Respectful travellers can be hard to come by these days. Respecting the places we visit and the people we meet while visiting their countries shouldn’t be too much to ask for. Regretfully, those who diminish these values (or simply could not care less) are rapidly increasing in numbers. Not only could such people get so more out of their travel experience, but they could actually also leave something of impact behind. Don’t we all prefer gifts that give back?
While it is generally accepted that tourism generates jobs and boosts a country or city’s economy, it isn’t always a positive ordeal for the locals in question. Overcrowding, for example, is actually a real problem.
With travel becoming more accessible than ever before, it should come as no surprise that destination management has become increasingly important as well. In fact, some of the world’s most popular destinations have put harsh initiatives in place, hoping to reduce visitor numbers. The issues, however, are not limited to overcrowding nor do they only affect people.
How can I be a respectful traveller?
Luckily, there are plenty of things that we can do ourselves to help.
Consider a visit outside of peak season. Peak season often forms a great burden on the physical and social resources of a destination. When travelling during the off-peak season, locals will also be more receptive to unique requests. Or, how about going on a volunteer holiday?
Support local restaurants and businesses. This includes taking tours with local guides. Also consider where you stay, since your contribution to the economy can be that much more valuable.
Many hotels offer green initiatives. Yet most visitors barely bother to take part. Do as you would at home and ask yourself if you really do need a clean towel and fresh bedsheets every single day. Plus, have you ever thought about limiting your waste, such as plastic usage?
Pay national park entrance fees. Some visitors are unaware that entry fees support the conservation of national parks. Trying to get in free or on a discount isn’t the way to help.
Uninformed travellers who are not aware of local customs can offend natives as well as other tourists. For example, be aware of the tipping culture in a country and whether or not it is commonly acceptable. Respecting people’s privacy is also key.
Keep in mind who you are travelling with: are both you and your travel buddy up to standards?
Routinely, for the sake of taking a photo or selfie, travellers will turn their backs on an attraction, monument, or point of interest. Some will even climb onto statues, ledges or railings. Such behaviour may be illegal and, at the least, will not always be appreciated. But taking selfies may be the least of your worries. Laws are different than at home and you should always be in the loop of local do’s and don’ts.
Be a Respectful Traveller for Animals, too!
Most Safari parks are a good example of how to view animals in the wild in an ethical manner.
Should you visit a circus, make sure it’s an animal-free one.
Avoid zoos where animals are contained in cages or enclosures.
Do not purchase illegal wildlife trade. This only stimulates, for example, the poaching of elephants for ivory and tigers for their skins and bones, among others.
Are there other things to keep in mind as a respectful traveller? Let us know in the comment section below.
Also, don’t forget to share your best holiday snaps with us on Instagram by tagging @bambaexperience or #bambaexperience.