The concept of sustainable tourism and travel is fairly young. Many people are yet to grasp what it really means and this means not many people are implementing it. A survey conducted in Stockholm revealed that 69% of people say sustainable tourism is very important to them. However, in the same survey, 75% of the people did not know what the term meant. This number reduces when we narrow it down to the Kenyan space.
What is sustainable tourism?
According to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, sustainable tourism is travel that protects and improves the lives of locals, maximises the economic impact of the local community and elevates the visitor’s experience preserving it for future visitors. Sustainable tourism can simply be described as positive impact travel. The main goal is to ensure one creates a positive impact while traveling and at the same time, reduces the negative impact travel may have on the environment and the community.
How can you ensure you are traveling sustainably within Kenya?
Respect the culture of the people
The first step to ensure we are traveling in a sustainable way, is to respect the culture of the people in the areas we are visiting. A lot of the tourist hubs in Kenya are the direct homes of the locals. Whether it is the Maasai Morans in the Mara or the children running around in the villages and beaches near the tourist landmarks. It is important to ensure that our presence does not interfere with how they live their daily lives. Think of how you would feel if a stranger walked into your town and began to change or mock the things that you identify with as home. Respecting the culture of the local community ranges from dressing in a manner that feels respectful to them, to treating them with kindness. As you learn and enjoy the local culture, identify and respect the local people on a human level. Taking part in local activities plays a big role in ensuring you enjoy positive impact travel and tourism funds go directly to the local communities.
Purchase from the locals
Purchasing from the local shops and crafts helps to grow the local economy. Tourism has become a highly capitalized industry and oftentimes the people in the areas that we visit rarely receive the benefits of the tourism taking place. Take it upon yourself to purchase local artifacts, shop from local shops and even tip the local tour guides and interpreters. Ensure your money has a direct impact on the people and on their development.
Minimise impact on the environment
The third way to ensure you are traveling in a sustainable manner within Kenya, is to get involved with experiences and stay in accommodations that love and care for the environment. The Kenyan government put a ban on plastic bags and this is a step towards ensuring the plastic menace is handled. The Karura forest in Nairobi and all National Parks have put in measures to ensure visitors do not enter the premises with disposable plastic bottles or containers. These are ways that we can ensure we keep the places we visit clean and habitable for both the locals and the people who will visit after us. Tourism for SDGs highlights the importance of ensuring that we are limiting negative impact on the environment as we travel by reducing waste, minimising carbon emissions and being keen to avoid over tourism.
Other ways you can explore sustainable travel is by:
- Traveling to hotels that are concious about their impact
- Embracing ethical animal tourism by keeping distance and not causing stress to the animals. Choosing reputable and respectful companies for safaris and drives.
- Embrace contactless guest experiences by using apps to avoid paper
- Respecting the Flora and Fauna
- Interact and engage with the Locals
- Aim for purpose-led travel… perhaps with Travel4Purpose 😉
Finding the right travel for you is a way to ensure you are part of the great movement that is sustainable travel. Tourism has often been seen as a purposeless action mostly for enjoyment but it can have purpose if you want it to. Creating positive impact as you travel ensures you serve a great purpose as you enjoy your vacation. A good place to begin is finding organizations and travel companies who can assist in transitioning to sustainable, purposeful and positive impact travel. Travel 4 Purpose is a company that creates custom trip plans that ensure you enjoy your holiday in Kenya and you do so in a way that is sustainable and has a positive impact. This is a great way for both international and local tourists who are looking to change the way they travel and be part of the movement to make the world habitable and enjoyable for all.
The core of T4P is to create a positive impact while travelling. This blog is all about sharing valuable, fun gems on impact travel, living with purpose and insights into Kenya, our home!
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