Sustainable tourism is on the rise in Cambodia and around the world. The main thought behind sustainable tourism is the concept of taking responsibility for your own business activities and results. This of course mainly applies to the impact of travel and hotels on the environment of the area where a hotel is established. Eco-tourism is a much used phrase, but the exact definition of it is not clear to many people. In eco-tourism tourists travel to destinations where as much as possible is done to improve the environment and act with respect to the environment.
Cambodia is a place where the environment has suffered greatly over the years. Polluting vehicles leave cities covered in a thick layer of fog and waste is often just left in the streets. There are heavily polluted areas and the rainforest that once covered a large part of the country has been diminished by logging activities. By 2007 only little over 3% was left of the 70% rainforest coverage that was noted in 1970. More attention to sustainable living and business activities is not only necessary, but is vital to improve the local environment. This can be done by using less energy, less vehicle pollution, limited the amount of waste that people dispose of and using renewable sources.
One great example of the impact made by an eco friendly hotel is the sustainable Bambu Battambang hotel, in Battambang. This hotel has gone to great lengths to source its materials locally. The floor tiles, roof tiles and most of the furniture used in the hotel, were sourced locally. This of course created more work for the local community, but at the same time time and money was saved on polluting transport of materials across the country. The hotel made the effort to use only locally grown trees, plants and shrubs in the gardens belonging to the property, which ensures that the chosen plants will thrive in the local climate. Perhaps one of the best features of the Bambu hotel is the salt water pool, making the use of chemical agents to the pool water unnecessary. This lowers the negative impact on the local environment, and is better for the guests too! The hotel makes a great effort to support local charities and school and hired only local employees.
The 4 Rivers resort is another fine example of a luxurious yet eco-friendly place to stay. The guesthouses and rooms are part of the beautiful surroundings and were constructed in an environmentally friendly way. The use of materials such as wood was limited in the construction of the apartments and composite materials were used instead. The resort features a specially designed water treatments system, reducing the use of chemicals and placing less stress on the environment. The resort is operated by people from the local community, creating a better economical climate locally.
Choosing to travel to (and stay at) hotels and resorts that value the environment helps to strengthen the local economy. Respect for nature and the environment in general should be paramount when choosing an amazing place to stay in this great location!