Here we are, the most clever species ever to have lived. So how is it we can destroy the only planet we have.” – Jane Goodall
Where do people find inspiration to travel = Instagram. The infamous travel bug has hit an all-time high due to images seen on IG. In the past 6 years tourism has exploded due to photographers capturing Instagram “famous” shots that people want to mimic – but at what cost to these destinations? Chris Burkard, photographer said, “Now you’re less than 10 clicks away from seeing an image on Instagram to purchasing a ticket to go there.”
I’ll admit that the Philippines quickly reached the top of my bucket list after seeing images of the stunning islands on IG. I had to go! I had to see it in person!
And I did in 2017 with the best crew of people. We visited Cebu, Boracay, Bohol and El Nido, Palawan and it was hands down one of the best trips of my life. The waters were the clearest, bluest I’ve ever seen, the waterfalls were magical, and the scenery unforgettable.
So you can imagine my sadness when I learned that The Philippine island of Boracay will be closed to tourists for six months starting on April 26 following concerns that the island has suffered environmental damage. These beautiful beaches I fell in love with. However, this is more than just tourism – it has a lot to do with the infrastructure of this developing nation, and global warming. However, as citizens and tourists we have an obligation to protect the countries we visit and the planet we live on.
The decision to close Boracay, made by President Rodrigo Duterte, was followed by the ever-growing concern of the island’s environmental health. The president accused over 50 hotels, restaurants and other tourist businesses of dumping sewage directly into the sea. Islands have very fragile eco-systems that cannot handle overcrowding, pollution from boats and beachfront hotels.
The Philippines is at the apex of the Coral Triangle, making it an integral part of the world’s marine biodiversity. More than 500 species of coral and 2,000 species of fish live in the waters of the Philippine islands. During this shut down – locals will rebuild, restore and rehabilitate their island while learning about sustainable tourism. The goal is to make the Philippine islands environmentally compliant.
Boracay is not the only island closing it’s shores to tourists. Thailand’s Koh Phi Phi Island, made famous from Leonadardo DiCaprio’s movie, The Beach is closing from June to September. With almost 80% of Thailand’s coral reefs destroyed – it is the country’s responsibility, as well as tourists to travel wisely and keep the beaches clean. I visited Koh Phi Phi/Maya Bay ten years ago – I can only imagine the amounts of people flocking to these turquoise waters now.
So what can we do as tourists, avid adventurers, and travelers? We simply need to travel responsibly and ethically.
Tips For Ethical Travel:
- Oceanpreneur has loads of eco-friendly packing tips!! Great Read & Reference.
- Travel with a filtered water bottle to reduce plastic bottle waste. BRITA , and KOR+ are fantastic options.
- Don’t spray it. Find an Ocean Safe SPF that is cream based like Stream2Sea
- Try to use microplastic products – list here.
- Don’t use straws – there are glass and metal and bamboo alternatives.
- Educate yourself – watch Chasing Ice, Chasing Coral, Racing Extinction etc. The more you know, the more likely you’ll want to help or travel smart
- Support Locals
- Support Organizations fighting for the cause: Coral Triangle Center, and Ocean Conservancy are great places to start.
- Offset your carbon emissions – donate to the Carbon Tax Center
- Follow People that believe in sustainable style and travel – learn from their example. Recess City is one of my favorite sustainable travel accounts.
- 10 Questions to ask your hotel to see if they are eco-friendly
It is up to us to protect these places we set out to explore. Together, we can travel responsibly and respect these beautiful destinations we visit – including the communities, culture, environment and wildlife.