You want to experience typical tasty, healthy, seasonal regional food, stay in family-run traditional or innovative accommodation in Europe, travel in an environmentally-friendly and socially responsible way - and pay fair prices to enjoy an exceptional travel experience?
That’s what Sustainable Tourism is all about! Many environmental measures in hotels,bed & breakfast establishments or camping sites take place behind the scenes: for example, water conservation, energy-saving light bulbs, environmentally-friendly cleaning materials as well as recycling.
Other measures in the destinations actively involve you as a visitor to the city or countryside, the coastal or mountain destination: visitors’ tickets for public transport, information about the local environment, environmentally-friendly leisure activities and typical regional dishes made from local produce give you the choice.
If you want to experience Europe at its best, to help make your contribution towards sustainable development at your holiday destination, and to come back home with a smile – here are some suggestions:
Get in the know:
Do some research beforehand to give you a better overview of the richness and diversity of sustainable tourism product in your country of interest before you start: special sites on the Internet and travel magazines can help inform you about the various offers from tour operators, accommodation businesses, destinations, attractions as well as activities in summer and winter.
Information services for travellers:
* www.sustainabletravelinternational.org US-based international information services for customers.
* www.responsibletravel.com UK-based service for customers with tips, guidance and tourism offer worldwide.
* www.gentle-tours.org Online database with accommodation businesses, destinations, tour packages.
* www.greentravelmarket.info Online database and information service for tour operators and professionals.
* www.reisepavillon-online.de An annual sustainable tourism fair: exhibitors and program online.
* www.toinitiative.org 20 international tour operators committed to support sustainable development in their destinations.
In German language
* www.fairunterwegs.org Key information on all countries, tips for preparation and stay (German).
* www.vertraeglich-reisen.de An annual print and on-line magazine with articles, tips and tourism products (German).
* www.forumandersreisen.de network of more than 100 specialised tour operators which offer highly sustainable tourism packages.
* www.eco-travel.de Travel packages and services recommended by the ECO-WORLD portal (German).
* www.zukunft-reisen.de Tips and step-by-step guidance for travellers to help them make their choice (German).
Choose train and public transport for travelling both to and within your destination:
It’s less harmful to the environment and less stress for you. 'Soft mobility', as it's often called, is possible in all destinations - and some even offer special “visitor cards” for free use of the public transport system e.g. in the Black Forest in Germany. And if you fly: compensate your CO2 emission by supporting a carbon offset fund.
* www.soft-mobility.com European network of tourist destinations and services supporting "soft mobility" for their guests.
* www.atmosfair.com Carbon offset fund.
* www.alpine-pearls.com A group of alpine destinations offering excellent mobility without the need for your own car.
Look for an eco-certified accommodation service in your preferred destination:
More than 3,000 hotels, camping sites, bed & breakfasts, group accommodation businesses and holiday homes in Europe have been given an eco-award for their high environmental standards.
Ask for information about special events, attractions and activities that help you to experience the local culture and nature in a responsible way.
Many tourist offices can give you tips for responsible tourism, as well as addresses of local tour guides and travel agencies which take care of the environment and the social needs of the local population - whilst at the same time offering you a unique experience.
“Eat and drink your destination" at its best:
Special dishes made of local “short distance” fresh ingredients (so they use less air-miles to get to your plate), traditionally or creatively prepared, with or without meat, the choice is yours. In some destinations a regional brand logo helps you to identify products or souvenirs which help to strengthen the local economy and also ensure jobs and income for the local population. Simply ask in the Tourist Office or organic food shop for recommendations.
"Good morning", "please" and "thank you"
"Guten Tag", "Bitte" and "Danke schön", "Bonjour", "s’il vous plaît" and "merci" ... a few words in the national language of the country you are visiting will positively surprise your hosts as well as people in the street. Book shops offer practical travel guide books for all countries, with a little dictionary and special recommendations for responsible travelling there.
Many hotels and destinations may ask you to contribute to their efforts in saving their environmental resources and their natural heritage, e.g. simply using towels next day again or keeping distance to breeding birds – please do so!
In Europe there are many environmental certificates, eco-labels, awards and brands for tourism services. They have certified altogether more than 5,000 accommodation businesses, beaches, marinas, destinations or tour packages which actively:
* Protect nature and the landscape
* Buy local, environmentally-friendly products and organic food
* Reduce energy and water consumption and use renewable energy
* Ensure proper treatment of sewage and recycle waste
* Use and recommend public and environmentally-friendly transport
* Inform their visitors about their activities and environmentally-friendly alternatives
You can find additional infromation about Sustainable Tourism on Destinet.