Have you ever had a bad house guest visit you? Maybe it wasn’t even intentional, but they left a mess after departing and disrupted your social peace during their vacation and you couldn’t wait for them to leave. You have social “rules” for your house that you didn’t even fully recognize until they are broken by a guest.
Even if you think of yourself as a responsible traveler, you should consciously evaluate the impact you are leaving from your travels. Responsible tourism can be described simply as purposefully traveling with a focus on the sustainability and long-term positive impact on the communities you visit so that they can continue to thrive.
What can you do to be a responsible traveler?
Minimize your negative impact on the location, whether that is environmental, social, or economic. As the old saying goes, “Leave it better than you found it”.
Respect the local culture and people of the country you are traveling to in your actions and language.
Involve locals in any decision making that impacts their community or land
Purchase from local vendors rather than international corporations
Understand and respect local customs and how you fit in with them
Actively work to reduce your environmental footprint
Make positive contributions through your actions and work during your stay
Develop authentic and positive relationships with locals and lean into empathy
Do not interfere with wildlife or participate in unethical animal experiences aimed at tourists
Why should I care about responsible tourism?
Simply put, the locals of the destination you are traveling to will continue to live here after you leave. Without responsible tourism, tourism in any form is not sustainable. The locals take pride in their home, and with responsible tourism they will be glad to share their culture, history, and environment with others for years to come.
Sadly, many coastal cities have experienced the impact of heavy tourism that has left behind heavy pollution in water and on land, economic challenges, and changing landscapes. These issues can take exponentially longer to correct even with concerted efforts.
At OCW we can help you be a responsible traveler on your next adventure and leave a positive impact on the people and country that you visit.