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Sustainable Tourism: traveling responsibly for a better future

Updated: Nov 29, 2023



I have decided to kick off my blog with this first article, inviting tourists and readers to explore what sustainable tourism exactly means, its fundamental principles, and how each of us can contribute to promoting this practice.

Sustainable tourism has become a central theme in today's world, at a time when environmental and social awareness is gaining increasing importance. This form of tourism is based on principles aimed at preserving and enhancing the environmental, cultural, and social resources of destinations while promoting a positive impact on local communities and nature. Doing my small part, both as a tour guide and a responsible citizen, I contribute to promoting the practice of "slow travel" in Porto and in other cities around the world that I visit.


Well, happy reading! :)




The principles of sustainable tourism


Respect for the natural environment: sustainable tourism seeks to minimize environmental impact through practices such as energy conservation, responsible water use, and waste management. Tourist activities should be conducted in a way that does not harm local ecosystems.


Respect for local culture:

it promotes respect for the traditions, values, and cultural practices of host communities. Instead of negatively influencing local culture, it aims to foster positive cultural exchange between visitors and residents.

Benefit for local communities:

it seeks to improve the quality of life for host communities by creating economic opportunities and contributing to social well-being. This can be achieved through direct employment in the tourism sector or investments in local infrastructure.

Promotion of education and awareness: this form of tourism aims to educate both visitors and local communities about the importance of environmental and cultural conservation. The goal is to promote a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities related to sustainable tourism.


So, how can a traveler promote Sustainable Tourism in Porto and other tourist destinations worldwide?


Choose responsible destinations: opting for destinations that promote and adopt sustainable practices is the first step toward responsible tourism, such as eco-friendly accommodations and using available transportation options to get around the city or between locations. In Porto, for example, renting a car is not necessary, even to reach the airport, as there is a metro line from the central station Trindade called "Aeroporto," indicated on the map in purple. It would be preferable to explore Porto on foot since the main tourist attractions are all clustered in the city center. However, if that's not possible, the city's public transportation network is excellent, convenient, and environmentally friendly, so using buses, metro, trams, electric tuk-tuks, and trains is the most sustainable way to get around the city. To truly experience Porto, at least 4 days are needed to leisurely visit everything without rushing through the list of main attractions. Moreover, using the train from Porto, you can visit other nearby cities such as Braga, Guimarães, Barcelos, Viana do Castelo, Aveiro, and many more, as well as the Douro Valley, in day trips starting in the morning and returning to Porto in the evening without the need for multiple check-ins and packing preparations.


Follow local rules and traditions:

respecting the local customs and traditions of the visited place is essential for preserving local culture and heritage.


Limit environmental impact:

minimizing the use of plastic, saving water and energy, and limiting waste production are tangible ways to contribute to sustainability.


Support local economies: favoring small local operators, such as traditional family-run restaurants located outside the tourist center, visiting craft markets, and buying authentic souvenirs there, provides the opportunity to interact and converse with locals, enriching your travel experience.


Embark on an innovative and interesting experience related to the region/country/city:

choose to visit and understand every place in the world as a "guest" and not as a "tourist" by engaging in activities that stimulate awareness and perception of reality. In addition to my city guide, I also offer interactive activities that promote excellent experiences, such as my gastronomic tour, a workshop on pastel de nata, and the painting of Azulejo (the iconic Portuguese tile). I have chosen to collaborate with local artists and entrepreneurs for these workshops precisely to support the city's economy and contribute to sustainable tourism in Porto. Another example, staying in Porto, is visiting a Conserves factory that produces canned fish, right near Matosinhos, and discovering this traditional activity in Portugal.


Don't keep staying in the city, explore the surrounding nature:

Porto has many beautiful parks and gardens. It has the largest urban park in Portugal, Parque da Cidade, and Parque Oriental for long walks. There are parks with sculptures and elements linked to the city's history, such as Parque das Águas and Jardim da Cordoaria. There are parks with museums like Parque de São Roque, the Gardens of Palácio de Cristal, the Serralves Foundation, and the Botanical Garden. There are romantic gardens like Jardim do Passeio Alegre and Jardim de São Lázaro. Also the Douro River that runs along Porto and the nearby Vila Nova de Gaia, a walk along the riverbanks of both cities is a pleasant and relaxing experience. Seeing the bridges connecting the two cities, reaching the mouth of the river, or even going beyond the Ponte do Freixo in Gondomar means seeing a landscape very different from the chaos of Ribeira. Not to mention the beautiful beaches that overlook the Atlantic Ocean and the adjacent ecoways that allow you to travel along them (but I will talk about this in an article very soon).





Conclusion


Sustainable tourism is not just one of the many trends of the 21st century but represents an extraordinary opportunity to enjoy the beauties of our planet responsibly. By implementing the principles of this practice, we can contribute to preserving natural and cultural resources for future generations while providing tangible benefits to host communities. Always remember that traveling sustainably is an important step toward a better future for all.


I look forward to welcoming you to Porto!


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