjoern Alberts/Shutterstock

The impact of tourism has come to the forefront in destinations around the world recently. European cities like Venice and Barcelona have struggled with high visitor numbers and have implemented new measures to mitigate the impacts on their cities. The South Pacific island nation of Palau recently proposed a law that would only allow for five-star hotels to open – with the president saying the plan stems from the need to reduce tourist numbers and aim for “quality” over quantity. With the gorgeous coral reefs as a main attraction, it is important that the country protects its natural environment to ensure a sustainable tourism market for years to come. Iceland – which has skyrocketed in popularity thanks to its widespread exposure in Game of Thrones and an increase of budget flights – has also announced plans to mitigate the impact of tourists on its incredible natural environment.

Zebra at sunset in the Serengeti National Park. Africa. Tanzania. Image by ©Delbars/Shutterstock

The campaign was summarized in a statement by UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai: “whenever you travel, wherever you travel, remember to: respect nature, respect culture, and respect your host. You can be the change you want to see in the world. You can be an ambassador for a better future”.

The floating villages around Cat Ba islands. Cat Ba is the largest of the 366 islands, which make up the southeastern edge of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. Image by ©Jimmy Tran/Shutterstock

The campaign comes with a manual of tips for responsible travellers, which provides tourists with a set of recommendations to help them make responsible choices when travelling and have a positive impact on the destinations they visit. The tips are likely familiar to most travellers – learn to speak a few words in the local language, reduce water and energy consumption, buy locally-made handcrafts and products, and research well before engaging in voluntourism – but will serve as a reminder for everyone looking to travel the world and leave it a better place. Learn more about the campaign and read the full sustainable tourism tips here.