What is responsible tourism? The UN has declared 2017 the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. I am so excited! It’s an entire year dedicated to reminding us that tourism is not only about seeing destinations. It’s about connecting with local people and local cultures. The goal is to minimize our impact on the environment, and to grow local economies, creating peace through understanding.
It’s a great opportunity to make a difference in each other’s lives no matter where we are in the world.
I am proud of my role as a 2017 Ambassador of Change to support #IY2017.
Responsible Travel – Part One
Are You Judging The Way I Travel?
Can I be honest?
When I talk about responsible travel or even the broader term, Sustainable Travel, it can conjure up all sorts of uncomfortable looks from “are you judging me and my travels?” to “are you calling me irresponsible?”
The last thing anyone wants is to be beaten over the head with ethics or add another thing to their list of Things We Should Be Doing Every Day.
Yet, the sad fact is that the more people travel to a destination or site, the less likely it is to survive, if protection measures aren’t in place. That’s why ecotourism is so important!
And I’m not just talking about an iconic place, such as the Coliseum in Rome or the temples in Angor Wat. It also has to do with local culture, economy and environment. The topic is so crucial to the world that the UN has declared 2017 as the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.#IY2017.
How to Make Responsible Tourism Work For Your Travel Needs
Vacation planning is hard enough without adding the element of responsible travel into it. Or is it?
My goal is to make things much easier for you.
To be clear, this is something I do for my clients in their travel itineraries I plan, but there are ways you can weave responsible travel into vacations you are already planning.
It is more about a mindset than a checklist, although in other blogs I will share the factors I look for when vetting my sources.
So, let’s think of responsible tourism as a journey to minimize the negative impacts of the travel industry.
I am NOT calling the industry the enemy, here – after all, I am a part of it. In fact, travel and tourism are some leading ways we are changing the world for the better. And, though your travels, you can, too.
What Exactly is Responsible Tourism?
Basically, as succinctly defined by roamingtheamericas.com. Responsible Tourism is a “mindset of traveling to learn and share experiences across cultures, while seeking to minimize our negative impact on the local culture, economy and environment.”
Here are Four Tips to Supporting a Local Culture – Responsibly- On Your Next Travel Journey
Tip #1: Rather than attend a show put on for large groups, attend a local festival or other celebration instead.
I have talked about my experiences at the Palio in Siena. It is a yearly celebration not put on for tourists (although thousands attend), but rather a tradition held since the Middle Ages, and you, Dear Outsider, are merely a spectator.
Other examples include a Holy Week or other religious day in Spain or a Latin American country, the Flower Festival in Medellin, or any sagra in Italy. Look for things to do with the locals that share their traditions for greatest learning.
After all, wouldn’t your vacation feel more authentic this way rather than attending a reenactment show?
Tip #2: Read up before you go.
Guidebooks are so handy when it comes to preparing for your travel. Yes, I said it- guidebooks are useful. They can encapsulate the history of the destination. Knowing some basic history and current events will add layers of context to the things you will encounter and deepen your takeaways from the journey.
Guidebooks can also clue you in beforehand to local customs and practices so you are not making those awkward faux pas once you are there. Offending a local by not being courteous enough to know how they interact with others is off-putting and can damage the connection you could have had.
Tip #3: That said, learn some of the language (or if in a common language, the idioms) of the place you are visiting.
Nothing creates greater connection than a shared language. Now, I do fumble my way around in foreign tongues all the time. But if I at least try by knowing basic greetings and phrases, I am more likely to open up a dialogue – even if it is then through a translator.
If you like to go in depth with language learning, check out Fluent Forever. If you want to keep it simple, try Duolingo or Memrise.
Tip #4: Dress appropriately.
This should go without saying- the more local you dress, the less you’ll stand out. Don’t be a target or establish yourself as only an observer. Respect local dress observances, such as covering your head in mosques or your knees and shoulders in a church. Show an effort to support the destination by purchasing a locally-made wrap or other wearable handicraft- and take home a memory.
Have you tried any of these tips? What would you add to the list? Add your comments below- I’d love to know!
Other posts in the “Travel for Good” blog post series are:
- Insanely Stylish Sustainable Hotels – Boutique Travel Agency Enlightened Journeys Travel
- Luxury Travel Advisor Theresa Jackson Named Ambassador of Change
At Enlightened Journeys Travel, it is my mission to help you #TravelforGood – good for you through handcrafted itineraries for immersive journeys of a lifetime in comfortable world travel, and good for the destinations you visit.
If you’d like to have more ease in your travel planning, I’d love to help!
You can stay informed and inspired in planning your travel in 2018 by reading more of my blogs. You can also follow me on Facebook. Twitter @enlitndjrntrvl, and Instagram @enlightenedjourneystravel. Sign up to receive the blogs and a newsletter filled with more insights and offers so you don’t miss a thing.