Take a look at the newly launched SA and Beyond magazine, which I’m delighted to be a part of with 9 articles that cover some of my favourite destinations from Marrakech to Lisbon, with a look at The Beatles’ time in Rishikesh, Venice, local game reserves and travel trends. As well as the above, which allows me to offer some advice on how to be a more Responsible Tourist.
I’ll be rolling them out on my blog over the next weeks and will share here, starting with this one.
With climate change affecting all of us, tourists are becoming more aware of the potentially negative impact they’re having on the environment and are seeking out more responsible options when they travel. This means not only examining their own carbon footprints, but also the economic and social influence they may have on the destinations they visit.
Aligned to this, everything from human rights and equality to improved working conditions come into play for the tourist who doesn’t want to be perceived to be supporting ‘controversial countries’ on their travels. Safety, regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation are of increased importance, while destinations that support women travelling alone remain popular.
In summary, if you are turning a blind eye to exploited communities, leave the air-conditioner on when you leave the room, aren’t carrying a reusable water bottle and think that interacting with wild animals is acceptable, you’re not a responsible tourist.
Here are some ways to be a more Responsible Tourist.
Fly Smarter and Lighter
Airlines produce fossil fuels, which are harmful to the environment. Be smart and select a greener airline with a newer fleet of planes modernised to produce fewer emissions. Book direct flights where possible to reduce flying time. Once cruising at altitude, lower the window shades, it keeps the aircraft a few degrees cooler, which saves energy. Bring your own in-flight gear such as a headset and blanket. Pack light, the more weight on a plane, the more fuel it requires.
Choose Greener Accommodation
Be selective in your choice of accommodation. Look to family-run businesses with a strong eco feel, or sustainable tourism endorsement, which ensures that environmental, economic and social values are being upheld. Get to the core of responsible tourism by eating locally sourced food, in turn supporting resident farmers and creating job opportunities for the community, while getting a real taste of the homegrown cuisine. Green travel trends in the hotel sector include simple things such as reusing towels, keeping your linen for 2-3 days, low flow showerheads and the use of solar power.
Choose an Eco-Friendly Tour
Seek experiences that have meaning and create memories, from cultural and heritage experiences that speak of the traditions and history of a place to adventure activities or travel with a purpose, where tourists can contribute to a greater cause or even get involved in local conservation efforts. Research what is available in your chosen destination and remember the old adage – take only photographs, leave only footprints.
Under Tourism, not Over Tourism
The increased awareness around over-tourism in cities such as Venice and Dubrovnik, Paris and Barcelona, has tourists thinking about the impact their visits have on tourism hotspots. Consider travelling to lesser-known, eco-friendly destinations, from East Europe to India, Portugal and Slovenia. Should the popular hotspots be irresistible, consider visiting during off-peak periods in a bid to avoid the worst of the crowds.
You Don’t Need that Animal Interaction
Gone are the days when elephant back riding or petting lion cubs was acceptable. Attractions to avoid in the name of responsible tourism include visiting circuses with large animals, bullfighting, walking with lions or other big cats, petting cubs, ostrich riding, swimming with dolphins, orca shows, dancing bears and performing monkeys. Humans need to adjust their attitude and accept that animals belong in the wild and should not be exploited. Educate yourself about the torture most of the animals in tourism undergo.
Go Plastic Free
Tireless efforts by environmentalists have greatly increased awareness of plastic’s negative impact on the ocean, and the planet and many tourism bodies have pledged to take action, aiming to end the use of plastic straws, plastic water bottles and single-use plastic. Carry a shopping bag and your own reusable water bottle, don’t use disposable toiletries, carry a cloth napkin or two. Don’t buy unnecessary cheap plastic souvenirs, opt for the real thing made locally and ideally with a story that inspires telling.
Be kind and respectful
Be respectful and aware of your surrounds, be they urban or wilderness. Be gracious to all who host and serve you. Tip well. Be present. Think about what you post on social media.
Remember that you are a guest, and that travel is a privilege.
Read my other published articles here. Many of the pics supplied, the rest by me.