Sustainable Tourism

queens necklace

Mumbai’s Marine Drive has a curvy, 3.6 km long boulevard and is perhaps, one of the most famous landmarks in the city.

Popularly known as the Queen’s Necklace,  when the coastline gets lit up in the evenings, is an essential on every tourist’s itinerary or for that matter even the locals as they love taking a casual stroll around the periphery of the Marine Drive or simply sitting by the Arabian sea watching the sunset.

However, the same Marine Drive is now in the news, albeit for the wrong reasons. Recently the Arabian Sea washed up more than two lakh kilograms of garbage on the shoreline after the recent high tide.

mumbai

Needless to say, it was the same litter that people tossed in the sea and other water bodies.

However, Mumbai is not the only city that has been grappling with the issue of sea pollution. In 2018, the Great Pacific Garbage, a long stretch of area in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California, created waves on the internet for the shocking amount of garbage it contains that is choking all the marine life.

pacific

All this reiterates that it is high time both tourists as well as local citizens and government bodies , take the responsibility  to maintain the sanctity of the destinations specially those that are abundant in natural resources and find ways and means to reduce the impact of ecological degradation.

The NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India, providing both directional and policy inputs. The Aayog supports a cooperative federal structure where the Center and the States prepare development policies together.

Under its vision documents for 2017-2024, one of the focuses is on the impacts of mass tourism in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) in particular.

NMSHE

IHR is significant for India. Stretching for about 2,400 kilometres, the IHR extends from the Indus River in the west to the Brahmaputra River in the east. It covers 10 mountain states and four hill districts of India that make up the country’s north and north-eastern borders.

Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh , Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya , Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal are the part of the IHR.

IHR also shares borders with six neighbouring countries (China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Bangladesh)

Springs

With its towering snow-laden peaks, majestic landscapes, rich biodiversity and cultural heritage, the Indian Himalayan Region has regularly drawn visitors and pilgrims from the Indian sub-continent and across the world. Every year an average of about 100 million tourists visit the ecologically sensitive area which is home to about 50 million people.  This number will soon be touching the 240 million mark in seven years, putting a huge pressure on the state’s natural resources.

himalayas

Some of the proposals of NITI aayog in promotion of Sustainable Tourism in IHR are:-

  • Disaster management and Pollution control (including Climate Change)
  • Visitor Control Mechanism to track the number of visitors every year.
  • Tourist Traffic Management Mechanism to forecast and manage vehicular traffic in the destination.
  • Recommended introduction of a “green cess” from consumers to increase tax revenue and assist in maintaining critical services
  • A zero waste policy to reduce, reuse, and recycle solid waste.
  • Mapping and revival of springs across the Himalayas
  • Ensuring that infrastructure such as hotels, restaurants, and road and rail networks in forest areas are ecologically friendly.
  • Controlling decibel levels (No loud talking or music in protected areas).
  • Resource and Ecology management mechanism, to conserve biology as well as, restore ecology for better management of natural resources and biodiversity.

himalayan-glacier

Tourism is a very complex industry involving numerous stakeholders and requiring significant amount of resources. As more regions and countries develop their tourism industry, it produces significant impacts on natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems.

The need for sustainable planning and management is imperative for the industry to survive as a whole.

 

 

 

 

 

Source Credits : NITI Aayog
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Chasing the sun!

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Using ‘Solar Power’ is increasing in popularity because it is versatile with many benefits to people and the environment. Every day, the sun gives off more than enough energy to meet the whole world’s energy needs. And since it is a clean source of energy there are no greenhouse gas emissions that are released into the atmosphere. Hence the environmental impact of solar power is significantly smaller than other power generation methods.

