Leave no trace behind!
More and more organisations, whether these are national and regional agencies involved in promoting tourism and tourist sites, ecotour operators, community organisations or travel book publishers, are putting the principles of responsible travel into practice.
The eco-traveler likes to visit a region and learn about its history, heritage, nature, but who also respects local traditions and local peoples, has a taste for local cuisine, buys locally produced goods at local fairs and small shops, and whenever possible uses environmentally friendly forms of transport.
Getting started on an ecotourist adventure
Deciding where to go and what places to visit really depends on individual passions and interests. Ecotourism offers something for just about everybody, with thousands of experiences both near and far to choose from. You can get started as an ecotourist by travelling to placest closest to you, going, for example, for an outing to a rural area that is a protected area. Part and parcel of a first ecotourist experience could mean staying overnight at a agrotourist farm or family-run bed&breakfast, and doing all sorts of outdoor activities, whether it’s biking, hiking, kayaking or horseback riding. Another piece of the puzzle involves savoring regional dishes, exploring local climates and searching for the spirit of a place by participating in cultural events, arts & crafts or culinary workshops…
The number of ideas and opportunities for doing some ecotravelling is practically limitless and it can be done in most places around the world including in your own country.
Poland has enormous potential to develop ecotourism, all thanks to its national parks and protected areas, unique on a European scale and teaming with rare and endangered fauna and flora, wild, unregulated rivers, diverse and picturesque rural landscapes, rich regional and local traditions in arts and crafts, cuisine, healthy food which has won over many a tourist from abroad. If we can use this potential in a sensible and sustainable way, ecotourism can become our brand in Europe and the world! ,
Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria - GSTC
Detailed environmental criteria for the tourism industry, especially hotels and tour operators, have been developed by the GSTC Global Council for Sustainable Tourism - GSTC Industry Criteria. They introduce minimum requirements to which every responsible tourism company should adapt. They have been divided into four main topics: effective planning for sustainable development, maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community, strengthening cultural heritage and reducing negative impact on the environment. GSTC is an organization accrediting certification companies in the world.
Examples of environmental standards in the tourism industry – Worldwide:
- Green Globe – a global certification for the tourism sector to encouraging sustainable practice (including environmental sustainability) in the community;
- Green Key – the most popular hospitality industry eco-certification in Europe (operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education - FEE). The Blue Flag eco-label which is dedicated to sustainable beaches, marinas and sustainable boating is a certification program that is part of the same certification series offered by FEE.
- Rainforest Alliance - certification for proprietors of tourism businesses, including lodging services and inbound tour operators, who demonstrate they are minimizing their environmental footprint and supporting workers, local cultures, and surrounding communities (also in agriculture and forestry)
Examples of national certification programs:
- UK: Green Tourism GTBS (International Centre for Responsible Tourism)
- Ireland: Sustainable Travel Ireland
- Italy: Legambiente Turismo
- Australia: Eco-Certified (Eco-Tourism Australia)
- Costa Rica: CST Certification para Sostenibilidad Turistica - Certyfikat turystyki zrównoważonej (Instytut Turystyki Kostaryki)
- South Africa: Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa
Examples of bike-friendly certification programs in Central Europe:
- Germany: Bett+Bike
- Czechia: Cyklisté vítáni (Nadace Partnerstvi)
- Slovakia: Vitajte cyklisti (Nadacia Ekopolis)
by: Dominika Zareba
English translation: Piotr Szmigielski