Responsible Tourism Week 2016
Responsible Tourism week or #RTWeek16 is a global campaign which was created by Planeta.com and is in its 8th year. The week is a great opportunity to collaborate, network and highlight tourism practices which have responsible and sustainable practices at the heart of their business and community models.
In her first blog for Travel Matters, Maryna Shcherbakova writes about what responsible tourism means to her.I have been a responsible traveller even before realising that such a term “responsible tourism” existed. Travelling this way was something that came naturally to me. I could not imagine that there was a different way of doing it. We are a generation of low cost airlines, budget hotels, and easy online reservations. Travelling the world has never been more accessible. Unfortunately, it comes at a price. The travel industry contributes to a significant amount of waste and pollution. It is our responsibility to preserve our environment for future generations, so that our children can see what we enjoyed so much back in our hey days!I have listed below a few ways of how we could be better travellers.1. It all starts with choosing a hotel, regardless of your budget. These days many luxury hotels follow “green” principles. They encourage reusing towels and bed linen, use sustainable materials for construction, and even support local conservation projects. Many of them are built in unique natural landscapes and use solar energy for running. Regrettably, not every hotel company has nature’s genuine interest at heart. Many of them do just about enough so they can advertise themselves on social media as green, in the hope that they can capitalise on the current trends. It is always helpful to do your research first.
Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to stay in five star accommodation. A good alternative is to stay in small hotels and guesthouses run by local families.
2. Dining out is another way of contributing to the local community. Instead of going all-inclusive, opt for bed and breakfast or room only. Small family run businesses will really appreciate your custom, not to mention that the produce they normally use is locally sourced and organic. Be adventurous and try local specialities, you can always have that pizza and burgers at home.
3. We all know how convenient it is to buy our souvenirs at airports or big shopping centres. Small local vendors lose the unequal battle every day and eventually go out of business. It is more time consuming to look for souvenirs at local markets but the pieces you can get are often handcrafted and always unique. Just imagine your guests’ jaws dropping when they contemplate your around the world collection!
4. Take only photographs, leave only footprints. This ecotourism mantra should be adhered to at all times.
5. Travel green. I have cycled over 4,000 miles around Asia, and it was the experience I will cherish forever. Walking and cycling tours are easily obtainable and provide a unique insight into locals’ everyday life. Get off the beaten track now!
6. Do not get upset if someone does not speak English or does not have that caramel latte. Travelling is all about expanding your horizons and getting out of your comfort zone. Locals are not obliged to speak foreign languages or serve foreign foods.
Very often, I observed tourists treating locals as inferior human beings. They think: “I come to this country to spend money. You all owe me!” Be respectful and learn about other cultures.