Responsible travel is a new way of enjoying the many sights, experiences and memories of the destination you have chosen.  It ensures that visitors and local communities alike share the benefits of tourism and travel equally, and it promotes greater understanding of and appreciation for fair and equitable business practice. Being a responsible traveller is about putting back into travel what you get from it, and here are a few considerations that you could make when next you travel.

  • Ask to see your tour operator’s responsible travel policy
  • Ask to see the environmental policy of the accommodation establishment that you have selected – don’t be fooled by vague and unsubstantiated claims
  • Help the local economy by buying local produce in preference to imported goods
  • Ask your tour operator to establish the extent to which local communities enjoy benefits from your economic spend during your stay at a location
  • If bargaining to buy an item, bear in mind that a small amount to you could be extremely important to the seller – be realistic and fair
  • Realise that often the people in the country you are visiting have different time concepts, values and thought patterns from your own, this does not make them inferior, only different
  • Cultivate the habit of asking questions and discover the pleasure that you can enjoy by seeing a different way of life through others eyes
  • Use public transport, hire a bike or walk where convenient – you’ll meet local people and get to know the place far better – always be safe and considerate
  • Use water sparingly – it is precious in many countries and the local people may not have sufficient clean water – challenge any wasteful practice at your hotel or lodge
  • Switch Something Off – whenever you leave your room, switch unnecessary lights and equipment off and play your part in reducing greenhouse emissions
  • Don’t discard litter when visiting out-of-the-way places and attractions, take it with you and dispose of it at your hotel or lodge.  Waste disposal is often a major problem at outlying attractions and sites and it leads to litter and unhealthy environments for locals
  • Respect local cultures, traditions and holy places. For example, ask permission before you photograph local people – in some countries it can cause offence
  • Learn more about the cultural experiences that you are exposed to – avoid ‘sound-byte’ tourism and encourage tour operators to provide more insight into the dances, songs and traditional experiences that they present to you
  • Do not buy products made from endangered species, hard woods, shells from beach traders, or ancient artefacts (which have probably been stolen). When visiting gift and curio shops, be aware of the source of the products on sale and if in doubt, don’t buy
  • Read up on the countries you plan to visit – the welcome will be warmer if you take an interest and speak even a few words of the local language
  • When you get home drop your tour operator a note to let them know how you got on.

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