Travelling has become a worldwide tendency since airplane tickets became cheaper and the internet facilitated acquiring hotels, tours, and everything you need before going. People are no longer afraid to travel, so tourism has grown incredible all around the world which brought with it both good and bad things, especially in places like Costa Rica which is trying to promote sustainable traveling as part of the country’s strategy.
Even though via tourism, rural and remote communities started to gain income and job opportunities, as well as better infrastructure, it also brought more solid and liquid waste, a higher water and energy demand, and in some cases, insecurity. This being said, when we travel, we should always keep in mind our impacts and how to prevent or mitigate the negative ones, and how to enhance the positive ones. This doesn’t mean you should go to ecolodges, it means, try your best to find the best choice according to your budget and place.
To give an example, let’s take it you want to visit Guanacaste in Costa Rica and you have to plan your stay. First, you should start by deciding what you want to see… marine or terrestrial animals? Landscapes? Beaches? Do you want to go surfing? Hiking? etc. Once you have that, let’s start searching! I usually use blog posts or the TripAdvisor forum, but you can do it however you want, just start searching for places where you can do or see what you hope to do.
You have your options ready? Let’s start looking for hotels, bed&breakfasts, AirBnBs, Ecolodges, and any other accommodation options for those places and define a budget to start narrowing down those options you are not willing to pay.
Now, let’s decide for the best option:
1.1) Visit the website for the place and try to find if they are a local company or person, a big franchise, a foreigner with a small hotel, etc. Always prefer local places since that way, you highly support local people which is one of the main positive highlights of tourism. If you prefer big companies because they guarantee a certain level, follow step 1.2.
1.2) If it is a big company, try to find its sustainability report. If they don’t have it, I would try to find out what actions they are doing to try to mitigate their impact on the area, if you can’t find anything, discard the place immediately.
2) Ready with accommodations? Let’s decide what we will do in the place! Always look for local tours. Big touristic agencies such as SwissTravel for example, tend to hire only big touristic companies and not entrepreneurs and small locals companies because they ask for requirements that small companies can’t achieve. Sometimes, it’s okay to go with the big touristic company, but most of the time, in my experience, the small ones are better! And not only that, but you are probably helping someone who really needs the money. One example is Bahia Salinas Research Center since they are a small SME, founded to conserve, educate and promote sustainable coastal development in the area of El Jobo in Costa Rica. As you can imagine, a perfect choice to support environmental conservation, and social and economic community development while enjoying the wonders of nature.
3) Behave well. Try to manage your waste the right way, don’t waste food, give something back to nature or the community, bring positive vibes and enjoy it all! And very important, always remember to give feedback on online platforms to help the smaller lodging and touristic companies grow!
If you ever need help planning a trip, don’t doubt contacting the company you are digging into or even me at firstname.lastname@example.org for help :)
Have a pleasant trip, travel sustainable, and let’s help and protect what we love!
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