Happy World Tourism Day! The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day is Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development. With one billion international tourists expected to travel in 2012, it is crucial that travellers and the tourism industry commit to a more sustainable tourism sector.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme CO2 emissions generated directly from the tourism sector account today for 5% of global CO2 emissions. If we compare tourism with the emissions of countries, tourism would be the 5th bigger polluter worldwide! Makes you think twice about your next trip, doesn’t it?
Behavioural change by tourists as well as structural changes to the tourism industry are vital to mitigate the impacts of tourism. Mitigation in the tourism sector can be achieved by reducing energy use, improving energy efficiency, increasing the use of renewable energy, carbon offsetting strategies, as well as changes in business practices.
Clean energy solutions in tourism can not only reduce emissions and protect local environments and communities, they can also cut costs for businesses while creating jobs and economic opportunities and deliver energy services to poor communities.
If you are a in the hotel business, check out the UNWTO’s Hotel Energy Solutions project’s E-Toolkit, a free tool to assess a hotel’s current energy use, and recommend appropriate renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. It also suggests what savings on operating expenses hotels can expect from green investments through a ROI Calculator.
As a responsible traveller, I am fairly conscious of my energy use. Small behavioural changes such as switching off hotel lights, re-using towels, using public transport, buying local and rejecting imported foods can go a long way in reducing your energy footprint. Even better, make the most of long haul flights by taking longer trips and stay at green hotels that have chosen to commit to sustainable practices.
As a traveller, how do you reduce your energy impacts when you travel? Share your suggestions in the comments below.