As humans learn more about the environment (and each other) there’s been a greater and greater push towards adopting sustainable tourism practices. It’s sometimes a little difficult to think about how our fun impacts the world around us, but there is good news, too. While there are models of tourism that don’t always honour the beauty of the land around them- but sustainable tourism isn’t just a term for killjoys and activists. It’s surprisingly easy to make sure you reduce your impact on the beautiful world around you, ensuring it stays as beautiful for generations to come, too. Here’s the Big Blue Collective’s top tips for being a caring tourist.
What tourism has done for the Caribbean
Of course, like most human activity, there’s been many positives to increased tourist numbers in the Caribbean. Many local people rely on the tourism industry for work, enabling them to run businesses and hold down work in their homeland, instead of having to migrate for better opportunities. It’s estimated the tourism industry here employs over 7,000,000 people directly, and up to 2.1 million indirectly.
However, there’s a flip side to this that can be problematic. Much of the investment and money to sustain tourist infrastructure comes from overseas, and sadly much of the profit returns there too. It’s not uncommon to import labourers and other workers, as well as products and other items, instead of feeding the local economy. In the end, this also reduces the tourist experience, as they don’t get the benefit of local immersion, local cuisine, and genuine experiences.
Environmental pressures and concerns
The tourism industry can also be very wasteful of resources it’s not always wise to waste. Water, for example, is typically used by 1 guest in volumes of 650l- 2000l a night… yet at home in the UK that figure is 95l-700l! Faulty cruise ships leak oil and petrol into the pristine waters, doing incalculable damage. Even the sunscreen we use, in enough numbers, can have disastrous effects on the precious marine environment. Plus, where humans go, trash follows- trash that can cause devastating environmental effects.
What you can do to be a better tourist to the Caribbean
That’s enough doom and gloom, however! Once you know that tourism doesn’t always leave a land scar-free, how do you balance wanting the holiday of a lifetime with preserving the very same gorgeous environment you’re enjoying?
Luckily, there’s many tiny changes you can make that won’t impact your experience at all- but will have an immense knock-on effect. What are some key actions you can take to move towards sustainable tourism? Let’s take a look:
- Support local industry: Shop locally, eat at local restaurants and not global chains, and do what you can to choose a host and service providers who live locally. This helps ensure your dollars go back into the local economy, and not the pockets of big chains- and that will make a world of difference.
- Be mindful: Don’t drop trash on the beach or on the back islands- rather pop it in a bag and throw it away back at your hotel or villa. Why not pick up a few pieces, too? Watch out for dripping taps or other water leeches. Tiny behavioural changes have huge knock-on effects on the environment.
- Go reusable: Cut down on waste by using reusable water bottles and shopping bags.
- Use responsible products: Environmentally friendly sunscreens, soaps, hair products, and more all prevent water contamination and help keep the seas healthy.
- Ask questions: Vote with your dollars! An ethical service provider is always happy to discuss things like what they do to support conservation activities and other environmental activities. Ask about where they hire from, and how they curate the environment.
- Respect the culture: The Caribbean is a friendly and open place, with tinges of many European cultures. So you won’t experience much culture shock, as you may elsewhere. All the same, learn a little about the people you’re visiting. It’s little things like this that can lead you to a whole new level of holiday excitement as beaming locals open up to you.
- Avoid unethical animal encounters: Pursuing whales in boats, or prodding wildlife to get a reaction, is the height of irresponsible tourism. It’s also one of the worst ways to experience nature! Look for providers who support ethical animal interactions.
- Choose eco-friendly islands: Places like the Turks and Caicos, with less crowds and more providers with a focus on preserving the beauty around them, make for fantastic holiday destinations without the environmental pressures of other areas.
As you can see, many sustainable tourism practices actually ensure you receive a more genuine and deeper holiday experience- so they’re a win-win all around! You get a better experience, and you leave a legacy of love and care that will echo for generations to come.
The Big Blue Collective is dedicated to ensuring responsible environmental practices in everything we do- and we’re always happy to help you learn more if you’re curious! So don’t be shy to reach out today if you have any questions. We’re proud to be able to offer some of the very best eco-tourism experiences in the Caribbean, and we hope we’ll see you soon to experience them for yourself!