(BEGODI) – Travellers may be temporary in the lands that they visit, but their impact on these places has a lasting effect. In order to help rather than damage the environment and local lives in these beautiful destinations, here is a guide on how you can be a responsible tourist.
Responsible tourism was defined in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development as “making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit”.
This idea may seem rather simple and obvious, but it is oftentimes overlooked. By having a definition to hold on to, travellers are able to be more mindful of the way that they visit new places.
To travel sustainably means that you only leave a positive impact on the spaces that you enter. As a tourist you are able to do damage to other people’s native lands without intending to. It is thus important to implement ways to be actively responsible in your life abroad.
Here are a few tips on how to benefit the countries that open their worlds to you, and in turn enhance your experience too.
Respect and learn about local culture
As a person entering into a foreign space, you need to understand as much about the local culture as possible. You must adapt to the new norms around you by learning the customs, beliefs and social cues of the country.
Making local friends is the best way to overcome culture shock and grow in understanding and appreciation of your destination. This knowledge will also reduce the chance of cultural misunderstandings during your travels.
Dressing appropriately and picking up on politeness practices are two important ways of showing respect, particularly in Asian countries.
Learning some of the language is another great way to show your efforts in adjusting to the space. Your attempts to communicate go a long way and will usually be met with great appreciation and warmth.
If possible, buy your food and souvenirs from markets and local vendors rather than corporations. You are supporting the growth of the local economy on an individual level, which enables sustainable empowerment opportunities.
Although it is customary in some countries to bargain, do not be too petty in your fight for the best deal. Think about how much further that small amount will go in the hands of a local, and be obliging in your purchasing practices.
Supporting the seller directly allows you to experience an authentic connection with the hands that you buy from. This makes your daily interactions more personal and meaningful.
There are always organisations looking for help with sustainable initiatives. And chances are they will be in charming countryside locations. Lend a hand to a worthy project while being able to enjoy these sights at the same time.
Your experience is ought to be much more real, severing the distance between foreign tourist and friend. These programmes will also allow you to get closer to the heart of the place. You begin to understand its struggles and contribute to its upliftment in a small way.
Support sustainable tours and accommodation
Look up tour and housing initiatives that emphasise empowering local communities or implement practises to protect the environment. Above seeing the sights and having a place to sleep, your money will be put towards doing good work. These operators deserve support and recognition, and need it more than your standard commercial company.
Local guides and homestays are also wonderful alternative options that empower the local economy directly. Your experience is guaranteed to be more rich, authentic and meaningful if you are given a taste of a place by the people who actually live there.
Be wary of wildlife activities
As a general rule, avoid close up interactions with wildlife as these animals are often mistreated for the sake of tourism.
Instead, look into sanctuary organisations that are registered NGOs. They will be transparent about their business and have proper systems in place to protect the rights of these animals. You may even be allowed to interact with them in ways that nurture their wellbeing.
Always consume mindfully and try to limit (or eliminate) any one-use items from your day. Don’t accept plastic bags and buy items without packaging where possible. At restaurants, opt to eat-in instead of getting a packaged take-away.
Keep your rubbish with you if there are no dustbins around, and pack snacks in reusable containers.
Lower your carbon footprint
Try to walk or use a bicycle as much as possible when exploring a new area. This is not only good for the environment and your health, but it allows you more time to take in your surroundings.
When you need to travel further, choose local forms of transport or commute in groups when you are able to.
If time permits, take overland options when travelling domestically. Buses and train commutes are much kinder to the environment than frequent flights.
Once you are aware of what to look out for, being a responsible traveller is easy. Share these tips with your friends and work toward a more sustainable way of exploring the world.
For all of your booking and travel needs, don’t hesitate to make Begodi your personal travel agent.