Addressing the issue of sustainable travel, Solar energy systems are increasingly being installed on the roofs of airport terminals and parking garages, as well as on the land surrounding tarmacs to harness the power of solar energy.

cochin airport
Cochin International Airport

In 2015, Cochin International Airport in Kerala set an example for the rest of the world by contributing towards the environment, and being the first ever fully solar powered airport. Handling more than 10.2 million passengers in 2018-19 the airport was selected in 2018 for the coveted Champion of the Earth award, the highest environmental honour instituted by the United Nations.

award

The airport has reduced the carbon footprint by over 3 lakh metric tonnes, which is equivalent to planting 3 million trees. Moreover, the airport is going one step ahead by generating electricity with eight small hydroelectric power projects and organic farms in the vicinity. Over the past few years, it has grown around 80 tonnes of organic vegetable in a year.

chattonoga
Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport

In the US, an airport in Tennessee is now generating enough renewable energy to meet all its energy needs—a model that is soon replicated by other airports. The airport of the future, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, has become the first airport in the country to generate all the power it needs through a solar farm.

dubai
Terminal 2 Dubai

The trend in airports incorporating solar panels into their energy systems is taking off. –Athens International’s photovoltaic park produces more than 13 thousand MWh of emission-free electricity annually, corresponding to approximately 25% of the airport’s own electricity needs. This results in an average annual CO2 emissions reduction of 11,500 tonnes

A solar energy system made up of 15,000 solar panels was recently installed at Terminal 2 of Dubai International Airport.

A 183-acre farm at Indianapolis International Airport, which houses 87,478 solar panels, provides 22.2 megawatts of renewable energy for the region’s electric grid.

Denver International Airport has an impressive facility of a 56-acre, 10-megawatt solar farm with 42,614 solar panels.

Solar panels installed at Brisbane Airport produce an estimated 125 MWh/year of green energy, thereby saving 118 tonnes of CO2 per year

Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia has the 19 megawatt plant which will help save the airport $750,000 in electricity costs and some 18,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

Today more than 100 airports worldwide have solar plants.

And speaking of airports, I wonder how soon it will be when we see commercial aircrafts using this renewable source of energy to fly.  Although quite a few manned and unmanned solar powered aircraft have been developed and flown in the last 30 years.

When the Wright brothers made their first maiden flight in a powered aircraft on a wind- swept beach in 1903, it was a short hop, skip and jump into the record books.

More than 70 years later the 1st  solar powered aircraft, The “Sunrise 1”, an unmanned vehicle -designed by Ray Buchard, on the 4th of November 1974 made their 1st maiden flight and flew 20 minutes at an altitude of around 100 m.

sunrise1

In July 2016 with a journey that took a very long time—505 days to fly 26,000 miles (42,000 km) at an average speed of about 45 mph (70 kph) pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg successfully landed the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft in Abu Dhabi ,after flying around the world using only the power of the Sun.

Solar Impulse 2 aircraft is pulled out of its base for tests by pilot Bertrand Piccard in PayerneSelfie picture shows Swiss pioneer Bertrand Piccard during the last leg of the round the world trip with Solar Impulse 2 over the Arab peninsula
A selfie shows Swiss pioneer Bertrand Piccard during the last leg of the round the world trip with Solar Impulse 2 over the Arabian Peninsula on July 25, 2016

Although many of the solar powered aircrafts have wingspans as wide as the 737 passenger jets, but the similarities between them ends here.

Solar-powered planes present some “engineering challenges.” They are able to capture about 10 or 20 percent of the energy from the sun. That equates to a speed of only 50 miles per hour, whereas commercial passenger jets, travel at about 600 miles per hour.

So for now solar-powered aircraft are probably better suited for things like loitering over one area, collecting data for climate research, or conducting surveillance with cameras, than for moving people around.  But with technology evolving everyday it won’t be too far into the future when we see a “small seater solar powered commercial flight” taking off on its voyage. But for now that remains a dream!

solar5

 

 

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Leave the spot better than you found it!

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You’ve most likely heard of Sustainable Tourism sometime or the other. Natural resource preservation at some of the major destinations around the globe and the people who visit them are becoming more attuned to the environmental impact of tourism.

While traveling sustainably is becoming ever more popular, many people are still unfamiliar with the concept and just how easy it can really be.

Being sustainable does not mean being uncomfortable!

