It’s important that you realize that if we keep traveling like this, tourism and travel will not stay the same. Maybe more importantly, the world won’t be same, and it is definitely not changing in a positive way. We as consumers need to understand that our actions have consequences. Understanding that there is a role we need to play by acting and behaving responsibly at home AND during travels is a great start. This is where responsible tourism comes in. Some call it sustainable tourism, green tourism or like me, responsible tourism. They all stand for the same thing: saving the planet from our own actions. There are, however, many myths and misconceptions when it comes to responsible travel. Let’s clear a few things up now!
RESPONSIBLE TOURISM DOESN’T HAVE A CLEAR DEFINITION
The foundation of responsible tourism is fairly easy – be culturally and socially aware when you travel. Understand the effects you have on the places you visit and try to make that effect a positive one. A bit of common sense will get you a long way!
Can you imagine that just a portion of the 1.2 billion travelers made just a few small changes in how they interact with other cultures and the way they travel? We could actually start making a difference!
IT’S EXPENSIVE TO TRAVEL RESPONSIBLY
This is possibly one of the greatest misconceptions when it comes to responsible travel. As with every way of travel, there are various prices. Responsible Travel is a great example of a company that offers a wide variety of responsible tours, they literally have something in everyone’s price range. From an overland tour throughout South America for $900 to a five-day photography tour in Finland for $1800. This company is great because next to sales they also have loads of information on how to make sure your trip will be better for the places you visit. After all, positive exchanges form the core of respectful and responsible trips.
YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO “ROUGH IT OUT”
Being a responsible traveler doesn’t mean giving up all comforts. This is not true by far. In fact, some of the most luxurious operators are leaders in the responsible travel industry.
Something else that falls into this category is the misconception that responsible travel can only be exercised in underdeveloped countries. It is true that it is most commonly associated with these destinations. However, each destination no matter rich or poor, the impacts of tourism have a negative effect on the place.
If you would like to check out some responsible tourism companies around the world. All these companies have found unique ways to solve issues that take place at certain destinations.
- Banyan Tree
- Six Senses
- Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
- City of Ljubljana
- Irish Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark
- Costa Navarino in Greece
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL IS JUST ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT
Looking after the environment is important – let’s just agree on that. If we don’t take care of a place, there’s not going to be anything to visit in the future. However, making sure that the people that live and work in tourism destinations are benefiting positively from the influx of tourists is vital for responsible travel. In the end, every piece of travel, from tourist attractions to hotels and transportations, all should consider the wellbeing of the people impacted by your trip.
FLYING ISN’T RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL
You’re not wrong here, flying is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, especially in the travel industry. However, not flying has impacts too. The world without flying wouldn’t be much, much poorer, this is all related to the 8+ million jobs the aviation industry creates around the world.
Flying more responsibly is possible, and it doesn’t always cost a lot more. Choose airlines with environmental commitments, and try to pick direct routes. Research shows that Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, and Thomson are good choices when it comes to flying responsibly. Nature Air in Costa Rica is probably one of the greatest companies to fly with due to its carbon neutral status.
MASS TOURISM ISN’T RESPONSIBLE
Mass tourism probably has the worst reputation of all tourism segments when it comes to negative impacts. However, every destination, no matter how touristy, always has companies working responsibly. You might have to spend more time researching with who you should do your tours, but there are definitely options!
These locations are also great to make an impact on other tourists that don’t know about responsible travel yet. If you make some friends at your destination, don’t be shy and just tell them about the experiences you’ve had with traveling responsibly.
I hope I was able to clear some stuff up regarding responsible tourism! Let me know in the comments if you travel responsibly!