What Is Sustainable Tourism?

Visiting new places expands your mind, introduces you to new cultures and cuisines, and supports the local economy – but it’s not worth doing if that visit causes harm to the local people or environment. That’s the philosophy behind sustainable tourism. What started as a trend is now a way of life for many travelers, especially in Bhutan. The country’s unconventional approach to tourism gives visitors an experience unlike they’ll have in other places.

Sustainable Tourism: An Overview

There’s an unspoken law that environmentally-conscious campers and backpackers follow: leave your campsite in as good or better condition than you found it in. Essentially, do no harm to the place – and improve it if you can. That’s the philosophy behind sustainable tourism, too. The term describes a way of traveling that improves and/or respects the culture, economy, ecosystem and people in the places you visit.

There are many ways to become a sustainable traveler. People who are mindful of sustainable tourism might, for example, visit authentic cultural sites in a foreign country rather than visiting attractions that were built just for tourists. They should be careful not to cause damage to any natural sites (for example, by littering, defacing structures, or taking objects as souvenirs). Buying crafts and objects from the people who made them, as opposed to buying souvenirs that were actually manufactured in China or other countries, is another way to practice sustainable tourism.

Sustainable Tourism in Bhutan

Bhutan is a natural choice for anyone interested in sustainability. The country’s “high value, low volume” policy, created in the mid-1970s, was launched with the intention of minimizing the damage and maximizing the benefits of tourism. (It has since been renamed as “high value, low impact.”) Under the policy, Bhutan’s government sought to carefully regulate the number of tourists entering the country.

To this day, visitors to Bhutan must pay a non-negotiable daily fee, which includes accommodations, meals and other services. It’s an unconventional system, but it ensures that Bhutan isn’t overrun with tourists – meaning those people who do visit can authentically experience Bhutan’s rich culture and stunning scenery rather than getting a sanitized or generic tourist’s view. Ultimately, the “high value, low impact” policy allows tourists to immerse themselves in the real Bhutan.

Ready to see the country’s beauty for yourself? Get started planning a trip with FS Travel Advisors today.