Green Traveler Guidebook: Making Tourism a Sustainable Activity

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ranjan Bandyopadhyay
Student Project Members:

  • Reuben Thibodeau
  • Robert Tompkins
  • Tracy Doan
  • Ho Chung Yeung

In 2006, a record 842 million international tourism arrivals were documented worldwide (United Nations World Trade Organization 2007). Tourism is one of the most important forces shaping our world today. Economically, tourism is of increasing importance to many nations as it is an important provider of foreign exchange and employment (World Tourism Organization, 2007). However, several scholars have commented on tourism's notoriety for its potential to disturb, or do damage to natural habitats and local communities (Stronza 2008). In rural locations, tourism has been criticized for causing a surge of social, ecological, and economic changes (Belsky 1999). Although scholars have well documented the effects of tourism on the human condition (economic, cultural and social), they have ignored the relationship between tourism and the environment. However "the ways that humans regard the environment, the ways in which they use and abuse it, and the ways in which they try to protect it are continuously changing over space as well as time" (Butler 2000). Still, research on the relationship between tourism and environment is sparse. Thus, to attend to this significant lacuna, this research created a green traveler guidebook for tourists. This guidebook includes green travel tips for the world's growing number of international tourists to educate them to be more careful in their encounters with communities and ecosystems. Individual choices are the major factors in influencing global emissions from tourism. Thus, for each one of us, as a tourist, there is a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint by making informed choices and changing our habits.

Today tourists are more interested in "going green" which means rethinking their travel choices intending to lighten their impact on the environment. For example, according to Travel Industry Association and National Geographic Traveler (2002), 55.1 million adult Americans have ceaseless expectations for unique and culturally authentic travel experiences that protect and preserve the ecological and cultural environment. Moreover, more than half of all American adults mentioned they would be more likely to select a travel provider that uses more environmentally friendly products and processes (TIA 2007). Recently, there is a splurge of creating websites and publishing guidebooks to educate the tourists to be responsible travelers. However, either these are very sketchy or too informative for tourists. Moreover, these websites and guidebooks are more focused on educating the tourists on the economic and cultural impacts of tourism. Therefore, similar to the scholarly literature, it is important not only to conduct research on the impacts of tourism on the environment but also to educate the tourists how to be responsible on the environment. So, based on the above discussion in our research paper, we have created a guidebook - "Green Traveler Guidebook: Making Tourism a Sustainable Activity." We hope this Guidebook will educate the tourists about the human activities related to climate change. It is important for the tourists to be aware of the fact that climate change is the result of the so called greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide that accumulates in the atmosphere as a result of human activities, including tourism. This guidebook will contain green travel tips for tourists. Our plan is to distribute this guidebook to several places (e.g., airports, flights, tour operators, travel agencies, local destinations, etc.) for the dissemination of awareness. The "Green Traveler Guidebook" will, for example, have the following guidelines for tourists - what to do before traveling to a destination and what to do while at a destination.

Unlike majority of those guidebooks that preach the tourists what they must do, our Green Traveler Guidebook will be a quick snapshot intending to educate tourists about responsible travel and show them how extraordinary sustainable tourism can be. Environmental protection is an important aspect of tourists' holidays as a pristine environment not only enhances tourists' vacation but also increases the long term quality of the destination. We hope this guidebook will change tourists' understanding of the environment which as a result will have consequences for the growth of the industry and sustainable development in general. Thus, traveling responsibly and in a sustainable way will solidify the statement that "tourism is one of the fundamental ways in which we express our humanity and culture and it is also an increasingly vital way in which we explore the world and ourselves" (Robinson and Phipps 2003).