Responsible tourism, sustainable tourism, ecotourism… These are concepts that I’m sure you’ve heard of but perhaps you haven’t delved into. But don’t worry, in some of your trips you will have already been a responsible tourist. And it is not difficult.
Responsible tourism seeks to minimize the negative impacts on the ecosystem, economy, society and culture of the place where the tourist activity takes place, not only from the traveler’s point of view but also taking into account the businesses or institutions involved in the supply and promotion of tourist services. In other words, both a tourist and a hotel or a City Council can carry out responsible tourism practices. Practices that we provide in these ten tips with which we do not doubt that you are going to be a responsible tourist.
How to be a Responsible Tourist?
More and more tourists worldwide are looking for trips that, in addition to satisfying their needs, are more respectful of the environment, the local culture and the quality of life of the host communities.
Almost everyone, if you ask them, will tell you that when they travel they want to be more environmentally friendly. But very few will know how to make their travel more sustainable and fewer will be willing to pay extra to make sure they use more sustainable transport or choose environmentally friendly accommodation.
Tourism will finally be sustainable if tourists start demanding it to be sustainable and act much more responsibly when they travel.
That is why I decided to write this article where I analyze how we, tourists, can be more responsible travelers, helping to make our impact as small as possible during our travels.
To contribute to a more sustainable development, every tourist must be aware of the impact they generate and reduce as much as possible the environmental footprint they cause when they visit the territory.
Start with yourself
Yes, being a responsible tourist implies that you have your trip well organized, planned well in advance and with everything you need to avoid «impacts», never better said, in your expectations or in your pocket. If you book your transportation and accommodation in advance, you can get them at advantageous prices for the dates you were considering and with the quality you expected. Another way to be responsible with yourself is to take out travel insurance to cover certain expenses in case of problems or unforeseen events that affect your trip.
Choose the right transportation
Consider the means of transportation to get to your destination and also those that you will use to move around during your stay. Opt for energy-efficient transportation that saves energy or with reduced or zero polluting emissions (electric). Try to use public transport, and, when feasible, move around by bicycle or walking.
Stop at sustainable accommodations
These are establishments or apartments that are responsible with the environment depending on their location, the materials with which they are built or the type and use of energy. Staying in a rural house that works with solar energy, booking a hotel that reduces water consumption or staying in a bioclimatic cabin (insulating walls with natural or recycled elements) are ways to contribute to responsible tourism.
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Don’t waste energy
When we stay in a hotel or rent an apartment, we tend not to worry about the cost of water or electricity with the excuse that we have already paid for everything. Who has not ever left the card in the room and the air conditioning has been running for hours? In addition to the business accounts, with this waste of energy we are harming the territory to which we have traveled and the planet in general.
Respect the nature of the area
Try not to degrade the ecosystem of the area you are visiting, the natural spaces (going beyond the boundaries, littering…), the animals and the plants. You may be surprised to know that some people take plants, shells or corals to take home as souvenirs. If you want to visit a zoo, look for centers that have rescued animals from mistreatment to begin the process of reintegration into nature. When it comes to eating, be aware of the closed seasons for certain seafood or game, as there are places that do not respect them in order to make a profit.
Minimize waste generation
It is true that when we are traveling, we find it difficult to carry items that we can do without and we resort to «use and throw away». To avoid generating extra waste, it is good that, as in our daily lives, we use reusable bags or bottles and avoid plastic tableware and cutlery. In addition, look at how recycling is done in the city or in your own accommodation so that each waste is in the container that corresponds to it.
Respect the environment and local culture
We must reduce our impact on local ecosystems and local culture.
Follow the basic principles:
- Reduce the use of certain scarce resources (such as water and energy).
- Reuse certain materials to give them a second life.
- Recycle those that cannot be reused
- Manage waste with a high environmental impact (such as plastic or technological elements) well.
- Do not buy products made from plants and animals, especially if they are in danger of extinction (coral, ivory, etc.).
- Choose tourism suppliers that promote decent and fair labor conditions and respect workers’ rights.
In natural resources such as nature reserves, national parks and other protected areas.
- Be well informed on how to reduce the environmental impact you generate during your visit.
- Be well oriented to avoid getting lost
- Follow marked trails
- Do not feed wildlife
- Respect the indications given by the guards or curators of the natural area.
- Do not take anything from archeological sites or other historical and artistic resources.
- Do not hunt animals or take plants or vegetation from the area.
- Take a container with you to store the garbage you generate during your visit.
- Use sunscreen and mosquito repellents that are ecological or environmentally friendly.
- Do not make noise to avoid disturbing the animals so you can see them better.
- Contribute to the conservation, protection and regeneration of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the destination.