“Dear Mother Nature. I’m writing to apologise on behalf of humanity and those who have contributed to your poor health. I condemn those who have done it consciously and I hope that they have started their journey towards redemption. For those committing such deeds unconsciously, and making you ill purely out of ignorance, I hope I can make a small contribution by sharing my knowledge and make them aware of how they are affecting you.
I don’t know if it’s because of the position I currently occupy or if whether it is because I have simply become more aware of my environment but in the past several months of travel I have started to notice and pay more attention to my surroundings and the poor condition of some of our tourism destinations.
I enjoy going for a run in the morning, especially if I am at a beach destination as I enjoy the feeling of running on a sandy beach. However, what I have witnessed lately is that the amount of plastic bags, bottles and other waste on our shores and in the sea seems to be growing at a phenomenal rate.
In some destinations there is so much waste that it has become unsafe to walk on the beach or swim in the sea. If these destinations do not take care of their land and ocean environments they will experience a downturn in tourism revenues as tourists seek more environmentally responsible places for their holidays.
Today, I find myself refusing plastic and paper bags at shops as I can easily carry things in my hands. I pay more attention to my water consumption, make an effort to recycle and consciously reduce my electricity consumption. As for paper consumption, people who know me well know that I have a paperless office and will often refuse a paper document handed to me.
The tourism industry has a responsibility towards protecting nature as we are the benefactors of its good health. The public and private tourism sectors need to have a concerted effort towards the protection of our environments. I believe that our environmental consciousness needs to be developed at a young age and should be part of a school’s curriculum so that younger generations can educate their parents and elders about the small things they can do to help.
There are many small organisations in various destinations that are making important contributions to the protection of the environment. These organisations include BookGreener, Cimborazo and Gringgo. However, they need our help if they are to make a difference. Destinations should support these initiatives as it is clearly in their best interests to act responsibly.
At PATA we are proud to be associated with several internationally recognised programmes that help to promote a more sustainable tourism industry. We work with many organisations such as GSTC, EarthCheck, Travelife, UNEP, and Reef-World Foundation.
Last year, at PATA HQ in Bangkok, we began our journey towards a more environmentally friendly workplace. We are proud to have achieved our Bronze Benchmarked Sustainability Certification by EarthCheck and we are now on our way to achieving our Silver credentials. We are constantly striving to be more sustainable and I invite you to read about some of our recent initiatives on our new PATA Sustainability News page!
Maybe you can start your own personal letter to Mother Nature to help establish your own path to a more environmentally conscious mind and start thinking about the little things you can do to make a difference in your personal life, at work and in your community. And be sure to subscribe our weekly newsletter, PATA Voice, for tips on how you can become greener too.
Till next time,
Chief Executive Officer
Pacific Asia Travel Association