A rose is a rose by any other name, so whether you call it responsible travel, ecotourism or green travel it all amounts to the same thing. Ethical travel is the ethos of travelling where you “take only pictures and leave only footprints”. But what does this really mean.
Well, to us it means that when we travel we should do so in such a manner that reduces or minimizes the detrimental effects of the travel industry on a place. Be it social, economic or environmental with the idea being to promote travel that makes a positive impact on local communities, wildlife, and the environment.
We now know that over the years tourism has resulted in many adverse effects for some countries and communities like, destroying natural habitats, exploitation of wildlife, local populations have become displaced to make way for ‘tourist attracations’ or hotels, local businesses being priced out in favour on the tourist ‘dollar’ etc. Ethical tourism is designed to assist with enhancing a regions natural way of being and reducing such negative impact.
With the world as we all know shrinking in size and travel opportunities becoming a little easier to access, now is the time for us all to make whatever difference we can in our own small way so that so many of the places we visit will still be available for our future generations to see, in the same or as close to the same conditions that we saw them in.
So ethical travel is not just about choosing a ‘green hotel’ or not drinking water from a plastic bottle, it is so much more than that and quite simple to achieve. Here are some tips to get you started:
DID YOU KNOW:
The United Nations has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development!
- Fly Less, Travel More
We all know that carbon emissions and fossil fuels are bad for the environment, so when you book your ticket to some far off place, make it worth your while. Try staying for a longer period so you can maximise your time there and minimise your flying. Lay overs are a great way to see other places without having to fly back there on another trip for example.
Research your destination ahead of time, know what it is you want to do and see. Not only will this enrich your experience as well as contextualise it, it gives you the opportunity to understand the history. Choose only the sights that really appeal to you and work for your location and time etc. Not only does this give you more time to experience local life but it reduces the crush of people on a sight which may not really have been for you in the first place.
- BUY LOCAL
Local artisans are the preservers of history. The trinkets or products they make offer a link into a country’s culture and past. Buying directly from them helps keep this alive. Actively seek these local craftsmen out.
- HONOR LOCAL TRADITIONS
Across the world people have different cultures and traditions, respect these so as not to offend the people whose home you are a guest in. For example, in some places in Europe topless bathing is acceptable, not something to gawk at but in other cultures women do not even show their arms. In Turkey for instance a visit to the Blue Mosque is a “must” but women should cover their heads if they wish to do so.
- EAT LOCAL
Try and eat what and where the locals eat. Make responsible food choices by enjoying the food and fruit of the region, which would typically be grown or made there. No imports which means less carbon emissions etc. support local markets, eat organic, reduce red meat all of which promote sustainability.
- THE THREE R’s
Take your own refillable water bottle with you. Return maps and brochures when you’re done with them if they’re still in good condition. DO NOT LITTER, use the recycling bins if available. Do not waste, water electricity even soap, use the same bar in your shower and your handbasin until you need another. Basically, reduce/reuse/recycle.