Changing the way we travel and consume culture is needed for the benefit of the planet and the souls of the cities we love. After a year of Covid-19 that upended and forced change on the global travel industry, there are promising signs. A finer balance can be struck. With a more thoughtful approach, tourists, locals and the planet will benefit from this.
The good news is that some people have recognized this problem for a long time. So there are really great examples of responsible tourism as well as sustainable attractions and experiences.
- Gardens by the Bay, Singapore – Pride of the Lion City
The most obvious place to start such a list is the botanical wonderland of Singapore. Gardens by the bay.
Opened in 2012, the gardens were built on the principle of improving the quality of life in Singapore for both locals and tourists. And this, by increasing the amount of nature and flora in the city with an imaginary view of the ‘more is more’ approach. The grounds feature 250 acres of tropical plants, water features, themed botanical gardens, indoor forests, the world’s largest greenhouses, and more. With over 50 million visitors to date, it can be said that it was a success story.
Gardens by the Bay is perhaps best known for the shimmering neon Supertree Grove. It’s a set of 18 towering tree-like sculptures and walking paths ranging from 25 to 50 meters high. Trees perform many functions. The most notable of which is to magnetize smartphones in the air every evening.
How Gardens by the Bay is Responsible Tourism Example
Sustainability and responsible tourism are not just initiatives added to Gardens by the Bay as a welcome addition. They are the central theme and idea on which the entire complex is built from the very beginning. Often through ingenious means. For example, Supertrees are also vertical fern gardens that help regulate heat and provide shade. Some others are equipped with solar panels that power the nighttime light show.
The Gardens feed on gardening waste such as fallen branches, bark, and dry leaves from the park itself and other areas of the city. It is harvested, mulched, compacted and turned into wood pellets. They are then burned in steam engines to generate spotlessly clean electricity.
The heat produced by this process is also used to efficiently regulate humidity in the giant greenhouses. It feeds underground cooling rods that cause warm air to rise up where it can be dispersed more evenly. Meanwhile, the ashes are collected and used as fertilizer for the soil. The excess steam is funneled through chimneys into the Super Trees so that it can fall as rain again.
The gardens are also largely self-irrigated, purposely designed so that rainwater is fed into a network of pipes, filtered through water reed beds to remove sediment, and fed into two artificial lakes. Lakes use islets of hydroponic plants to prevent buildup of algal blooms. The clean water is then reused to moisten the gardens. It reduces the burden on Singapore’s national water supply network. Seven million plants make up one thirsty garden.
- Botanical Gardens and Pyramids of Guimard, Tenerife – Planting Seeds of Resilience
We have prepared the observations and advice of this article based on the experience of the team. The Pyramids of Guimard in Tenerife have nothing to do with the famous Egyptian pyramids of Giza. Except that they are shrouded in mystery. The exact theories as to their origins are debated to this day. The pyramids were built as a by-product or side project of clearing agricultural land in the 19th century. But that does not mean that they were pointless stone piles assembled at random. It is clear that this required a huge effort.
These pyramids, 12 meters high, are oriented towards the sun during the summer and winter solstices. As is the Neolithic tomb at Newgrange in Ireland or Stonehenge in England. You can even witness a double sunset from the top of the largest pyramid on the summer solstice. The sun first sets behind one peak of the mountain and then reappears from the side of the mountain and sets again behind the other peak. Okay, Tenerife, you’re just showing off right now.
The Pyramids of Guimard are an excellent window into the ethnographic history of Tenerife. When only 5-10% of the site’s visitors were locals and only 2.7% of the island’s visitors reportedly considered cultural tourism important to them, the museum’s management wondered how they could diversify their cultural offerings to make the site more appealing to everyone.
How the Botanical Garden and the Pyramids of Guimard Are Responsible Tourism
During the construction of the ethnographic park, an extensive garden of endemic and local flora was planted around the pyramids. Until then, this garden had been mostly ornamental. A natural eye-catcher that made visiting enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing.
With a background in ethnography, the museum staff soon realized that this unique botanical collection was a culturally significant attraction in its own right. The plants can tell a lot about the culture and natural history of a place. So they teamed up with the Botany Department of La Laguna University and began to shift the focus of the complex itself to a sustainable eco-garden. They greatly expanded it and used plants to draw visitors into ethnographic stories, folklore and cultural practices of Tenerife.Have a break with Bizzo Casino and start gambling. From roulette to poker and slot machines, all the games you dream about are available online!
Today, the garden is a beautiful open-air cultural and botanical exhibition. It is modeled after the classic Canary Gorge. It is now one of the best examples of responsible tourism in Europe.
- Nordic Sailing Silent Whale Watching Tours Husavik, Iceland – An Ethical Ocean Time
Conservation and sustainability are key elements of responsible tourism for any attraction that keeps wildlife in captivity. But this is equally true for tour operators that offer the opportunity to visit wildlife in the wild.
It is easy to assume that watching animals frolic freely in their natural habitat is, by definition, more environmentally friendly and ethical than watching animals behind glass or bars. But for that matter, the ability to harm animal populations actually increases if they enter their territories. So the burden of responsibility here is even more acute.
Every year, thousands of people flock to Husavik, Iceland’s whale watching capital, hoping to see several hundred different species of whales that gather here to breed, feed, socialize and migrate.
Disturbing the natural habits of marine wildlife is a real proble. It even tends to slip under the surface unnoticed, and the passive nature of the whales makes them appear unflappable. Even worse is the likelihood of creature encounters. It increases as the need for this experience means multiple boats operate in the same area, with dozens of tours every day in some areas.
The problem is well known in the industry. However, there is one company operating in Husavik that has turned sustainable whale watching awareness into action. It created an example of responsible tourism based on non-invasive whale watching tour. This will hopefully become a model for others to follow. North Sailing Húsavík may seem like a small fish in a big pond, but they are a real hit.
Silent Tour to Avoid Disturbance
The first and most obvious difference is between most whale watching tours in Iceland and North Sailing tours. Silent Whale Watching Tours from Husavik is its fleet of zero carbon electric powered boats.
These refurbished old oak fishing boats can silently approach flocks of humpback, minke, blue whale and white-beaked dolphins without disturbing the creatures in any immediate sense. They also avoid adding more carbon to the atmosphere. It avoids exacerbating climate change that is destroying ocean ecosystems.
However, the use of electric boats is only part of the mission. North Sailing has developed its own comprehensive code of conduct for responsible whale watching. This helps to minimize any disturbance to the animals. Their recommendations take into account many variables. It includes entry into marine habitats, such as weather, whale numbers, prey availability, calving, animal behavior and other factors.