As supporters of the World Travel Market – World Responsible Tourism Day 2013, we feel it is our responsibility to promote responsible travel, and do ‘our bit’ to make sure our holidays, small group escorted tours, and adventure trips are both enjoyable for our clients and beneficial to the local economies in the countries we visit.
Responsible Tourism should no longer be a choice, but an integral part of every trip we book, and if we want to continue travelling the world, swimming in the Great Barrier Reef, trekking in Macchu Picchu and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, we need to tread lightly on our great planet and start giving back to the places we visit, before the damage is irreparable.
There are many things one can do to become a responsible traveller, and while some will say the most responsible form of responsible tourism is to not travel at all, I firmly believe that we can all travel the world, and do so in an eco-friendly manner, if we do our homework and take a moment to think before, during and after our trip abroad.
How to become a responsible traveller – Before leaving home
- One of the most beneficial things you can do when booking your flight is offsetting the carbon emissions with a company like Climate Care. It doesn’t cost the world, in fact, a return flight from London to Cape Town will cost you around £20, but it might just go towards saving it!
- Pack Light. Now I tread carefully here, as I am not very good at doing this myself. However, in the past 2 years I have significantly reduced the amount of clothes, shoes and toiletries I pack, and a lighter suitcase means a lighter plane = lower carbon emissions. It’s worth a try…
- If you are going self-catering, pack a biodegradable shopping bag in your suitcase. It doesn’t take much room, its perfect for carrying your groceries back the apartment, and you won’t end up will a million single use carrier bags that will end up straight in the bin.
- If you are heading to the Great Barrier Reef, make sure you pack non-toxic sun lotions etc. specifically designed for use underwater and around coral.
Becoming a Responsible Traveller – While You are Away
- When visiting National Parks and UNESCO sites, stay within the marked areas and follow the regulations – they are there for a reason, and some of these protected areas are extremely fragile.
- In the hotel/accommodation, simple things like turning off the air-con and keeping the windows closed when it’s on can save huge amounts of energy, and if you don’t wash your towels/sheets everyday at home, why do so on holiday? It all adds up to wasted energy and copious amounts of detergent flushed into the ocean.
- Haggling can be good fun and a great way to get a bargain souvenir, but try to give a fair price for what you have purchased; most street sellers are genuine and often desperate to feed their families. However, avoid having your photo taken with wild animals/reptiles, and don’t buy any souvenirs made from protected or endangered species – they are often illegal to import and will only encourage those who sell them to look for more.
Continue to Promote and Support Responsible Travel once you get Home
Responsible tourism is still a work in progress, but by sharing your stories and telling your friends and family how you incorporated sustainability into your trip, you may just inspire them to do the same!
Please share with us your tips on responsible travel – together we can make a difference!