2017 year of Sustainable Tourism

Posted on: Thursday, September 21, 2017
Blog Category: General

As the world revolves, tourism statistics boom and sophistication spreads through to the most rural of places in the world. But at what cost? Responsible tourism remains the only way conservation and tourism can equilibrate.

Responsible or sustainable tourism has been described as the main preservative where culture, species or habitat are involved. The comparative advantage that Swaziland has over other countries is its sustained culture, unparalleled wildlife and natural habitat preservation, as well as organised human settlement.

Sustainable tourism speaks to a country maintaining or improving its tourism figures in the foreseeable future and that calls for continued conservation of our culture, species and the environment. There are many activists all around the world who have shown ceaseless support in ensuring the survival of wildlife particularly the endangered species. We have many such people in Swaziland as well, such as Ted ‘Machobane’ Reilly who introduced the culture of protecting wild animals, and not confining them to domestic conditions all in the same breathe.

Some international travel experts have said in unison that sustainable tourism is directly linked to ecotourism and some have even taken these two as the same thing. The long and short of it is that ecotourism focuses on ecological conservation and educating tourists about local environmental surroundings, while sustainable tourism focuses on travel that has a minimal effect on the environment and local communities. Practicing either or both is beneficial.

One blogger of said it is imperative for everyone to assume responsibility in saving planet Earth by simply reducing their footprint. Reducing one’s footprint does not mean walking less, but it means limiting habits that could possibly harm the earth. Even though cutting down on the use of plastic, refilling water, changing linen less frequently, picking up litter and educating other when travelling is eco-inclined, it goes a long way in sustaining tourism.

Being responsible really does not make one a goody-two-shoes, but a responsible person who wants to maintain the beauty of not just one country but the whole planet earth. There are numerous benefits to being responsible, such as a beauty natural environment, and steady tourism receipts. SNTC, Big Game Parks, among others, have done a lot to sustain our local tourism products through  educating people, establishing conservatories, among other things. These ‘Save the planet’ efforts do not go unnoticed as there are international bodies waiting to reward any outstanding performance in conservation.

2017 has been named as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism by the UN World Tourism Organisation. Why? The goal of the year was to recognise and celebrate the huge impact that tourism has on our world; on our environment, on our societies, and on the global economy. The Swaziland Tourism Authority (STA) is in full support of sustainable tourism and it aims to take Swaziland to the next step in world standards.

There is a loud call out to blogger, travel writers and vloggers to get writing about the difference we could all make in the maintenance of the world’s beauty. Writers and bloggers have gained momentum since the introduction and adoption of social networks such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Travellers have gone to trust travel writers and bloggers more than they do other sources of information. Some reputable travel writers had a lot to say pertaining to making 2017 the most impact-filled year so far.

Amanda who blogs at Wanderlust says the future of tourism depends on the environmental and ethical demands of us as consumers. That is what will push the responsible tourism agenda forward. The extent to which we are willing to purchase on the basis of genuine environmental and ethical policies, action and certifications (even if it costs more) will define the future of tourism. Then maybe one day all tourism will be responsible tourism.

Travelling responsibly means travelling with awareness. I recommend finding ways to increase your awareness of self, the other and your impact. You can join a spiritual community, system or lineage, or you can find your own way. Many people find spending a significant amount of time in nature makes them more aware and perceptive.

As a parting shot; let us all play our part in keeping our environment intact and our wild animals alive in order to ensure that our tourism is sustainable.

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