There are many simple steps to help green tourism without limiting your horizons, says Thomas Breathnach
Green tourism, eco-friendly, carbon-footprints. They’re the travel buzzwords of our generation.
However, while many cultural campaigns tend to trend and fade, there’s a real stand-out factor when it comes to the sustainable travel movement. The truth is: it’s here to stay. Today, global tourism accounts for almost 10% of all carbon emissions, meaning the planet has never needed its globetrotters to be more green when they travel. And just like with the food and fashion industries, slow-tourism is now starting to emerge as a strong sector — with immersive travel in one area in, country-ticking for Instagram bragging rights out. That’s not to say you need to staycation in Ireland for life — but whether you’re holidaying in Bantry or Bora Bora, little choices can make a big impact.
Planes, Trains, Automobiles
As islanders, we need to get places but once you do get to your base, consider train travel. While the industry may have gone off the rails with the advent of low-fare airlines, trains are making a comeback — allowing travellers to engage with a world better than flying at 30,000 feet. Need inspiration? Interrail (interrail.eu) offer myriad packages for over 30 countries across Europe — think a month pass for Italy from €95 or for Turkey from €46.
Once in your destination, shared bike schemes like Citi Bike in New York or Bycyklen in Copenhagen make a fun way to feel the pulse of a city without fumbling for underground fares. And if you are hiring a motor, Hertz (hertz.ie) now offer a green fleet of hybrid and electric cars — perhaps a good way to take a test-drive on your next holiday?
Choose your Airline
There’s no escaping the impact flying has on the environment, and while the airline industry is largely embracing the green-race, electric jets are not predicted to emerge from the hangars for another decade. For Irish consumers, thanks to its modern fleet of Dreamliners and 737s, Norwegian has been voted most fuel-efficient long-haul airline by the International Council of Clean Transport, with Aer Lingus sitting mid-table and BA almost brexiting the standings. There is good news for the majority who fly economy, however — you’re actually flying more efficiently than those sipping prosecco in business.