Charlotte Little | Staff Photographer
Keep in mind the environmental impacts of your travels before you go somewhere for spring break.
As students gear up for the upcoming spring break, many Syracuse University students are eager to trade Syracuse’s cold for a warm, relaxing and tropical destination. No matter what destination students choose for their mid-semester getaways, students should consider the environmental impacts of travel to their desired locations before they embark on their trips.
Between air travel, pollution created by all-inclusive resorts and tourists’ mistreatment of beaches and other resources, tourism’s negative impact on the environment is prominent. Students should either choose sustainable destinations or adopt sustainable travel habits for their spring break endeavors to limit negative environmental impact.
Green Choices, a research team in pursuit of providing information regarding making sustainable lifestyle choices, described the significant negative environmental impact of air travel. “Aviation accounts for up to 75% of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions, while coach and rail travel amount to 13% and accommodation approximately 20%. In 2017 there were 1.3 billion international tourist arrivals globally, of which the majority (57%) traveled by air, the most polluting form of transport per passenger-kilometre,” Green Choices reported.
All-inclusive resorts are also large contributors to environmental problems within tourism. Increased waste production, a destruction of valuable land and the change in habitats for animals species are some of the repercussions of all-inclusive resort construction.
According to research by Ben Wielenga and Albert Postma, the vacation destination of Saint Lucia is a prime example of the environmental issues found within mass tourism.
“On Saint Lucia, hotels have been created at the shores, close to the water. Due to the construction of these hotels and artificial beaches, unstable slopes and erosion occurred. Besides, these developments made it impossible for turtles to nestle and coral reefs, which need clear water, were destroyed as a result of erosion and instability of surfaces,” they wrote.
Instead of contributing to the negative implications surrounding tourism, students could consider ecotourism, or responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment. This sustains the well-being of the local people as well as involves interpretation and education, as defined by The International Ecotourism Society.
Participating in ecotourism, or sustainable travel in general, involves implementing various environmentally friendly customs into a vacation. Whether it be utilizing public transportation or walking to and from sightseeing locations, staying in smaller low-impact accommodations, buying locally from small businesses or using reef-safe sunscreen when swimming in the ocean, each choice that tourists make can directly affect the prosperity of the visited destination.
For example, choosing a hotel that participates in green lodging, or a resort committed to environmentally friendly practices like conserving water and energy, could be a beneficial contribution to ensuring that tourist’s carbon footprints are minimalized.
Overtourism is another issue prevalent in various sought after tourist locations across the world. The United Nations World Tourism Organization defines overtourism as the impact of tourism on a destination, or parts thereof, that excessively influences perceived quality of life of citizens and/or quality of visitor experiences in a negative way. Locations like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Machu Picchu and Bali, are all places affected by overtourism.
Diversifying travel destinations could help solve issues of overcrowding and overusing a location’s specific resources. If students chose to travel to unique destinations, it would lessen the environmental burden on each given place. Additionally, students could choose to travel domestically to lessen plane emissions or opt for international locations that specialize in ecotourism like Costa Rica.
SU students deserve a fun and relaxing break from the stresses of midterms and busy school routines. However, students should keep in mind the repercussions that unmindful travel can cause on the planet while planning their trips. Travelers have the power to change the tourism industry if they prepare to treat a desired travel destination with care while remaining mindful of a location’s unique landscape before boarding their planes.
Cara Steves is a freshman magazine, news and digital journalism major. Her column appears biweekly. She can be reached at [email protected].
Published on March 10, 2022 at 1:57 am