Sustainable tourism is a type of tourism that considers the environmental, economic, and social impacts of travel. It aims to minimize the adverse effects of tourism on the environment and local communities while maximizing the benefits of tourism for those communities.
One of the main principles of sustainable tourism is responsible travel. This means that tourists respect the local culture, economy, and environment. Part of this is to seek eco-friendly accommodations, support of local businesses, and no harm to the community.
Like many tourist areas worldwide, Gunnison Valley needs more housing and increased affordability for locals. Essential workers cannot find housing, including medical personnel, public employees, college staff, waitstaff, retail and grocery store employees, and federal and state workers. It also affects older parents who need to be closer to family and business owners who cannot find employees. The entire valley, even those with homes, is impacted by this crisis.
A common phrase is ‘I am housing insecure.’ What a horrible thing for a parent to admit. Employees in the area are living in the forest. Families are forced to leave. Businesses run short-handed and cut hours and services.
The current housing crisis does not stem from just one source. One of the contributing factors to the housing crisis is the explosion of short-term rentals in the valley. What was once housing for families in residential areas has now turned into hotels for visitors.
We believe that tourists want to do the right thing for the communities they visit. If tourists stay in hotels, motels, hostels, and other commercial lodging properties, the investors of the short-term rentals will find they make a better income by returning to renting these homes to the waitress, the meat cutter, the school teacher, the nurse or the Western student. When an Airbnb listing is no longer so profitable, investors will turn to other investments elsewhere and stop buying homes here. This will help with housing affordability as there will be less competition for homes.
Sustainable tourism is a responsible and ethical way to travel that benefits both the environment and local communities. By choosing to travel sustainably, tourists can positively impact the places they visit and promote a more sustainable and equitable tourism industry.
Interesting in learning more about sustainable tourism? There are many good resources online. Here is one of our favorites:
Island Acres is committed to sustainability: for the environment, our community, and our planet. We will be writing more blogs in the future on this most important topic.