The Importance of Responsible Travel

Seeing the world and exploring all it has to offer is one of the most magical experiences you can have. From skiing in the Alps to diving off the Great Barrier Reef, there are so many wonderful things to see and experience. 

But, while tourism has its benefits, from boosting local economies to drawing attention to untapped parts of the globe, there are also some negatives to consider. Increased footfall can be damaging to the environment, creating pollution problems as well as other issues. 

So, how do we travel responsibly? Is there a way to channel our enthusiasm for seeing stunning locations while thinking ethically about the way we go about it? Here’s a look at what responsible tourism is and how we can channel this into our adventures around the world. 

What is responsible tourism?

The Cape Town Declaration defined responsible tourism in 2002, stating that, while different destinations have differing priorities, among other things responsible tourism ‘…minimises negative economic, environmental, and social impacts; generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, improves working conditions and access to the industry…’. 

Ultimately, for the past 18 years, the message has been clear. When travelling to other destinations, travel there with the locality in mind. Be respectful of the place you are in. But this is not always so easy.

Education is Essential 

Whether you are visiting somewhere with high visitor numbers like Paris or you’re heading on safari in Africa, being a responsible ethical traveller means that you learn about the place you are visiting and understanding its culture. This is because even the world’s most popular attractions have to be preserved if tourists and tour operators don’t behave responsibly 

Developing an understanding of the place you are visiting can go a long way towards travelling responsibly. Educating yourself about the impact of plastic pollution on the reefs that you plan on diving in, for example, can help you to reconsider how you experience the location and rethink your activities while you’re there. 

Similarly, if you’re planning on indulging in a wildlife holiday, where you can take in tigers and other majestic creatures in the African savannah, now is the time to think about how poaching might affect the area you’re visiting. What is the impact of this on the place you’re being a tourist in and is there a way to travel there responsibly and still have an adventure?

How to travel responsibly  

Responsible travel is travelling in a sustainable way that can benefit the destination you’re heading to. To be a responsible tourist, there are a few ways to reframe how you see the world. 

Begin by researching where you are heading to before you set off. For example, you can learn about the 97.6% decrease in the number of rhinos in Africa before you book your trip. From there, you might decide to look at local volunteering opportunities to help wildlife during your visit. 

Also, consider your accommodation. Source an eco-friendly hotel by looking at each accommodation option’s green credentials. If it displays information about how it’s reducing its carbon footprint, that could be the perfect option for your stay. 

Buying local and supporting businesses while you’re away is another important way to travel responsibly. Dine at local restaurants and buy souvenirs that were crafted by people from the country you’re visiting to help the local economy and prevent your pounds from going towards imported goods.

Another way of travelling responsibly is to minimise your own carbon footprint while you’re there. Reuse plastic bags and opt for the local bus rather than taking a private hire vehicle. These small switches can go a long way towards helping the environment in an area. It how we protect the most beautiful places in the world.

What’s Next for Travel  

With the world becoming ever more conscious of the impact of plastic pollution and as the damage air travel is having on the planet continues to hit the headlines, more of us are thinking carefully about the impact we have when we travel. 

If we all change our thinking before we book our travel as we always have, we can all slowly start to make a difference and reduce the damage we do when we get there.

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