Before Your Next Trip...
Bring sustainable tourism to your next overseas holiday. Check out the online sources below for a great practical guide to travelling responsibly.
The Best of Responsible Travel Online
In this part of our online resource for responsible travel we have put together links to some of the best sites that provide information about responsible travel and sustainable tourism. They are mostly well recognised organisations, and they are all committed in their endeavour to bring about change in the tourism industry through promoting good practice amongst tour operators, tourists and others involved in the industry.
We hope you find it useful – please let us know about your experience using our onine Responsible Travel Resource. We love getting feedback and it helps us to provide a better, more useful service.
Should I Care About Responsible Travel?
A good introductory piece by the Huffington Post exploring what responsible travel is, and its importance and relevance toanyone on the move. It provides the following definition: “Being socially and culturally aware when you travel (ie. use more common sense people!), understanding your affect on the places you visit and trying to make that affect a positive one.” The author suggests people over complicate responsible tourism when in fact it is a simple concept and there are many easy ways that people can practice it on their next trip.
Responsible Travel was the pioneering company in this field and it’s still going strong after 15 years. It sponsors the annual, high-profile World Responsible Tourism awards, which are based on a simple principle: ‘all types of tourism, from niche to mainstream, can and should be organised in a way that preserves, respects and benefits destinations and local people’. This link offers as good and convincing a paean to responsible travel as you’ll find on the web. Also check out www.responsibletravel.com/copy/tips-for-responsible-travel for some useful tips.
From our own Alan Murphy, who has travelled in and written extensively on Africa, comes a blog post titled ‘Responsible Safari Travel – Is Conservation my Business too?’ that offers sound advice on choosing a safari option that takes ‘a responsible attitude into the bush’. Animal welfare was at the top of Al’s list of considerations when he wrote the post, but another prominent theme, unsurprisingly, is supporting local communities.
Recommended Tour Operators
Check out the frequently updated RoundTrip Roster on Instagram for more recommended tour operators.
World Expeditions, which has been organising trekking and adventure travel for small groups for the past 40 years, publishes an online, 32-page Responsible Travel Guidebook. On page 4 you’ll find the ‘Credo of the Peaceful Traveller’, which captures the organisation’s ideal of the travel industry as an industry of peace, and travellers as ambassadors of peace. The rest of the booklet gives you an insight into what a big player in the travel industry thinks are the responsible travel priorities for all companies in the field, and those who use them: namely, environmental protection, looking after communities in need, opposing animal cruelty, protecting children, cultural preservation and sustainable development.
Long-term trip operator Expert Africa, which specialises in travel in the east and south of the continent, has outlined its own Africa-specific practices as well as recommendations for travellers. The former, under the heading ‘How we try to make our trips more responsible’, makes useful reading because it gives you an idea of what to keep in mind (i.e. what questions to ask) before booking a tour or using a holiday company – from the commonsense ‘matching expectations to the local reality’ to the obvious in principle but not always done in practice ‘We try to ensure that at least one member of our team has visited every place that we send our travellers’. You’ll find the traveller tips under the heading ‘How our travellers can help’.
Justice Tourism Foundation
Justice Tourism Foundation (JTF) works closely with local communities in Uganda to create and manage sustainable and empowering development initiatives, with JTF then placing volunteers in suitable programs to help further these initiatives. The programs are designed to benefit the local community, while offering participants the chance to engage in authentic, immersive experiences – connecting socially conscious travellers with innovative volunteer programs, and developing the best in human potential through shared learning, participatory philanthropy and team work.
Tips on Travelling Responsibly
Nomad Is Beautiful
The pair of full-time travellers behind the Nomad Is Beautiful website have tapped fellow on-the-road bloggers for responsible travel tips, with some thought-provoking results. Among the more-straightforward suggestions to stay/eat at locally owned businesses, carry your own steel water bottle, refuse plastic bags when shopping, and do volunteer work where possible, you’ll find the story of one person’s decision to sweep away their carbon footprint by turning a big yellow van into a mobile home that runs on biofuel. Another contributor advocates setting aside part of your luggage allowance for essential supplies needed by community projects, the creative brainchild of the Pack for a Purpose initiative (www.packforapurpose.org).
Global Code of Ethics for Tourism
Did you know that there’s a Global Code of Ethics for Tourism? The 10-principle code was developed in 1999 by the UN-governed World Tourism Organization to get everyone involved in the industry – from governments and travel agents through to travellers – thinking about how to maximise the benefits of tourism while minimising its negative impacts. The code’s principles have now been distilled into the booklet Tips for a Responsible Traveller, which zeroes in on the fundamentals: honour your hosts, support the local economy, protect the planet, and be a respectful and informed traveller. It’s responsible travel in a nutshell.
Ethical Traveler has also published a summary of how to be just like it: an ethical traveller. Titled Thirteen Tips for the Accidental Ambassador, it’s written in a way that emphasises the ‘person-to-person aspects of travel’. These include worthwhile reminders such as ‘Learn to listen’ and ‘Curb your anger, and cultivate your sense of humour’. (Though the tip borrowed from Kurt Vonnegut Jr concerning ‘dancing lessons from God’, while well intentioned, may strike some as being a touch flaky.)
This is a starting list of a dozen RT principles that have been put together by the small-group travel company Intrepid, and which you can put into practice right away. They range from supporting local businesses to giving money to well-credentialled community initiatives rather than just anyone on the street, and asking first before photographing or videoing an individual. Intrepid’s off-the-beaten-track arm, Peregrine, has a webpage on the same theme (www.peregrineadventures.com/responsible-travel), with a few more tips under the heading ‘Play your part as a responsible traveller’.
Sustainable travel in Africa – a blueprint
This excellent article looks at sustainable tourism in Botswana, and really suggests that it’s highly successful model incorporating tourism, conservation and local communities could be a blueprint for other African safari countries. “As many as 60 per cent of villagers who reside in or alongside wilderness areas where lodges operate are employed, directly or indirectly, by tourism. The industry adds 11.6 per cent to the country’s GDP and creates around 75,500 jobs out of a population of just over two million (in 2016). Tourism is, therefore, hugely important.”
This blog post by Lonely Planet author Celeste Brash offers a shortlist of ethical and environmentally sound practices. Apart from simple tips on ‘making travel better for everyone’, the post mentions how the non-profit group Ethical Traveler does an annual ranking of tourist destinations based on their ‘environmental protection standards, social welfare and human rights record’ (animal welfare has now been added to those criteria). Ignore the links provided, which are to the 2014 and 2013 rankings, and instead use this link to reach the most-recent listing and the accompanying report.