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Responsible Tourism

by Lux Joseph 26. August 2014

We are all aware that our planet, and in some places her people, are in a delicate state. The reality is that we must act now to preserve our planet, her natural resources and protect the, usually unseen, people of tourist destinations around the world. The travel industry is committed to responsible tourism. This is the time that the travel industry, retailers and consumers, can make a difference. We know what is at stake if we do not succeed.

What is responsible tourism?  Responsible tourism is the idea that, by working together, we can all make minor changes to preserve our beaches, rivers and forests. Responsible tourism means will we preserve historic places like Machu Picchu, the Roman Colosseum and the Mayan ruins.  By taking action now, we will leave our children and grandchildren the same beautiful world that so many of us have had the privilege of exploring during our lifetime. 

Responsible tourism focuses on efficiency and using energy resources wisely. For example, the next time you stay in a hotel, turn off the lights and air conditioner before you leave the room. Even though you aren’t paying the electricity bill you are still using energy.  Or, instead of requesting fresh towels and linens each day, try to get more than one day’s use out of them.  Many hotels, resorts and even cruise ships now give you the option of refusing their daily linen-exchange service.  These changes, while small, will make a difference if we can get everyone to make them. Commercial Medical Escorrts encourages each of our escorts to participate in responsible tourism while they are on missions around the world.

Responsible tourism also means conserving the world’s beautiful vacation destinations and protecting the local people, wherever they might be.  Many tourists have unfortunately adopted the attitude that their actions won’t impact the areas they visit.  After all, it’s only a week right?  Wrong!  Tourists need to know that while they may only be there for one week, thousands of people visit that destination each year.  What happens if we all adopt the same lackadaisical attitude?  We all must do our part. 

You might be asking yourself, “Well, what can I do that would actually make a difference?”  Start small but think big. Pick up your trash before you leave the beach at the end of the day, be mindful of what you drop or pour into the lake and exercise extreme care when hiking through a national park.  Tourists must not forget that even though they are on vacation, their vacation destination is someone’s home town, village or country and should be treated with the utmost respect.

Another facet of responsible tourism is a relatively new concept, volunteer vacations. A volunteer vacation is a vacation that focuses more on others rather than self.  Many people now take these kinds of trips to learn about new cultures, visit beautiful destinations and to give back to the local people of those destinations.

Volunteer vacations are also important because they put money back into that particular destination’s economy. On a typical vacation you may not always have the chance to interact with the people who call that destination home. By traveling to these areas to volunteer your time, you are not only helping the individuals but also their village, town or country as a whole. You will learn about their culture and heritage and possibly make a few friends along the way. Volunteer vacations bridge the gap between cultures, forming a web of friendship and hospitality around the world. Visit TravelSense.org today to learn more about volunteer vacations!

One of the areas in travel most blamed for crippling our environment is the physical travel part of vacations. Planes, trains and other gas-powered means of travel all receive their fare share of finger-pointing. So, unless you can ride your bike to your vacation destination there’s nothing different you could do right?  Think again!  Many destinations around the world now offer tourists new options when it comes to getting around.  Consider renting a smaller vehicle, perhaps one that runs on an alternative fuel or gets better-than-average gas mileage.  Buses may seem like gas-guzzlers but if everyone decided to take a tour bus while on vacation it would actually be better for the environment than if each individual rented their own car.

Don’t forget that some of the world’s most spectacular sights are not accessible by motorized vehicle. Take advantage of your vacation time to do something good for the planet and for you – hike to the top of a mountain to watch a sunset, take a snorkeling trip to view spectacular coral or just take a peaceful canoe ride down the river. All of these excursions are powered by human energy. Human energy is the safest form of energy always renewable.

Regardless of the type of vacation you chose or where you decide to go, please remember this: We are all connected to each other.  Our world, while grand in size, is not as big as it once was where traveling is concerned.  We can explore or visit almost any destination we choose. If we make a commitment to be responsible tourists we will see a healthier, more beautiful world regardless or where our travels might take us.


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