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Responsible Travel

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Responsible travel is a way of travelling where we respect and benefit local people and the environment. It is for those who've had enough of mass tourism. Responsible travel and tourism has also been defined as "treating others the way they wish to be treated". Today, responsible tousrism has been extended to include the entire process of travel and tourism, right from the time you start planning for your trip to after completing the trip.

Things to be mindful of:

  • respect the local culture and support it
  • do not inadvertently introduce new social ills, attempt to minimize negative economic, environmental, and social impacts
  • promote & practice environmental responsibility in the places visited;
  • make positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world’s diversity.

Contents

[edit] New Terms and Definitions

Responsible travel goes far beyond fancy packaging and eco-certification. It also goes far beyond simplistic internal hotel policies of washing sheets and towels, or accommodations simply being located in natural jungle or forest areas. Responsible tourism has to do with an everyday lifestyle that promotes cultural and biological diversity, and promotes environmental and natural resource conservation, at home and while traveling.

Several new definitions and terms are now associated with Responsible Tourism, namely;

[edit] Tips for traveling responsibly

[edit] Things to consider...before you go

  • Use internet to research for a broader range of options and information about your destination.
  • When planning a holiday, please avoid asking for a lot of different brochures as most of the information is available online. In fact, most travel companies provide electronic versions of the brochures you desire.
  • Select hotels based on their demonstrated green credentials – many internet booking engines now offer information on eco-friendly hotel options. These accommodations have introduced eco-friendly practices and have made efforts to reduce their energy and water consumption and waste production.
  • If you intend to visit areas of natural or cultural significance, ensure you plan the visit with tour guides who have environmental accreditation – this will ensure that the visit does not have any negative impact on the surroundings.
  • Make yourself aware of (and possibly get trained on) 'Leave No Trace' outdoor ethics especialy when travelling to places with fragile ecosystems.
  • Speak to your travel agent or visit the tourism website of your destination to learn more about their public transport system – in some destinations it is easier (and cheaper) to use public transport than to rent private vehicles or hire taxis.
  • When booking your flight, insist on electronic tickets. It saves paper and ensures you are less likely to lose your documents when you travel.
  • Remember to unplug all of unnecessary electrical appliances (TVs and audio visual equipment, kitchen appliances such as kettles, microwaves and toasters) in your home prior to departing. Many of these items still use energy (or more) when they are in off or standby mode. By unplugging them, you will decrease your home’s energy usage as well as reduce your electricity bill.

[edit] Things to consider...while you travel

  • Use the online check-in counter at the airport – most major airports offer this service, saving time in long queues and unnecessary paper.
  • Take advantage of public transport air transfers that are available upon arrival in your destination. Most major airports have this as an option, and in some instances (see London Heathrow for an example) coach transfers take you directly to your hotel.
  • When checking in to your hotel, ask the staff about the hotel’s environmental policies and what they can do as a guest to assist them (not having your sheets and towels changed every day to cut down on water usage etc).
  • Always turn off the lights in your room and check all taps before you go out and explore the area.
  • Use a digital camera for photos – you can review the image instantly and decide whether they wish to keep it or need to shoot the photo again. Using traditional film-reliant cameras can lead to excess paper use, and often results in photos that you don’t want to keep!
  • Rather than send postcards from your destination, email friends and family e-cards. Most national tourism boards have e-cards available on their websites with images of significant landmarks. Doing this saves paper, postage and the CO2 emissions from the postcard’s journey.
  • Take advantage of the local restaurants and sample local cuisines in the area you are visiting. It is a fantastic way to experience the authentic culture of a destination, ensures you are supporting the local population, and assists the environment as the food was produced locally and hence hasn’t required excess transportation.
  • Respect local culture and try and adhere to local customs. Make yourself aware of the dos and donts from the local state travel authorities especially those regarding photography, local laws, common etiquettes, dressing and fashion. This will keep out of unnecessary trouble and help you make more meaningful connections with local people.

[edit] Things to consider... when you have completed your trip

  • Take advantage of the public transport options available upon your return home – most new airports are equipped with efficient transport services that will take you at least part of the way home.
  • If you struggled to find eco-friendly options at any of the accommodations you stayed in, send an email to let them know that you think they should consider adopting some of the other practices you have seen – it is only when customers take a stand that organisations start to change their practices!
  • Encourage others to take advantage of the responsible travel options you discovered – this page is a good page to start documenting your experience.
  • Inform your travel agent of any positive/negative behaviour you witnessed while travelling – they are an invaluable source to people booking their trips and when it comes to accommodation, flight and tour options they encourage or dissuade travellers based on their former clients’ recommendations. Share your knowledge through various forums, blogs and wikis (like this one).

[edit] References

  • Green Globe International
  • Responsible Travel Handbook
  • Responsible Travel
  • Leave No Trace - Centre for Outdoor Ethics
  • Planeta.com - Global Journal of Practical Ecotourism


[edit] See Also