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With a business volume surpassing those of oil exports, food products and automobiles, the travel industry sends more than one billion tourists around the world every year. The soaring growth of tourism also has brought the advancement of ecotourism, showing that consumers are becoming more concerned with the negative impact their travel choices have on the environment.
There are numerous destinations we've come to appreciate and love for their extraordinary natural and historical wonders, including the unspoiled, serene beaches of the Galapagos, Mayan ruins found on the Yucatan Peninsula and chronicles of Rome's legendary Empire. By continuing to preserve such fragile places, we can offer future travelers the authentic experiences of the world's most priceless treasures.
There are many ways you can become a green traveler - far beyond hiking into the depths of the rain forest or camping in the Himalayas. In fact, it's gotten so much easier to travel on a clean conscience. You don't need to give up the comforts and conveniences you relish during any other vacation. Think of a paradise with sandy white beaches and calm, turquoise waters. Visualize a vacation of self-indulgence in massages, savory culinary treats and boutique shopping.
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. 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.
Traveling Green Can Enrich Your Enjoyment
There's no need to trade off the exciting experiences that make a vacation in order to protect the destinations you value. You may find that you'll be able to enjoy more of the beautiful sceneries, friendly faces and unique activities as a result.
Across all seven continents, from the dazzling city nightlife to secluded villages tucked away in quaint valleys and mountains, there are hundreds of ways you can spend your green vacation. See how changing the way you encounter new places can take your vacation memories beyond the ordinary.
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.
Opt for bus, rail and/or ferry transportation
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.
In the recent years, more transportation systems are actively pursuing alternative resources in an effort to preserve the earth. Numerous bus systems fueled by natural gas, hydrogen or biodiesel are rapidly becoming a part of everyday life. Europe recently revealed plans for the very first hybrid high-speed train, which was originally engineered in Japan and claimed to cut emission levels by 50 percent.
Discover new places by foot
Several of the world's most enchanting sights are set off from main roads, hidden in remote valleys, at the base of a glorious waterfall or in other places only accessible 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.
It Pays to Be an Educated Consumer
It goes without saying that the best kind of traveler is a prepared one. Just in the past decade, there have been many more travel options made available for responsible tourists, offering bigger ways for individuals to make an impact for the good for the environment.
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 addition to the U.S. Green Building Council, organizations like AAA, GreenSeal and Sustainable Travel International have launched green certification programs. 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.
Get the facts on reducing carbone missions
Many major airlines are taking action to reduce their impact on the environment. You may notice that some have switched over to electronic ticketing, cutting down on paper consumption and waste. Now leisure and business travelers are investing in "carbon offsetting"programs. This option allows you to calculate how much CO2 your vacation will produce and purchase credits from emission reduction projects (such as solar and wind). Plan to research the airline or nonprofit organization and its alternate energy projects before you invest any money.
To learn more about purchasing carbon offsets, visit the followinglinks:
Eco-ConsciousTravel: How to Keep Flying and Stay Green (New York Times)
Offsetand Away: This Holiday Season, Fly and Breathe Free (San FranciscoGate)
Looking for a Green Travel Agent?
With numerous opportunities for responsible travel, all it takes is one step: use an ASTA travel agent. In its continued commitment to responsible tourism, ASTA has implemented a Green Program that certifiesÂ worldwide travel agents and suppliers offering green services. In addition to efficiently managing all of your travel arrangements, ASTA agents are always up to date on the latest green trends and have an expansive network of environmentally responsible suppliers.
They can help you travel green without downsizing the quality of your vacation experience. They also provide you with vital information you need on the trip, such as your hotel's environmental program, attractions you can discover by foot and convenient transportation choices. An ASTA travel agent will ensure that you won't have to take risks in finding the green vacation that satisfies both your personal interests and desire to contribute to the welfare of the natural world. Be sure to look out for the ASTA Green Member logo, letting you know that the company is a qualified green business you can trust for your individual travel needs.