9 Travel Tips for Responsible Tourism
“Responsible tourism” is “tourism that maximizes the benefits to local communities, minimizes negative social or environmental impacts, and helps local people conserve fragile cultures, habitats, and species,” according to The International Ecotourism Society, TIES, of which MIR is a member. In 2015, TIES updated its definition of ecotourism to “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves interpretation and education.”
UNESCO defines responsible tourism as “tourism that respects both local people and the traveller, cultural heritage and the environment.”
Whatever definition is used, we’re committed to ensuring that our trips are as responsible as possible. Whenever possible, we work with our overseas partners to buy local, hire local and frequent locally-owned hotels and restaurants. When we can, we incorporate a rail segment to minimize driving, and most of our trips include some touring on foot.
- Before you leave home, unplug your electrical appliances (except for your fridge!) and electronics. They use power while you are gone.
- Reduce water consumption at your hotel by keeping your towel an extra day before having it washed. Some hotels have a program that allows you to hang up your used towel to signal that you want to keep it, or to toss it on the floor if you want it washed.
- Turn off your hotel lights and adjust your thermostat as you leave for a day of sightseeing.
- Consider buying and using a Steripen, a handheld UV water purification device that allows you to sterilize water simply by stirring it. Originally invented for hikers, this handy little gadget is great for sterilizing the tap water in your hotel room. Just fill up your reusable bottle, stir, and drink. It even kills viruses and protozoa.
- If you are issued or buy bottled water, try to drink all the water in the bottle before getting another. Make it your goal not to waste drinking water if you can help it.
- Bring any empty plastic water bottles back to your hotel and turn them in at the desk, asking if there is a recycling program. The more foreign travelers there are who ask for recycling, the more likely it is that hotels will eventually provide it.
- Pack light! It’s easier on you and easier on the atmosphere: the less weight an airliner carries, the less fuel it consumes.
- Bring a folding cloth bag in your purse or daypack for souvenirs.
- Respect each country’s traditions, including its clothing requirements (if any). Learning a few words in the language of your destination (“please” and “thank you” make a good start) can affect your whole experience.
We have put together a resource on Responsible Tourism on Pinterest. Follow along and pin away!
(Top photo: A MIR client chats with a local man in Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Lindsay Fincher)
PUBLISHED: April 18, 2016