The very importance of sustainable tourism lies on its three pillars

  • The Ecological pillar: e.g. conserving and lowering the impact on the environment the natural environment of the destination
  • The economic pillar: support local businesses intending to generate employment and income for the local people
  • The social pillar: respect the culture and the people

The tourism industry in all its forms helps boost the economy of a country, which is a great thing. Not only does it generate reasonable foreign exchange but it also incidental in creating job and employment opportunities. Tourism is often responsible for increasing regional development and infrastructure particularly in isolated areas.

Because we are travel nerds over here, we are going to focus on specific ways you can spread the green gospel while traveling. Hopefully, these tips will inspire you to be a more conscious traveller on your next adventure and journeys to come.

Stay longer and reduce carbon emissions:

air-aircraft-airplane-728824

How we wish we can zip across the world in a more eco-friendly way! Until that happens we have no choice but to fly. Luckily, there are a few ways to cut down on carbon emissions when flying. Consider the length of your trip in relation to the distance you’re travelling. In practice, this means the further you fly, the longer you should stay there. So if you’re considering a trip to the Caribbean then you should stay for at least a fortnight rather than flying there and back in a week. Avoid taking multiple flights within a country. Instead look at train travel or alternative modes of transportation that cause less emissions output.

Ditch the Plastic

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Plastic is a problem.  Bottles, packing materials, plastic bags.  Yeah, it’s not good. Bring A Reusable Water Bottle With You While Traveling: It may seem simple to purchase a bottle of water at the airport, at your hotel, or at the train station. But it is far more lovable to the nature if you have a reusable bottle that you can fill up for free. More and more places are adding in water fill stations, enabling you to get fresh water and also save money! Also don’t forget to carry a reusable bag for your shopping.

Did you know:-Plastic bottles have surpassed plastic bags as the biggest threat to oceans and rivers

Support Local Farmers Markets

market

Hey foodies, we know you love chomp chomping away on your travels. After all, isn’t eating like 95% of what we travel for? Pretty Much.
So here’s the deal, why don’t you buy groceries from a locally owned market or farmers market or try dining at a farm-to-table restaurants while traveling? Also food tours that highlight local grown produce are a great way to enjoy the local cuisine.

This is my favourite! Shop local!

ubud-

Chances are you have an Armani or an H&M in your hometown, but still you are completely blown away by the window display and are itching to shop. How about gifting your loved ones something meaningful and small, that are run or made by locals, women and those that promote sustainability? Nothing beats bringing home a gift from a place that no one else has!

Take public transportation as often as possible or get a bike! Enough said.

Last, but not least, stay at environmentally-friendly accommodation.

Glasgow-Airbnb

I know this is a hard one to swallow for the honeymooners or budget conscious couple. You can actually travel affordably abroad through Air B-N-B and still get your privacy. Not to mention some of these homes are GORGEOUS! Or you can do your bit even if you stay at a swanky hotel. Chances are you’ve seen signs at hotels you have stayed in suggesting that you reuse your towels and bed sheets. Conserving electricity and water can make a huge difference even while you are on vacation.

Some of the places that support Sustainable Tourism:

faroe

 

Faroe Islands are truly cinematic. The islands are known not only for their picturesque nature, but also for their sustainable fisheries, unique gastronomy, and preservation of culture. You can explore verdant rolling hills, and dramatic waterfalls throughout the island.

 

 

nz

New Zealand has long been at the forefront of sustainable tourism and they have a vision of being the world leader in such efforts by 2025. Considering nature is the most profitable export of New Zealand, it is understandable that the country tries to protect it. The country is an outdoor Mecca for nature and adventure enthusiasts.

 

bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan operates on a “high value with low impact” model of tourism. With very strict entry requirements, travellers to Bhutan must be with an approved tour operator who will arrange all travel while in the country. All visitors must pay a daily tariff, of apprx $65 as “sustainable tourism” royalty.

 

kerala-rains

Kerela has been honoured for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the Hospitality industry and government departments. It has the first ever totally sustainable adventure park in the world, the Jatayu Earth Center, which is described as “a masterpiece combination of artistry, mythology, technology, culture, adventure, leisure and wellness put together to give every visitor a spellbinding experience.”

