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Responsible travellers and travel destinations – both are needed!

People want to travel, but they are also increasingly conscious about the environmental effects of their choices. In future, responsible operating practices will become even more important for tourism companies because informed customers are asking about them more and more. Visit Finland has started to develop the social and environmental responsibility of Finnish tourism companies by introducing the new Sustainable Travel Finland programme. In January, about 30 operators in the field of travel and tourism started to study for the Sustainable Travel Finland label in Häme. It is great that companies reflect on matters related to responsible travel. But what about the people who travel? Find out whether you are a responsible traveller yourself!

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The travel and tourism sector wants to act responsibly. Responsible and sustainable travel means travelling in which the economic, sociocultural and environmental impacts are taken into account now and in the future. The growing number of tourists increases the need for the sector to further develop sustainable travel.

Finnish companies have already taken care of many of the matters related to sustainable travel, but often do no advertise this clearly enough. However, investing in communication is worthwhile. According to Visit Finland, travellers find water and energy efficiency, waste management, the use of local products and services, local employment, preserving cultural heritage and taking into account the local population the most important indicators of sustainability in tourism services.

In January 2020, the tourism entrepreneurs in the region of Kanta-Häme convened to the first coaching session on sustainable travel. The leader of the session, Anu Nylund from Mood of Finland, has years of experience in sustainable travel. Around 30 entrepreneurs participated in the coaching. By April, each of them will have completed the first steps in the e-learning environment of Sustainable Travel Finland. After that, we will meet again and continue encouraging each other! Companies play an important role in helping travellers find the information they are looking for so that they can be sure about the sustainability of their travel destination.

Travel and tourism always involves environmental effects when people travel between different destinations. However, it brings vitality to the area that people travel to and also makes the restoration and maintenance of valuable cultural heritage sites and nature attractions possible. A responsible traveller looks for information and makes choices after careful consideration. Check Valonia’s checklist for a responsible traveller to see out how responsible you are yourself.

Responsible traveller’s checklist

  • Plan where you go. There is also much to see in Finland.

  • Consider your transport carefully. Especially Finland has a comprehensive railway and road network that is worth using. However, if you need to fly, always choose the most direct route.

  • Plan when to travel. When you travel outside the high seasons, you will even out the pressure on the environment at the destination, benefit local tourism entrepreneurs sustainably throughout the year and may even save a little with the price of your trip.

  • If possible, favour restaurants or accommodation that have an ecolabel. A restaurant or accommodation with the Nordic Swan ecolabel meets the strict environmental labelling criteria, monitors harmful environmental effects and actively strives to reduce them. In addition to Finland, the Nordic Swan ecolabel is used in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

  • Find out about your holiday destination in advance. It will help you to benefit more from your holiday.

  • Favour local things. Try to spend most of the money you use during your holiday in a way that benefits the locals.

  • Respect local people. If you are polite and considerate about local customs, you will notice that people will also be friendlier to you.

  • Remember to be ecological even when on holiday. Recycle, do incidental exercise, save energy and water, favour environmentally friendly products and minimise waste.

  • When buying souvenirs, remember that you should avoid buying things you don’t need. Make sure that endangered animals have not been used for the products you buy and that the products are ethically produced.

  • Treat animals humanely. Events that are downright cruelty to animals are sometimes used to attract tourists. With you example, show that cruelty to animals does not pay off.

  • Follow rules. They may be aimed at protecting nature or the local culture or to maintain public order. By following rules, you will also avoid unnecessary problems.

  • Give feedback. You should always give feedback, whether it is about increasing recycling opportunities, the consumption of water or delicious traditional food. Remember that thanking is also feedback! (Marja Tommola, Valonia.)

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Source: Tommola, M. The Consumers’ Union of Finland  Vastuullisen matkailijan muistilista.

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