There’s nothing better than getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and visiting somewhere new.
Whether you want to escape to a local seaside destination or travel across the globe to an exotic foreign land, the last thing you think of when you’re planning it is what kind of environmental damage you might be doing.
There are many parts of the vacation process that can make an impact, but most important is ensuring that the places we visit are kept in the order that we found them, spawning the notion of responsible tourism.
This not only shows respect for the countries and cities we go to but ensures future generations will be able to enjoy them as well.
So, what is responsible tourism all about?
Responsible tourism is similar to sustainable and eco-tourism, in that it emphasizes being a responsible traveler and leaving the places that we visit in the good condition that we found them while being respectful of our surroundings.
This responsibility is on both visitors and hosts to make decisions that are ideal for communities and those that have a positive impact on them, now and in the future.
With the price of international travel at an all-time low before the pandemic and a changing landscape thanks to Covid-19, it’s never been more important to take this principle on board. We’re going to look further at the concept of responsible tourism and why it’s so vital to apply on your next adventure away from home.
What is Responsible Tourism?
Responsible tourism is a buzz word that has gained a lot of traction in recent years, and it takes the previous ideologies of things like eco-tourism and sustainable tourism to create something new.
This term was created by the tourism industry as a more encompassing way of travel, and for the green traveler, it’s the only way to go.
A responsible tourist will plan their trip based on what is best for the location they’re traveling to, including the community, people, and natural habitat.
They’ll make decisions about food, transport, and entertainment based on environmentally friendly and socially responsible guidelines, to make as minimal impact as possible.
However, responsible tourism doesn’t just apply to those on a holiday, but also the tour providers, accommodation owners, and others in the tourism industry.
For their part, they need to ensure what they offer visitors is low impact on the environment and encourages people to take care of their area so that they have positive consequences for the community.
The Concepts of Responsible Tourism
There’s no clear definition of responsible tourism, but more of a general approach that one should take to holidaymaking. If you want to ensure your next trip fits in with these guidelines, here are some concepts to consider.
- Contributes to better working conditions for locals and improves their economic benefits.
- Allows local people to have a say in how tourism practices impact their community and make choices based on that.
- Creates a more enjoyable experience for visitors with a good understanding of local practices in a respectful way.
- Minimizes the impact a tourist has on the area, both environmentally and socially.
- Teaches and applies the ideologies of conservation of natural and cultural heritage in the area.
- Embraces diversity and ensures better experiences for tourists of all backgrounds and abilities.
- Provides a culturally sensitive experience and allows locals and hosts to feel proud.
The Different Ideologies of Eco-Friendly Tourism
Where once people used to travel freely without giving much thought to it, people are a lot more conscious these days.
Words like “eco-tourism” and “sustainability” have been popping up more frequently, and it seemed many of the concepts got mixed up with each other. Here’s how some of the more popular terms differ slightly and what each of them means.
This type of vacation is one where you might travel to an uninhabited area in an effort to study and appreciate nature.
You will have low impact activities, learn about conservation, and study the environment as it is.
Sustainable tourism is similar to responsible tourism in that it teaches awareness about sustainability issues specific to that area, and ensures a good experience for the traveler and the community.
Responsible tourism works for both the tourist and the host, teaching about environmental issues, raising awareness about cultural and social issues, and ensuring that these locations are not impacted so they can be enjoyed by the local community and tourists of future generations.
Green Tourism Today and in the Future
International and domestic travel was at an all-time high before the world shut down over Covid-19, and people were traveling more than ever.
However, in the tourism industry after 2020 and as the world starts to return to normal, it’s more important than ever to ensure we practice responsible tourism.
One way that change can be made in the future is to opt for projects and developments that are more sustainable, rather than investing in large scale structures and attractions that are damaging to the environment.
When the world reopens and a lot of the tourist-driven towns and countries start to see people visiting once more, having an emphasis on these types of activities would be ideal.
There’s never been a better understanding of how our daily practices can be damaging to the environment, and the same goes for the way we travel.
When it comes to responsible tourism specifically, it’s easier to see the changes we can make now, and start to implement them as standard when the world reopens for business post-Covid-19.
Tips for Responsible Tourism
If you’re planning a trip, be it overseas or interstate, use this chance to practice responsible tourism for yourself. Follow these tips to make sure you’re taking a sustainable vacation and being mindful and responsible at the places you visit.
- Do your best to interact with locals and do so with respect. Listen to their stories, speak kindly, follow their rules, and don’t interfere with the way that things are done.
- Choose tour groups and activities that promote their interest in responsible tourism. Find organizations that give back to the community and engage visitors in low-impact activities.
- Leave no trace of your visit behind, just as you would on a camping trip. Be respectful of your environment, don’t litter, and don’t do any damage. Leave the places you visit in the same condition as when you found them, and never take anything with you.
- Go on your journey with an open mind and be open to trying new experiences, especially cultural ones that can teach you something.
- Pack only what you need to take and don’t be wasteful of any resources while you’re there. Eat food from local restaurants and cafes to support their economy.
- Contribute to the community that you visit, whether it’s financially or in another way. Be thankful for them allowing you to visit where they live.
- Choose modes of transport, food options, and traveling practices that are a low impact on the ecosystem. Give up a small amount of comfort if it means you’re doing something good for the environment around you.
Responsible tourism is the only way to travel if you’re someone who cares about other cultures, living beings, and the future of the planet.
This type of sustainable and eco-friendly travel ensures future generations can enjoy the world too, as too the people that live in these communities. To find out more about living sustainably, we’ve answered some FAQs that can give you the information you need.
What Are Non-Sustainable Practices?
A non-sustainable practice is a way of doing things that can’t be done forever, and one that may lead to serious consequences in the future if it isn’t changed.
This includes practices like mining, wasting water, and polluting the earth, as they cannot be undone and aren’t viable to do long term.
How to Travel Sustainably?
Traveling sustainably means making choices that are better for the environment, and can include the method of transport that takes you there or even the accommodation you stay in.
To travel sustainably, you can support the local economy, keep your impact minimal, and do not harm surrounding wildlife to ensure a sustainable vacation for future generations and the local community.
How Can I Be Eco Friendly at the Beach?
Visiting the beach is a low impact activity, provided you follow some guidelines to reduce your impression and stay mindful of the marine life and ecosystem that surrounds it.
Never leave behind trash, keep everything as you found it, don’t bother the local wildlife, and use biodegradable sunscreen.