Responsible tourist destinations: what you should know
According to The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2016 report by the Centre for Responsible Travel (CREST), 50 million more tourists travelled in 2015 than the year before, making it the sixth year of above-average growth since the 2009 economic crisis. Worldwide tourism is increasing, and the CREST report indicates that the growth in responsible tourism is even greater.
The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Confidence Index predicts that this growth in tourism will continue. UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai says that it is “critical for countries to promote policies that foster the continued growth of tourism…including sustainability”.
As defined by consultancy company Sustaining Tourism, responsible tourism “minimizes negative social, economic and environmental impacts, generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, and improves working conditions and access to the industry.”
Many travellers nowadays are seeking ways to ensure their travels have low impact on the environment and benefit the communities they visit. In fact, 2017 has been declared the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. Here are a few examples of how you can enjoy your travels responsibly:
Support your destination.
Wherever you are, and wherever you go, one thing you can do anywhere to ensure you are making an impact on your chosen destination is to support local business.
Whether it’s staying in small bed and breakfasts or boutique hotels, eating in cafes, buying souvenirs from local shops and markets, buying products made in the region, eating local delicacies, visiting museums and other attractions, or booking a local tour guide, there are so many ways that you can personally boost the local economy.
Research responsible amenities.
One of the main drawcards of destinations and accommodations is amenities that will provide entertainment that the whole family can enjoy. But top amenities can cost a lot to maintain, and not only from a financial perspective. You may be partial to a round on a golf course when travelling, but consider how much water is required to maintain them.
So, what makes an amenity a responsible one? Multinational innovation company Crystal Lagoons has 600 projects in various stages of development around the world, with sustainable, environmentally-friendly lagoons.
Crystal Lagoons use less water – half that of a park of the same size, and 30 times less water than a golf course. It uses less energy too(2% of the energy required by traditional filtration systems) – patented technology cleans the water only when necessary rather than circulating water multiple times a day like traditional water amenities.
For the responsible tourist, resorts with sustainable amenities should be top-of-mind. You can find a Crystal Lagoon at City Stars Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt and on Bintan Island in Indonesia, amongst other destinations.
Help to protect animals’ wellbeing.
According to World Animal Protection hundreds of thousands of wild animals are kept in captivity to be used for entertainment at tourist attractions. This includes elephants that are beaten into submission so people can ride them, lions and tigers kept in captivity as circus attractions or chained so tourists can take pictures with them, and dolphins and orcas kept in aquariums and forced to perform, to name just a few.
You can read World Animal Protection’s guide to “being animal-friendly on holiday” here. But the main thing you can do is refuse to partake in these activities and attractions during your travels. If you want to see animals, do your research into the sites you’re thinking of visiting and be sure to only go if they are in it for the good of the animals and not you, the tourist.
Book through those who know.
Responsible Travel is an example of a company focusing on providing only sustainable options for travellers. It is a one-stop shop for researching responsible tour companies and holiday packages for destinations worldwide.
Whether you want to go on a safari tour across Africa, embark on a husky safari and see the Northern Lights in Finland, walk the countryside on a tour of Spain, go island hopping in Fiji, or craft your way through Bulgaria, make sure you use providers who can guarantee that you are supporting responsible businesses.
Wherever you go, be sure to do your research beforehand and make sure you’re making the right impact on your travels around the world. And don’t forget to follow the Responsible Travel motto by treating local people with respect and fairness.