The travel industry sends more than 1 billion tourists around the world every year, ASTA notes in a new consumer advisory on green travel. The soaring growth of tourism also has brought the advancement of eco-tourism, ASTA says, showing that consumers are becoming more concerned with the negative impact their travel choices have on the environment. They urge travelers to think about making their vacations greener and environmentally friendly and urge use of an ASTA Green Member travel agent.
“Whether you desire a peaceful getaway in the countryside, seek an exotic paradise by ship or long for the big, bustling city, a green vacation can easily become your dream vacation,” ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo said. “With so many options for every traveler, it's not hard to find something that's affordable and has everything you value in a vacation - plus a few added benefits that make the trip worth taking.”
In addition to the U.S. Green Building Council, organizations like AAA, GreenSeal and Sustainable Travel International have launched green certification programs, ASTA notes.. States have followed suit in creating rating systems or minimum standards designed to help move businesses towards greener practices. Certified businesses frequently display their green stickers (the Green Building Council's LEED certification is the most widely recognized), making it easy for responsible tourists to spot them.
ASTA’s suggestions for traveling green include:
* Travel by train instead of plane. Not only will you gain more scenic views along the way, but you'll also escape the headaches of long security lines and lost luggage. Destinations throughout Europe and Asia, for example, offer superior rail travel that allows you to save money and conveniently explore multiple countries and cities in one trip.
* Take a bus or ferry. Save money and gain convenience in getting from place to place. In your travels, you'll find several city buses built for tourists, which make frequent stops at many popular shopping and dining districts, museums and theaters.
* Discover new places by foot. Take advantage of many unforgettable ways you can capture amazing panoramic views and up-close experiences through hiking, biking or canoeing to unique attractions.
* Consider renting an eco-friendly car. If you need a vehicle for taking day excursions far from your hotel, think about using a car-sharing program like Flexcar or Zipcar, which offers eco-friendly cars with low fees and convenient pick-up and drop-off options. You can also reduce car emissions by renting a hybrid car or the smallest car that can comfortably accommodate you.
* Use environmentally responsible services. Hundreds of hotels have a linen reuse program, recycling bins for guest use, energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets and showers and alternative energy sources. Restaurants, tour operators, car rentals and other travel service providers are also finding new ways to keep up with travelers going green.
In its continued commitment to responsible tourism, ASTA reports it has implemented a Green Program that educates worldwide travel agents and suppliers offering green services through the ASTA Green Guide. Check out TravelSense.org’s ‘Find a Travel Agent’ search directory, or request a free trip quote online.