Every one of us today is taking vacation for a Weekend or longer holydays. Do our travels affect the places we visit? While tourism brings in lots of money to destination countries, can it also trample natural resources and history?
What is responsible tourism?
Responsible tourism or Ecotourism is traveling with awareness that we, as travelers, have an effect on the people, the culture and places we visit. We can find alternatives that not only preserve the destination, but also have a positive effect on the local.
As travelers we have the power to shape the world that we explore, by choosing our destinations, our tour operators and experiences that prioritize the care and protection of local cultures. By choosing responsible we help support sustainable tourism and the integrity of the places we visit.
Does practicing responsible tourism boring, less fun and less spontaneous?
Being a responsible traveler doesn’t necessarily mean volunteering. Traveling responsibly gives us way more of an authentic and fulfilling experience. Responsible tourism doesn’t have to be a certain type of travel. Everyone travels, regardless of his destination, budget and interests, and it’s not difficult to make a positive impact on the world while having a lot of fun along the way!
START AT HOME
Learn the difference between “tourist” and “traveler”. A tourist sticks out like a sore thumb. A traveler learns about his/her destination and immerses themselves in the place and culture.
Research your route. Try to find the most direct way to your destination. Air travel is one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions, and most carbon is emitted during take-off and landing.
Read up on local cultures and learn a few words of the local language, travelling with respect earns you respect.
Ask to see the holiday company’s policy for responsible tourism.
Learn about the products that are illegally traded or endangered to ensure you don’t inadvertently buy them.
Remove all excess packaging; be aware that in many places recycling, or waste disposal full stop, is tricky and consider buying some things when you are there, thereby also supporting the local economy.
Your responsible travel adventure starts before you even leave your house. Before leaving for your next adventure, make sure you unplug any appliances, turn off the water main, and Empty your fridge.
ON THE ROAD
By local produces and goods when possible, to support local communities.
Hire a local guide – you will learn more about your destination, and they will earn an income.
Respect people and their local cultures and religions.
Use water sparingly.
If you taking 3 showers a day in a country where getting water is a problem then think again. Water is a human right and yet tourism is one of the biggest exploiters of it.
Hang hotel towels: do you really need them replaced daily?
Switch off when not in your hotel room, lights & air conditioning don’t need to be turned on when you are not there.
Say no to plastic bags, and use your own bag. Reuse your plastic water bottle.
Use public transportation, or bike or walk when possible.
Be aware of any excursions on your trips that involve wild or captive animals. If riding an elephant on your list for Thailand? Well, it’s time to take it off.
Choose restaurant & shops that do not promote cruelty or exploitation of endangered species.
Take only picture. Souvenirs taken from the natural environment can leave devastating lasting effects.
Thank your local guide or any hosts you met along the way.
Give feedback and comments.