If traveling has become a passion and an advocacy, it is totally understandable if you will make it your New Year’s resolution to travel responsibly. You must have been appalled at how so many pristine and exotic destinations have been transformed by tourism and commercialism. If you feel you had enough of mass tourism, maybe it is time to make responsible travel your resolution for 2015. This is definitely something you’ll have an easier time keeping.
What is responsible tourism?
Those who advocate it believe it is a better way to see and experience the world when they travel. It is a way of getting a more genuine, but selfless experience as the benefits are shared with the locals and the environment. It is all about respecting nature and people, rather than exploiting them through massive tourism and commercialization.
Unknown to regular tourists, the concept can be applied to any kind of tourism, holiday or to any destination. In its simplest and most fundamental meaning, it is just about caring for the local communities and their culture and natural environment.
How can you be a responsible traveler?
If you are a regular globetrotter regardless of reason or purpose, Katrina Lobley suggests “New Year’s Resolutions for the Responsible Traveller” that will help exotic, local destinations free from the massive impact of tourism and commercialization. The article is posted in Herald Sun – Travel Advice.
- Pedal power: “Instead of hiring a car or cab and adding to emissions, explore a new city with pedal power…”
The world is full of destinations that offer biking opportunities. Rent a bike or hire a trishaw when you are in Macau or Singapore or its equivalent (trike or trisikad in the Philippines). It will not only prevent adding more carbon to emissions, it will also benefit the locals while you enjoy a slow, unhurried journey.
- Room with a clue: “Most hotels these days ask guests to rehang and reuse towels to help reduce water and power consumption…”
It is really nothing too dramatic since you do the same at home, where you do the laundry yourself. The sustainable act, however, has significant impact in travel when you consider the volume of water and manpower saved in the process when done by a significant number of travelers.
- Trash talk: “The idea behind Lisa Vitaris’s litter collection initiative, 10 Pieces, is simple. “Every traveller can make a difference by picking up 10 pieces of litter,” says the Sydney social entrepreneur….”
The impact can be dramatic considering the millions of travelers roaming the world the entire year. If you decide to do this, all you need to do is to stash in your bag a pair of gloves and sanitizer.
- Animal attraction: “… Among the ways travellers can aid orang-utan conservation are donations to legitimate rescue centres and organisations safeguarding rainforest habitat. …”
The extinction of much wildlife is primarily caused by the destruction of their habitats; tourism can do that to ecosystems even without intending to. You can support animal projects, find out how when you travel. Visit zoos, sanctuaries and reservations.
- Shop smart: Support local artisans and traditional craftsmanship by choosing souvenirs wisely.
Before your journey, find out about special groups and organizations that support worthy causes and advocacies. Find out too how you can support their cause. It can be by buying artisan products, farmers’ produce or by donating a small amount.
- Eat for a cause: Dine out and help out at the same time. Friends-International has helped to establish a handful of South-East Asian training restaurants that offer young people an alternative to life on the streets.
You will have to eat and spend for your food anyway; why not eat in places that have worthy causes so your dollars go a long way.
- Travel like a local: Embrace public transport wherever you are – it’s cheaper than alternatives and is often a fun way to meet locals.
Going around like a local is not only interesting, cheaper, get you to meet with locals, and support local economy. It is also an authentic experience you’ll be happy to talk about once you get home.
- Child-safe tourism: “Seek alternatives to giving them money,” … pointing out that children who live and work on the streets are vulnerable to adult exploitation
There are many ways to help children. Giving them money is not viable. Giving donations to legitimate organizations that genuinely advocate children’s protection and welfare is a more sustainable action.
- Marks for progress: The US-based Ethical Traveller organisation … list … the world’s 10 top ethical destinations for 2015 … Chile, Uruguay, Dominica, Lithuania, Mauritius, Cabo Verde and Palau – and … star performers … l in the South Pacific: Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.
The organization offers a list of ethical places to visit. Traveling to these places can help them boost their economy to further sustain their efforts toward fostering the welfare of children, animals, the local culture and the environment.
- Click: it’s offset: Qantas’s offset calculator indicates it costs $7.56 to offset a flight from Sydney to Hong Kong. That contribution goes towards carbon-offset projects…
The fact is, despite best efforts, there are human activities that would leave a very heavy carbon print such as flying by plane. This is why it is good to go low on carbon footprint once you get to your destination…walk or bike. In addition, you can also offset your carbon print by donating money to projects that protect forests or other sustainable practices.
There is no question that travel is impacting the planet negatively and to great extent, but it is one human activity that humans are not about to give up. At the very least, responsible travel can lessen that impact. If you can adhere to this New Year’s resolution, then you are helping secure the future of the human society and their culture, the environment and travel.