Let's work together towards a healthier planet
Travel can be a wonderful way to experience new cultures, see amazing sights, and create priceless memories. At the same time, it is important to be mindful of the impact that our travels can have on the environment and the communities we visit.
By following a few simple tips and suggestions, we can all be more responsible tourists and help to ensure that our travels have a positive impact on the world.
We have spent many years dedicated to responsible tourism, trying to understand how to promote travel experiences that add value to destinations: by helping to protect nature and heritage, while creating opportunities for local communities. We have gathered a lot of insight, and want to share them with you – the tourist – the responsible traveler.
What is a Responsible Tourist?
The term responsible tourism is used in a lot of forms from ‘eco-tourism’ to ‘sustainable tourism’ and ‘conscious tourism’. They all have their specific nuances, but in essence, responsible tourism.
Find out as much as possible. The more you know about a place you’re visiting before arriving, the more that it will come alive during your trip. Look into the site’s history, culture, natural environment, customs, stories, and advisory notices using books, the internet, and the experiences of other travelers (e.g. TripAdvisor).
Pack light and for a purpose. It is tempting to pack everything you think you might need to, but remember to be smart about your necessities. Packaging like the plastic wrapping of your new toothbrush uses up space in your bag and can create excess waste for the destination to deal with. ‘Pack for a Purpose’ also provides guidance on how to pack supplies needed by community projects, in your holiday destination.
Continue reading on for other tips related to responsible tourism.
- Be sure to select the correct tours and travel agency to book your itinerary. Check that their mission is in sustainability to include their partners like guides, accommodation, activities, etc. At Back to the Source Tours, we make sure to provide absolute sustainability options every where possible. We are also a register tour company.
- Before traveling, check on the local customs and traditions of the places to visit like festivals, anniversaries, holidays, events, etc, so you can share, participate, and be part of the community.
- Research weather patterns during the dates you want to travel. We don’t want you to be disappointed.
- Listen to hit songs in that country so that when you are out with friends you can also jam and dance the night away to familiar music. There are many playlists on YouTube, Spotify, etc. Here’s a YouTube search for you.
- Learn a few words in the local language, and with it you can establish meaningful connections with the local community. Surely the locals will appreciate that you know a bit of their language. We have cheatsheets for Swahili and Luganda.
Buy products that are not made from plants or animals that are in danger of extinction.
Choose group outings that allow for better use of resources, producing savings in money, fuel, and carbon footprint.
Look for the most efficient and cleaner option of transportation.
Reduce, reuse and recycle solid waste during your trip. Bring your own water bottle to fill, avoid buying products that have unnecessary packaging and containers, and do not accept plastic bags when purchasing goods.
- Do not remove natural resources, such as stones, fossils, shells, plants, flowers or others from their original environment.
- Contribute to the maintenance of the infrastructure and equipment in the protected area by paying the solicited price of entrance and properly using the facilities and infrastructure.
Minimize negative impacts on the economy, environment and society
- Generate economic benefits for local people and enhance the well-being of host communities. This improves working conditions and access to the industry
- Involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life changes
- Makes positive contributions to the conservation efforts of that area including natural resources, social engagement, and cultural heritage.
- Provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural and environmental issues;
- Promotes more service providers to develop accessibility to people with disabilities and the disadvantaged.
- Zero tolerance for using one-use plastics.
- Avoid showing affection in public as it is considered quite offensive – sorry, no kissing!
- Don’t point or gesture with your feet or put your feet up on furniture. Avoid touching someone on the head.
- When using a toothpick, use one hand to cover your mouth. It’s offensive for a housekeeper to wash women’s underwear.
- We recommend you wash your underwear as you shower. It is offensive in several regions.
- Absolutely do not feed wildlife on the side of the roads or anywhere for that matter.
- Buy locally-made crafts only. Ask questions and look at labels. Local food is more likely to be fresh, rather than having been kept in the freezer (using electricity) for long periods of time.
- That fresh fish, chicken, etc. may have been caught by someone locally, who benefits from you buying it.
- Spread your money around by using a number of different locally run shops and restaurants. Try not to spend all your money on one business.
- Turning off lights and air conditioning when you are not in your room.
- Re-using your towel rather than getting it replaced after every wash.
- Consider not getting your bedsheets washed every day.
- Disposing of your waste in an appropriate way – and not leaving it for someone to pick up, or an animal to eat.
There are certain activities that are widely recognised as having a detrimental impact on animal welfare, and in some cases, may present a high risk to visitor and staff safety. We absolutely discourage visiting or contributing to facilities that allow humans to interact with wildlife for the sole purpose of making money, tourism etc.
We completely avoid these activities, that have been classified as ‘unacceptable’.
Beware of such programs that claim they are conservation establishments.