Practicing responsible tourism in the 21st century is probably one of the best things you can do for the planet right now.
If you love travel, whether a short trip away or to a far-flung tropical paradise, make a conscious choice on your next trip to practice responsible tourism.
By demonstrating responsible tourism others will learn how to practice it too, set a good example and others will follow.
Read the tips below to get started in a positive direction of responsible tourism.
Clean Up – Responsible Tourism
Always pick up and remove your trash and recyclables. Find a proper place to dispose of them, if recycling options are not available put your rubbish in a bin.
Many hotels now offer recycling programs. Never leave plastics and rubbish on beaches, hiking trails or throw rubbish overboard a boat.
Don’t Collect Souvenirs
By law, many coastal regions around the world prohibit the removal of shells, coral and other nature from a national territory.
Tip: Instead of collecting your own souvenirs which is tempting, you could spend an afternoon shopping at a market for local handmade products.
By practicing responsible tourism your directly contributing positively to local communities and the environment.
Consider the Animals – Responsible Tourism
It’s tempting to ride an elephant in Thailand or pose with wild cats at zoos. Don’t do it! These practices do not help animals. More often then not animals are treated poorly away from the tourist eye. This is not a good example of responsible tourism.
Be vigilant about the local wildlife. Don’t disturb their habitats, by doing so you are on your way to becoming a responsible tourist. Consider this before you swim with dolphins or walk amongst turtle-nesting beaches.
Do your part by not riding overworked horses and elephants or visiting bullfights.
Make it a travel goal whenever you can to visit restaurants owned and staffed by locals doing so is a great way of practicing sustainable tourism. Do avoid large multinational food outlets.
By eating local as a tourist you get the benifit of trying a new cuisine and local delicacies you may have otherwise missed. What’s best is the fun of not only exploring the country but the wonderful varieties of food it offers.
Volunteer – Responsible Tourism
Volunteering is a great way of demonstrating responsible tourism. If you have some time to spare, consider volunteering at a local wildlife center. Can you offer an afternoon? Usually it’s all that is required to help walk rescue dogs, feed local farm animals and do a local beach clean up.
If you have more time to offer, around one week you can also work with local conservation projects, turtle nesting, and national parks.
Most animal shelters and local wildlife projects receive no government funding, often run by locals offering time and resources.
Be a responsible tourist and make sustainable choices in your next trip abroad with the family.
Travelling slower is not only great on the purse strings but great for the environment. By avoiding short plane trips and choosing to travel by road, rail and boat you’re already minimising your impact on the planet.
Air travel is one of the largest contributors to CO2 emissions. If you want to be a responsible tourist, carbon emissions can be offset by choosing the carbon neutral option when buying your next flight.
Check you Carbon Footprint Here by using the Carbon Footprint calculator.
If there’s one thing I dislike it’s fellow travellers bragging about taking 25 flights in 12 weeks… That’s not sustainable tourism!
Hopping from one place to the next after 3 or so days doesn’t make you ethical, sustainable nor an expert on said location. It makes you look like a knob. End of rant.
Sustainable Tourism and Eco Lodging
The first thing that most people think of when hearing eco lodges is huts in the jungle without electricity and a high price tag. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are more options available now than ever for sustainable lodging. Lodges that offer recycling, limited electricity usage during the night, conservation projects, clean energy and local tours by local people all contribute to being a sustainable hotel.
You can ask any perspective hotel or accommodation what their sustainable and ethical polices are. Ask them how they minimise their impact on the environment. Those that care about their environments are happy to tell you how they do this to promote sustainable tourism.
Travel During Off-Peak Season
Travelling during peak season only adds to the issue of overtourism, which I’ve covered here. Peak season travel is during the times when kids take summer break and school holidays, prices are higher, beaches and attractions are swamped with tourists. Travelling during off-peak times helps you contribute by being a responsible tourist. Locals will be happy to see the tourist dollar during off-peak times too, helping to contribute to the local economy.
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