2017 was the UN’s assigned year of sustainable tourism development, which prompted a vital conversation among the international travel community. How can we continue to enjoy a wide variety of international travel while still ensuring that the places we visit aren’t affected by our recreational activities?
There are many dimensions to this question. Most notably, how to continue adventure tourism while ensuring accessibility yet preventing environmental degradation. Let’s explore some ways that we can sustain this effort.
Image Filename: tourists-hiking-trail-mountain-Voss-Norway
Image Alt Text: A couple of travelers on a downhill hiking trail near Voss, Norway.
Commercial Commitment to Minimal Impact
One of the most important questions people need to ask travel providers directly is if they have taken responsibility for the damage they cause, both directly and indirectly, and how they are mitigating it. For example, are their buildings green certified? Are they a member of an organization working directly with sustainability initiatives? Do they participate in ‘leave-no-trace’ principles? Or do they utilize energy-efficient transportation options?
Of course these are just a few strategies that existing companies can employ when tackling the ‘greenification’ of their business. Yet ultimately, it may be a matter of changing the way that tourism is perceived at a micro-level.
For example, at Outdoor Norway, the company’s vision for travel is about simple joy and appreciation for life. With a desire to immerse travelers in regional culture and support local businesses, they are trying to do their part to help curb the negative aspects of global tourism. A major part of this is avoiding the hotspots made famous by the internet, and allowing travelers to enjoy a more authentic and unique experience in Norway.
Focusing on the Organic Experience
Moving away from the ordinary and oversold is one way to ensure a memorable experience not had by many others. For example, on a backcountry ski adventure, between the beautiful landscape and perfect powder, one gains a deeper appreciation for the purity of living for the simple moments.
Similarly, by taking time to slow down and connect with nature without the distractions of everyday life, not only are we less likely to engage in high-waste activities, but we’re also more likely to adopt an eco-centric approach to travel, ultimately helping us focus on preserving these spaces for generations to come.
Critically Thinking About Our Practices
How many times have we chosen plastic takeaway bags and containers over dine-in, washable plates? How many times have we opted for the cheaper, international fast food options, over some locally prepared food? If we are to be critical to the way we travel across the globe, it is just as important to be critical of the daily decisions we make, as long as our ultimate goal is to make long-lasting and impactful change.
We understand that making the change from being a mainstream tourist to an avid low-kay nature goer isn’t easy. There’s a lot that happens in between, but the key is to make small changes now, and see how over time they can positively alter your travel experiences.
Being sustainable starts from being open to new ways of doing things and ensuring that everyone is welcome—which is our mantra at Outdoor Norway. Our adventures, low key or high thrill, can be the first step you take to being a more eco-friendly tourist in Norway.