The myths & misconceptions on sustainable travel


myths on sustainable tourism

Eco-friendly travel is no longer a myth, and it is spreading among the travel community.

More and more tourism businesses are working toward sustainable tourism practices in their daily operations.

However, when we speak about it, we realise there are still some misconceptions on what sustainable tourism is all about.

So let’s break the myths by compiling those we hear the most when we discuss responsible tourism.

Sustainable Travel is eco-tourism

Many people think eco-tourism is going to an exotic place to watch wildlife and walk in the jungle. If you read the definition of eco-tourism, it’s much more than that.

The essence of being a sustainable traveller is to have a positive impact when you travel but not only from an environmental point of view.

Of course, protecting the planet is essential, but having a positive impact also means making sure your tourism activities are beneficial to the local economy and having a positive social impact on the area you are visiting.

Sustainable travel takes all three pillars of sustainable developement into account aka, People, Planet, Profit

The take-home message is that sustainable tourism concerns every form of travelling. That’s true for ecotourism as much as it is for cultural tourism, adventure tourism or leisure tourism.

Whatever your travel style is, you can do it in an eco-friendly way.

Eco-friendly travel is expensive

Green is expensive

Not necessarily.

You do not necessarily need to pay a premium to sleep, eat or enjoy your trips in an eco-friendly way.

As much as there are plenty of different types of accommodations or restaurants, there are of price points.

Sustainable travel can be budget friendly or costly, and you’ll be the only one to decide what you are ready to pay to sleep in a green hotel, b&b or camping.

Sleeping in green accommodation is too difficult

Dry toilets, no thank’s!

Many people think that staying in an eco-hotel will ask them a lot of effort or that they will have to make compromises on their comfort.

Sleeping in a green hotel does not necessarily mean you will have no air-conditioning, that you will use candlelight to read your favourite book or need to go in the backyard to find the bathroom.

But if you happen to go in some place with eco-friendly equipment you’re not used to, we promise, you should survive!

Sustainable travel is only in the countryside

Ethical travellers don’t all stay in farms during their travels, and they do not work in the garden or milk the cows in the morning.

Some travellers do, essentially because they like that kind of holiday.

You can travel responsibly even on a city break. More and more capitals of the world are pushing their green efforts. Plenty of green hotels, eco-friendly leisure activities and responsible restaurants exist in urban destinations.

Sustainable travel is only possible in foreign destinations

There is a lot of confusion, on where you can be a sustainable traveller.

Some people we talk to think responsible tourism is only possible in remote destinations, foreign countries or unexplored areas.

Others, pretend, it’s only something you can do if you are planning to do a world-tour, or do community based tourism.

But the truth is, as much as you can travel in your own region, you can be an eco-friendly traveller starting at the corner of your street.

Responsible tourism is volunteering

Sorry, but I don’t like working on my holiday

If volunteering holidays are gaining success, and can definitely be associated with sustainable travel, it’s not your only option.

Eco-friendly travel also works for those who like beach holidays, hiking in nature, or simply doing nothing when they take a break.

Eco-friendly restaurants are boring

Not coming, I’m allergic to salad

Relax, salad haters !

First, because a sustainable restaurant is not just a salad bar serving detox juice, nor is it a restaurant that serves only plant-based protein.

When it comes to eating on holiday, being eco-friendly is not only about #healthy food.

Eco-friendly eating means:

  • eating local food as much as possible and seasonal
  • choosing farm-to-table restaurants
  • opting for restaurants that minimise their use of resources
  • going to places that limit (or banned) single-use plastic
  • favouring businesses promoting social inclusion and help the community

If you want to go further, you can read more about what sustainable restaurants are.

Flying is not responsible

Tourism contributes to 8% of global carbon emissions, and we know that flights represent a big piece of the cake.

If you are travelling in your country and have alternatives to taking a plane, always choose the cleaner option.

At your destination, if you need to commute between cities, do the same.

As much as we are conscious that air travel plays a significant role in carbon emissions, we also know that most travellers don’t have three months to travel to their final destination.

The first thing to do is to start limiting your overall number of flights. No need to jump in a plane on every occasion, especially if a clean alternative exists.

And when you have to fly, take the eco-friendly flying basics:

For example, you can choose to fly direct because it emits less, choose your airline depending on its efforts in promoting alternative fuels, or compensate the emissions of your flight when booking your ticket.

Sustainable travel can be practiced by all traveler styles, for all budgets, all comfort needs and is really easy to implement, even with really simple steps.

How about you, what’s the misconception on responsible tourism you hear the most, or what are yours? Tell us in the comments.

Holiable is an eco-friendly travel planner helping you find sustainable hotels, green restaurants and ethical tourism activities around the world. Holiable was developed to share experiences, advice and reviews on sustainable travel, making it easier to prepare your next eco-friendly holiday.
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Join the eco-friendly travel community

Create a free traveller account and start saving your favourite places to visit, or review the ones you have been to!

Create my account

Tourism professionals

Is your business engaged in sustainable travel?
Highlight your eco-friendly features and help travellers find you for their next holiday

Create my business page