ALBERTA

Sustainable Tourism Ideas From Bruce Poon Tip, Founder Of G Adventures

05/26/2013 02:57 EDT | Updated 05/27/2013 11:46 EDT
Getty Images
People eat dinner at an outdoor seating area at Finnegan's Way Restaurant in Miami Beach, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. U.S. exports in the travel and tourism sector reached $168.1 billion in 2012, up 10.1 percent from the year-ago level of $152.7 billion, according to data released Feb. 22 by the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images

"Never leave a local place without a meal with a local person."

That travel advice came straight from Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures and an expert in sustainable tourism, as he chatted with The Huffington Post Alberta during a recent visit to Calgary.

Canadian travellers are looking to extend their green lifestyles while travelling, says Poon Tip, not wanting to abandon organic food or caring about the environment when around the globe.

"There's a tipping point where people want to choose their holidays the same way they live their life," says Poon Tip.

The tourism industry is worth $6 trillion today and generates 9.1 per cent of the world's GDP. Travel has doubled in the past ten years and some destinations can expect up to five times more visitors.

"Certain areas are going to explode," Poon Tip says.

Tips To Travel While Being Sustainable

Sustainable tourism began when people started looking at the environments and cultural heritage of the places they were visiting, Poon Tip says. Travellers, he added, are increasingly concerned about preserving destinations for future generations.

Many islands in the Caribbean, for example, have seen local resources gobbled up by tourists.

"Locals can't enjoy the beach with their family," Poon Tip says.

Kids don't go to school the day a cruise ship comes in, as they're too busy pitching products to tourists who will spend up to $100,000 in a few hours, Poon Tip says.

According to a United Nations Environment Programme report in 2008, only $5 of every $100 spent in a growing economy stays in the country.

Many cruise ship companies own restaurants, shops and other activities on islands, leaving few dollars for local economies. Cruises often organize tours that take travellers to those very businesses, which helps them offset cheaper deals offered on the ships themselves.

"The actual issue that we have is education of the consumers," says Poon Tip. People need to be "consuming tourism as carefully as they choose the stuff in their homes."

There are always options beyond the ones that cruises offer, says Poon Tip, and many travelers never actually enter the country they're visiting.

"The consumer has to create the demand and ultimately all operations will start to create these," says Poon Tip.

Venturing out of resorts and eating at local restaurants create a human-to-human experience with people around the world, he says.

"Suddenly a whole network of people have benefited from your visit.'