Global tourism has matured in the
past decade to offer new options for travelers wishing their
journeys to be as eco-friendly, people-friendly and place-friendly
as possible. There is no standard definition that used by locals
and visitors alike. Most travelers simply want to have a
good trip that causes no harm and most locals want to please
visitors who are themselves pleasing.
A growing number of travelers want their journeys to be less
invasive and more beneficial to the local community. They want
to better understand the culture of the places they visit. Responsible
travel is about treating others the way they wish to be
treated. While tourism campaigns have long touted 'destinations'
-- in fact we are simply entering a place
that is someone else's home.
HOW TO BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER
Once you arrive, here are a few things visitors can do:
TAKE BOOKS AND LEAVE BOOKS - Global understanding could
vastly be improved if we took (and left) better books on our
trips! Once you have decided where you are traveling, email
locals and ask if you can bring something. It's a variation
of the Platinum
Rule (Do unto others as they would like to have you do unto
them). If you have academic leanings, find out if the local
libraries can use more technical materials and take them something
they can use.
PICK UP THE TRASH - Actions speak louder than words.
If you are concerned about the environment, show that you care
by picking up trash and never throwing anything of yours on
the ground. As the adage goes, 'pack it in, pack it out.'
LEARN THE LANGUAGE - Learn and use a few words starting
with 'hello' and 'thank you.' If you have the time, take a language
BE RESPECTFUL OF PEOPLE'S PRIVACY - Some people do not
wish to be visited. In rural communities, wait until you are
invited to approach homes or groups of people.
BE RESPECTFUL OF RESTRICTIONS - Some communities may
be closed to visitors. Natural attractions might be off limits
for cultural or environmental reasons. When in doubt of whether
or not to proceed, ask first.
BE RESPECTFUL OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE - Traditional land
owners should be acknowledged. Aboriginal and indigenous people
working in tourism take their reole of welcoming visitors very
seriously. Recognize their connection to the land and you'll
learn to see the world differently.
BUY LOCAL CRAFTS - If you are looking for a gift or
a souvenir, patronize the arts and demonstrate your support
for local culture. Buying from a local artisan can cut out 40
steps in the traditional export chain. What not to buy? Items
made from endangered animals or pirated archaeological treasures.
CONTRIBUTE TO A LOCAL CHARITY - Ask around and find
out which social or environmental efforts can use your time
or a financial contribution. Be
SUPPORT URBAN ECOTOURISM - Before heading to the 'pristine'
wilderness, visit the city parks. There are few remote ecolodges
that are not visited in transit via a major metropolis. For
those inclined, please sign the Urban
YOUR TURN - Travelers and locals working toward responsible
tourism are invited to share your ideas.
READ AN E-BOOK - Hungry for more info? Download the
Responsible Travel Handbook (PDF) published by Transitions
IRRESPONSIBLE TOURISM - What is the opposite of responsible
tourism? How about irresponsible tourism?! There is even a web
that discusses the troubling aspects in travel such as wildlife
exploitation and irresponsible tour operators.