11 Essential Ways to Positively Impact Sustainable Tourism in 2021


With the situation around the world becoming more and more obvious, the end of the Covid lockdown era will see the world re-invest and re-ignite their passions for travelling abroad.

Sustainable Tourism has never been more important in 2021 with many countries adopting and implementing future strategies and projects to maintain the healthy state of tourism.

And we are already seeing it in places like Australia, with the Australian Tourism board launching their own sustainability portfolio.

But what will that look like?

What is the difference between a traveller and a tourist and how do they each affect the tourism sector and the planet?

What does it mean to be a sustainable traveller in 2021 and what can you do to contribute to the ongoing development of the sustainable tourism sector?

Through our own experiences we have become more aware of the impacts that irresponsible tourism has on the planet, eco-systems and humankind.

Read More: Make sure you’re being a responsible traveller and learn if Travel Insurance is right for you


Here are our 11 essential ways to positively impact Sustainable tourism in 2021

Purchase electronic tickets

This may seem like a no-brainer, but purchasing electronic tickets for your flights is one of simplest ways to contribute towards being a responsible traveller.

Paper waste contributes a massive 16% of solid landfill waste in the U.S, and considering the millions of people that board flights every week around the globe, that’s a lot of paper going to waste. 

Pack your own reusables

Bringing your own reusable products such as bamboo tooth-brushes and water bottles that can be refilled from hotel/hostel water jugs.

There are great alternatives to buying your favourite dishes out at restaurants when you’re on the run like smoothie bowls.

We have created the perfect solution for your smoothie bowl on the run trick and you will love it!

One of the biggest hacks to being a responsible traveller is bringing reusable carry bags for when you go grocery shopping.

Ditch the plastic and reuse every time and you will make a significant impact towards sustainable tourism. 

Book a one way flight

Much in the same way your car uses more fuel to start the engine, a plane emits the most carbon emissions when it takes off. 

If you can book a one way flight that takes you straight to your destination then your on your way to being a more responsible traveller. 

Purchase local

Sometimes the difference between a tourist and a traveller are the daily lifestyle choices you make when on the road.

Where you choose to buy your food for example of being a responsible traveller.

Buying from the food chain restaurants or branded clothes shops that don’t re-invest into the local economy aren’t the best when it comes to being a responsible traveller or consumer.

Choose the buy direct from local manufactures and retails from the mum and pa stores.

Purchase your food from the local markets selling fruit and vegetables.

You know most of them dont mass spray their consumables with pesticides and insecticides.

Do your research into animal tourism

Most of the world is now aware of the cruel practices that many countries use to entice tourists to participate in animal encounters where they can feed, pet and take photos with animals.

Lots of people choose to ride exotic animals in Thailand, or pet tigers and lions at zoos all over the world.

More and more research and investigations have been done over the years into the true and cruel nature of certain wildlife parks.

Big companies make big profits from these practices and most of the animals endure a painful life for the sake of a dollar.

Wildlife is WILD, and a lot of research is required before you decide to support animal encounter experiences.

The good news is that places like these are fleeting and more and more restrictions are in place to control and re-educate these businesses.

Ethical tourism has come a long way and many places open now have become conservation wildlife parks, rehabilitation centres or have provided homes for animals that have come from the tourism industry.

Sustainable tourism can involve animals but it should be done in the most sensitive and ethical way possible to ensure the animals are the ones benefiting from your money.


Responsible tour operators

Many tour operators offer unique wild animal experiences in nature.

In Mexico for example many tour operators will take you off the coast of Isla Mujeres to snorkel with Whale Sharks at certain times of the year.

Whilst backpacking Mexico Laura and I made sure we did our research and chose the most ethically responsible tour operator for our trip.

Strict conditions imposed on operators by the Navy & local government dictate how close boats can approach the whale sharks, the distance you can swim next to them and how many boats are allowed in the water at any one time.

Although the practice is not perfect across all operators, restrictions are getting tighter and our tour operator was one of the only ones who operated under this guideline.

If sustainable tourism means sometimes you don’t participate in experiences you would otherwise like to then thats okay, as the priority should remain on the wellbeing of wildlife. 

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Don’t over bargain for a good price

Locals that sell goods at market stalls and shop fronts are out there trying to make an honest living.

We as tourists and travellers try for the best bargain possible, when in reality you end up paying most times less than $5 for a souvenir or item of clothing.

Think of how far that $5 could go in that person’s life compared to yours.

Stay in local bnb’s 

Staying at a local bed and breakfast owned by locals of the town is not only a really fantastic way to become a responsible tourist, but its also more eco-friendly.

Hotels and large chains use way more water and energy in the upkeep and maintenance of of their facilities, such as laundry,

You can minimise your footprint here by choosing to stay local and avoid apartment buildings owned by individuals.

Hotels wash guests clothes and laundry separately hence using significantly more water.

Sustainable Tourism has never been more important in 2021 with many countries adopting and implementing future strategies and projects to maintain the healthy state of tourism.

sustainable traveller

Volunteer your services

If being a responsible tourist means giving back to the community then no better way of showing that is by volunteering in your city.

Being a consumer financially supports communities, however sustainable tourism is so much more than this.

Whether you’re interested in volunteering at an animal shelter like Laura and I did, or visiting an orphanage or school to assist during the week is a really cool experience.

Laura and I spent just under 2 weeks at a Dog rescue shelter in Khon Kaen, Thailand in November 2019.

Even better if you have a skill or particular experience that can contribute towards the growth of the place your volunteering at is a bonus!

There are always opportunities to help at schools in rural areas, teaching English is a major one as well.

A number of websites offer different experiences and opportunities to do so like Pack For A Purpose or Grassroots volunteering

We discovered our experience through Work Away and had an incredible experience.

Do take caution with some experiences, make sure you read the reviews and ratings of certain places as they may have ulterior motives and may not really care about sustainable tourism at all. 

Hire an Electric car, or no car!

Transportation will always be a requirement when travelling and as such is a vital element to reducing your carbon footprint and playing your part in ethical tourism.

The world is slowly catching on the the idea of electric cars and more and more rental companies are offering electric options.

By going electric, you could save the planet 4.6 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

You also encourage a new facet of sustainable tourism by showing rental companies that there is a market for people wanting to go green and choose a planet friendly option.

Teach others to be responsible travellers

It’s one thing for us to adopt principles of sustainable tourism, but how do we show or educate others?

Through education and word of mouth!

Some people genuinely don’t understand nor realise the impact we have on our planet through the choices we make through travelling and exploring.

When you meet others while travelling, whether it be at a hostel or out in public do your best to show them how you travel that gives them the opportunity to change their travel lifestyle.


Picture of Christopher Aiello
Christopher Aiello
Christopher is the head writer and co-founder of Chris and Laura Travels. Having travelled to over 27 countries and counting, he has a passion for adventure travel in a responsible way. Christopher and Laura currently live in Melbourne but share their time between down under and the Canadian Rockies of Alberta. We aim to inspire others to get outside and explore through our storytelling imagery and video. Keep up to date on where we are by visiting us on our Instagram page or find out more of our story on our About us page.

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Chris & Laura

Australian and Canadian freelance photographers & storytellers addicted to travel,  inspiring you to travel the world.


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