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Ecotourism & Sustainable Travel

Q&A with Erin Hynes

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What has been your favourite eco-friendly/sustainable destination which you have visited?

In 2022 my husband and I road tripped around Iceland. I was really impressed by all the investment that the Icelandic government has put into building tourism infrastructure that is more sustainable, protects Iceland’s natural environment, and is accessible. Iceland has become a very popular place to travel, and so it’s great to see intervention that can strike a balance of reducing overtourism while enabling Iceland to benefit from tourism dollars. 

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What inspired you to live a more sustainable lifestyle? What advice would you give to Canadians looking to integrate more sustainable practices in their daily routine?

In my early days of backpacking I spent a few months working in a hostel in Venice, Italy. While living there I learned about, and experienced first-hand, the impact of overtourism. This is what started my awareness of the negative impacts of tourism, and from there, my interest in sustainable and responsible tourism grew. 

Many sustainable and responsible tourism practices are applicable to life at home in Canada, too. Some of my go-to strategies for sustainable living are to reduce the use of cars by walking, cycling, and taking public transport. 

Skip short-haul flights when other options, like ViaRail, are available. Buy locally grown produce, and shop in small businesses whenever possible. Buy second-hand and consignment clothing, and avoid over-consumption of clothing, electronics, and other goods. 

And lastly, Canadians can take the time to know where our political parties stand on environmental issues, and leverage the power of their vote to ensure our governments, provincial and federal, are building a sustainable future. 

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After travelling to so many places worldwide, what’s something you think Canada or Ontario specifically could do to be more sustainable or eco-friendly?

Something I’ve noticed on my travels is how so many countries, particularly in Europe and Asia, have high-speed train networks. Rail networks are a more accessible and sustainable transport method, and they make it simple to get from place to place without having to rely on a car or a flight.  

Traveling abroad has made me realize how lacking the public transport infrastructure in Canada is. If you don’t have a car, there are very few options for traveling between provinces, cities, towns, and more rural areas. People are forced to rely on cars and flights because they are the most reliable options, but these options are limiting and not the most eco-friendly ways to travel. 

I would love to see more investment in high-speed rail in Ontario and throughout the country. Imagine if we could take high-speed trains between Toronto, Barrie, Thunder Bay, or Montreal!

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