Travel and tourism can both benefit and damage the environment and our wildlife as well as local economies, social structure and the culture of communities in any given country. Experience teaches us that in the long term the uncontrolled activity of mass tourism, hotel building, poorly organised tours and often poaching, can bring lots of money into a country but can also be detrimental to the country’s development. Sustainable travel embodies the travel trade’s principles of using tourism to benefit local communities, the environment and can bolster the survival of culture, heritage and our much-loved wildlife.
Providing authentic experiences, promoting responsible travel and developing worldwide relationships are all part of our vision for sustainable tourism. On Earth Day today, we thought we would share some ways you can help local communities and tourism when you travel.
One of the best ways to get the most out of your holiday to learn a little bit about the local cultures, religion and the customs of the places you’re visiting. These are small gestures but go a long way with the locals when you communicate with them.
Support Local Markets
Shopping at local markets is always an excellent way of supporting local craftspeople and injecting money directly into local communities.
Eat Like a Local
Make a point of finding small, authentic local restaurants, bars and cafés when travelling. It is always good to support local business owners by eating and drinking at their establishments.
Many of you will want to give gifts to children when visiting Africa, Latin America and India and they love fruit, sweets, crayons pencils and colouring books. However, you might choose to make donations to local schools or conservation and charitable organisations which can be better than giving money directly to children begging on the streets.
Don’t Smile for the Camera
When you take pictures of people and events (particularly religious processions) you should ask permission first. It’s tempting to quickly press the button thinking no-one will notice or mind, but you might unintentionally be offending a particular cultural belief.
Learn The Lingo
Learning a little bit of the local language is priceless. if you can learn enough just to say hello, please and thank you, it is always well received and you’ll be rewarded with warm appreciation and a friendly smile!
Stick to paths and walkways on treks in the jungle, national parks, on a mountain, or at archaeological sites. This helps preserve wildlife and avoids erosion of the landscape, as well as keeping you safe.
Waste Not Want Not
There are plenty of small ways to contribute to the environment whilst you’re on holiday and they don’t take much effort! You can save water by taking showers instead of baths or use a refillable water bottle to reduce plastic waste and save you money. It’s always tempting to leave the air-conditioning or heating on in your hotel room while you’re out during the day, but if you can avoid this at all then this will significantly reduce your energy use.
What Will You Make a Point of Doing When We Can Travel Again?