Did you know: Thenmala in Kerala is the first planned ecotourism destination in India created to cater to the Eco-tourists and nature lovers? 

kenya

 

Kenya: Over the years, Kenya has developed a number of voluntary programs to support and demonstrate its commitment to sustainable tourism. Many hotels and lodges away from the cities are now investing in alternative energy sources such as Solar power.

ljubljana

 

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Most people skip over Slovenia when planning a trip to Europe, which is a shame since Ljubljana is not only gorgeous but also one of the most eco-friendly destinations in Europe.

 

 

The responsibility to travel the world in a sustainable way lies with us. While there are other things you can do to be sustainable, taking these simple steps can make a huge difference as far as your impact on the planet!

The concept of “being green” has filtered down to all of us in one way or another – but how do we ensure it doesn’t become another Instagram trend?

It’s time we all engage seriously with the issue of sustainable travel.

Go Green!

Madhavi

 

 

 

 

PC: Lonely Planet;Pexel; Viator

Green Skies

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Did you know:  Two people flying in an airplane from New York City to Washington, D.C. create a carbon footprint of 472 pounds, while those same two people driving the same distance reduces the carbon footprint by half, to 229 pounds?

Every citizen desires clean air to breathe. As the high-travel summer season kicks off, let’s refocus on the environment, particularly ways we can make our travels a little greener.

While ground transportation is the single largest contributor to carbon footprints in the environment at 16%, Aviation is the second largest even though it accounts for only 2% Carbon emissions.

 Organisations like IATA, WTTC and WEF (World Economic Forum) are playing a stellar role in creating awareness and setting standards; while at the same time aircraft and engine manufacturers are evolving with newer technologies that burn less fuel. For instance; the easiest way to trim the weight off the aircrafts would involve the installation of lightweight seats. Seats made out of materials like titanium and carbon fibre, can weigh almost half as much as current chairs.

Airlines are constantly searching for ways to reduce their fuel consumption and also explore alternative fuels such as bio fuels. Responsible airlines like KLM, United, Lufthansa and our very own Spice Jet among others are testing flights with Bio fuel.

Bio fuels have the potential to bring about a step change in environmental efficiency – upto 80% less emmissions. The bio fuels, which can come from sources like natural oils, seaweed and agricultural waste, and through crops such as Jatropha; recycling household waste, used cooking oil or producing algae, bio fuels that can power aircraft could soon be used instead of jet fuel. This can help reduce planet-warming emissions from aviation.

What is needed now is a long-term multi-stakeholder approach for the further development of bio fuels to be a viable alternative. Only through a partnership of oil companies, airlines, airports and governments can research and development of bio fuels continue to make progress.

Also select airports mandate use of non fossil-fuel equipment, like electric/battery ground vehicles etc.

But along with major organisations we, as travellers, can contribute in many ways:

  • The most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint is to fly less often. But obviously that wouldn’t help, so the least bit you can do is take a non –stop flight. The more times you take off, the more fuel you use. According to a 2010 report from NASA, about 25 % of airplane emissions come from landing and taking off. That includes taxiing, which is the largest source of emissions in the landing-takeoff cycle
  • Where possible, choose airlines that use newer planes as they are more fuel efficient, offer carbon offsetting, have a sustainability programme, and that are investing in more sustainable ways of flying.
  • Travel light. Each kilo that we carry less, including our own weight, saves 21 Kg of CO2 per domestic flight. So ease yourself at airports, rather than in the aircraft!!

 

Until planes can fly on solar power or wind power (or an equally renewable source of fuel) air travel will always have a carbon footprint.

If you want to do your part, limiting that carbon offsets might be your best bet.

Of course our planet will survive, by possibly knocking all mankind off in a few hundred years, and take rebirth in a new avatar. But for now let us now seriously consider about saving our children and theirs, from self inflicted evils like water scarcity, pollutants, noise and the like.

Do your bit for the environment.

Madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Juhasz Imre from Pexels