From eco tours to responsible travel

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Responsible Travel Holidays

From eco tours to responsible travel – a blog about environmental travel

Traveling is an amazing experience; it can change your perspective of humanity and make you see the world in a whole new way. But many people don’t know how to travel ethically, nor do they take actions necessary to make ethical travel successful. Before I share with you how to travel ethically, I want to define what we think ethical travel is, so you have a better understanding of what it means to us here at Our Local Tour.

There is a small but persistent stream of opinion, mostly among environmentalists, that travel is unethical. It encourages luxury, it encourages environmental degradation, it encourages selfishness.

The UNTWO publish the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET) which is a comprehensive set of principles designed to guide key-players in tourism development. The 10 articles of the code make for a comprehensive blue print for any organisation wishing to offer responsible travel and ethical vacations. We strongly recommend anyone interested in this area of tourism visit the UNTWO website on their Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.

Our definition of ethical or responsible travel is to take a much deeper look at where you’re going and what you’re doing, and how it’s affecting the environment and your fellow travellers. In order to be ethical, travelling shouldn’t involve depriving local environments of their natural resources. In fact, it should even involve making a point to minimize your carbon footprint in the process and contribute to the places and communities that you visit.

So, how do you travel ethically?

  • Be sure to research where you want to travel and what issues can affect your experience.
  • Understand the issues facing the places you want to visit, and what impact your presence there can have on them.
  • If you take a small group tour, the way you’re travelling will have a minimal impact on the local environment. Make sure that the tour operator and their tours adhere to the highest environmental, fair trade and human rights standards. (we do!)
  • You will need to acknowledge that there will be a conflict of interest between your travelling and your environmental responsibilities. Consider not flying to your destination if possible and use local transport. Make your trips longer but less frequent, thereby reducing the overall carbon footprint.
  • When travelling, it is important to obey local laws and regulations. You should not commit any crime or offense against the country’s regulations, and you must avoid engaging in any activity that is deemed offensive or injurious by the indigenous people.
  • Nature tourism and ecotourism are recognised as being particularly conducive to enriching and enhancing the standing of tourism in destinations. This is true provided that the operators respect local populations and that there is not an overburden on the natural resources. Ask your tour operator how many people are travelling and how local natural resources are consumed.
  • It’s important to make sure that the financial resources derived from visits to cultural sites and monuments are used for the upkeep, safeguard, development and embellishment of this heritage.
  • How does your responsible tour operator treat their staff and freelance employees? Workers in the tourism industry and related activities have the right to acquire appropriate initial and continuous training, they have a duty to acquire such training, and there employers should ensure that they are given adequate social protection.
  • A tour operator has a responsibility to the travellers on the vacation. Tourists and visitors have the responsibility to acquaint themselves with the characteristics of a country before leaving home. They must be aware of the health and security risks inherent in any travel outside their usual environment and behave in such a way as to minimize those risks. The tour operator should be leading this through pre-departure information and guidance.

The best advice we can give comes not from us but from Zurab Pololikashvili, the UNWTO Secretary-General who said ” Tourism is a genuine driver of solidarity and development. Let us all fully harness its power to bring people and communities together. This way tourism can keep delivering better opportunities and sustainable development for millions across the globe. ”

In the end, the only way to insure that your tour adheres to a policy of responsible travel and that it goes off without a hitch is to research and plan thoroughly beforehand.

Using a reputable tour operator such as Our Local Tour, who maintains long-term relationships with their local partners while maintaining a high standard of excellence for their tours is a good first step.