When we visit beautiful places it’s natural to want our holidays to have a positive impact on local people and their environments. Tourism is now the world’s fastest growing industry, but of course with that comes the increased responsibility on us to try to reduce any negative impact our journeys may have on the environment. Responsible travel is about bringing you closer to local cultures and environments by involving local people in tourism. Making informed choices before and during your trip is the single most important thing you can do to become a responsible traveler.
Before you travel:
- Educate yourself about the destination you are visiting by reading guidebooks and travel articles: culture, religion, geography, politics, ecosystems and local customs.
- Remove all excess packaging – waste disposal is difficult in remote places and developing countries.
- Ask us if there are useful gifts that you could pack for your hosts, local people or schools.
While on holiday:
- Buy local produce in preference to imported goods.
- Do not buy products made from endangered species, hard woods or ancient artefacts.
- Respect local cultures, traditions and holy places – if in doubt ask advice.
- Use water sparingly – it’s very precious in many countries and tourists tend to use far more than local people.
- Use public transport, hire a bike or walk when convenient – it’s a great way to meet local people and reduce pollution.
- Think carefully about what’s appropriate in terms of your clothes and the way you behave. You’ll earn respect and be more readily welcomed by local people.
Cruelty, confinement, neglect and abuse means millions of animals worldwide pay a heavy price for tourist entertainment – many even pay with their lives. Tourist activities that involve the mistreatment of animals exist for one reason: tourists choose to support them. So keep in mind the following points when deciding what to do on your travels:
- Posing for a photo with a wild animal is far from a happy snap. Many of these animals have been taken from the wild and are commonly drugged to control behavior.
- Animal performances place enormous stress on animals and can involve violent training techniques. It’s unnatural and demeaning for a wild animal to have to ‘perform’ for the sake of entertainment.
- Beware of animal rides. Many animals are poorly fed and given no shelter from the elements or access to water. Some are drugged or beaten to ensure they remain submissive.
- Exotic meat is often a recipe for torture and the result of an excruciating death.
- Animals used for blood-sport and certain fiestas and religious festivals are subjected to torment and fear and are often killed inhumanely.
Flying and global warming:
Most of things that we do in our lives contribute to carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. Air travel – although currently a relatively small contributor (less than 5%) – is the fastest growing source of CO2 emissions. When we’re on holiday, we tend to be more laid-back about things like reusing plastic bags and water bottles or turning off lights. If we can adjust our attitudes and general habits regarding responsible travel we can make a real difference.