The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many of us to reconsider our usual routines, and it has particularly forced the tourism industry to reassess its practices. The idea of responsible tourism has been around for some time, however now more than ever it is vital that we embrace it fully, in order to recover from the crisis caused by the pandemic. It is up to us all to adapt how we travel. Here are some top tips on how to be a responsible tourist, to make your trip the best possible experience for yourself, the people you meet and the places you visit.
1. Plan and research
This is more than just ensuring you have the correct travel documents. You should research your destination; local customs, traditions, gastronomy, social conditions etc. Look up the local language and learn a few words. This will help you to better understand the people and the place, and will also get you excited for your upcoming trip! You will be able to connect with the destination and its community in a much more meaningful way.
2. Be polite
Honour your hosts. Treat people you meet with respect and be polite to all staff and service providers at tourism facilities. Try to abide by any local customs you have learned about so as not to cause anyone offence, and if you take photos of people that you plan to upload on social media, ask their permission so as not to invade their privacy.
3. Care for the Environment
Appreciate your surroundings and look after them! A key principle of being a responsible tourist is leaving things as lovely as they were when you found them, so that other people and future generations can continue to enjoy them. Respect the natural resources and their inhabitants (both human and animal!), and follow any rules that are in place for their protection. Also be careful to avoid animal attractions that may involve animal cruelty.
4. Reduce waste
Try to minimise waste, for example, avoid single-use plastic when possible and don’t use excessive amounts of water & energy. Consider your transport options and if walking isn’t appropriate, try to use transport which limits carbon emissions. A cycling tour or public transport are often great ways to get around.
5. Go local
Buying local products and services is a perfect way to support local entrepreneurship and development in your destination. Try to support businesses that embrace diversity and equality, and be respectful by paying a fair price. Avoid buying excessive amounts of any products, as this can destabilize local economies. Try to slow down, visit lesser known areas and take the time to enjoy them, who knows what beauties you might discover!
6. Respect the heritage
Many cultural tourist attractions have a huge historical importance for the destination and their community. It is essential to respect this and always abide by rules that are in place to preserve these heritage sites. Help to promote the sustainability of the destination’s buildings and monuments for many years to come so that others may enjoy it.
7. Support innovative technology
Is your destination trialling any new low carbon technologies? Perhaps an electric shuttle bus or a new carbon-neutral cultural centre has just opened? Try to find out and support these ventures where possible, in order to encourage more similar projects in the future.
8. Share good practices
Once back home, tell people about your trip! Exchange experiences and good practices, share your sustainable actions with your friends and advocate for any sustainable businesses or non-profit and community projects you may have learnt about whilst away. Help future travellers by providing honest reviews and promoting your travel experiences, and then start researching for your next trip…!