Trafalgar Tours chief calls for sustainable approach to tourism
Trafalgar Tours chief Gavin Tollman calls for sustainable approach to tourism
The Philippines shuttered its most famous holiday island Boracay to tourists yesterday for a six-month cleanup.
And Thailand's iconic seaside resort Maya Bay will be closed to tourists from June to September.
These extreme measures are taken due to heavy environmental damage caused by the overwhelming number of tourists who flock there every year.
Protecting the environment through responsible tourism is not only important, but imperative, said Mr Gavin Tollman, chief executive officer of Trafalgar Tours.
"Each and every one of us has a duty to preserve destinations for future generations. As an executive in the travel industry, I firmly believe this awareness needs to be a basic component in how we run our businesses."
Mr Tollman emphasises the importance of attracting the right type of tourists - people who understand, embrace and appreciate the places they visit, not those who travel to tick items off their bucket lists.
"Tourism needs to add to the economic long-term sustainability of the places we visit, it cannot simply be a drain on resource and local infrastructure with limited or no local contribution."
He brought up Barcelona, where the enormous number of cruise ships during the holiday season creates bottlenecks and causes chaos at the port.
There is still hope of salvaging these national treasures.
The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, where scenes of HBO series Game Of Thrones was filmed, saw tourist numbers skyrocket to 1 million last year. The visitors' centre, built in 2012, has been instrumental in managing the flow of footfall and educating tourists.
Trafalgar supported the building of the visitors' centre as part of Mr Tollman's three-step approach of dissemination, dispersal and direct action.
Disseminating tourism, he explained, meant preventing bottlenecks that happen during peak season, such as summer.
"We need to ensure that we are travelling year-round. We can then help alleviate pressures on destinations and also sustain businesses year-round.
He added: "We need to ensure visitors are dispersing, which means not everyone is trying to see the same site or attraction at the time or season."
He advised tourists to travel with a conscience, as well as choose a travel operator that is committed to providing environmentally friendly tour services.
Mr Tollman feels it is not impossible to marry the indulgence of travelling with environmental efforts; it requires only active thought.
He called on industry peers to support his cause, the JoinTrafalgar initiative, which vows to protect the places the company takes its guests to.
"It is more than taking it seriously. It is about changing behaviours - opening our minds and eyes to how big a responsibility we have to help preserve our precious planet."