Tourism can contribute to the positive development of many countries, but in order to make this happen, we as travelers need to take some responsibility. Just traveling to a country and seeing the poverty doesn’t really make much difference, we also need to be prepared to take some action.
I’m not talking about charity and volunteering this time, no this is much simpler than that. By taking some responsibility I mean putting some pressure on the Western tourist industry.
Making a difference and helping a country doesn’t have to equal making a big effort, all it takes is that we raise our standards and won’t accept or support tourist companies who abuse their power and ignore human rights.
The tourist companies will bend over backwards to keep their customers happy. As long as we’re happy and pleased, they’re happy. If we accept their actions they will continue doing what they do. We should use our power as customers!
Understand the Challenges Your Vacation Locales Face
First of all, we have to know what’s really going on behind the scenes. We can’t change something if we don’t know what’s wrong first, right? In this blog post I share the bad side of tourism, and what we all can do to make a small difference.
The big restaurants, hotels, and hotel chains are often built and managed by international companies. The locals see and gain very little of the income from the tourism. Instead the money goes to the Western tourist companies outside the country.
It’s true that the tourist industry creates a lot of jobs for people, but the working conditions are often poor. The local work that the tourist industry creates are often low paid (so much so that they often find it hard to survive) and it’s not uncommon that you can also find children working.
According to the “Tourism Concern” charity, trekking porters carrying the heavy supplies for tourists in trekking destinations like Nepal are an example of jobs created by the tourist industry with very bad working conditions.
Traveling Creates Lack of Water in Many Countries
Hotels with big swimming pools, showers, lawns, and golf courses need loads of water every day. In places where there is a limited amount of freshwater such as islands and coastal areas, the hotels’ massive use of this creates severe consequences for the locals.
Trafficking and Child Prostitution
A big problem in the tourist industry is the growth of sex tourism. The trading of women’s and children’s bodies is huge in countries like Thailand and Brazil, and because it’s the third most profitable business in the world, you can find that it’s just getting worse and worse.
Alcohol and Drug Consumption
This is about the tourists’ attitude on their travels. There is a reason why many locals don’t like tourists and have made up assumptions of us being violent, rude, and disrespectful drunks. If that’s all they see, why would they ever want to get to know us?
It’s so sad coming to a place where people already have negative assumptions of you because you’re a tourist. So please, make a good impression!
Eco-Friendly Tour Options Waiting for You
Many people are fascinated by green travel and eco-friendly tours. Essentially, this involves respecting the environment by making responsible and sustainable choices. One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is by signing up for an eco-friendly tour.
Thanks to the booming popularity of green travel, it’s possible to find these tours almost anywhere. Whether your travels take you to the other side of the world or to the other side of town, chances are good that there are environmentally friendly touring options just waiting for you.
Eco-Friendly Tour Ideas
Consider signing up for a guided tour that relies upon an alternative means of transportation. Segway tours in cities like Atlanta, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. are readily available. Each tour is unique, enabling you to discover some of the major sights in each city without the use of fossil fuels.
These tours generally last from one to three hours, and small group sizes ensure plenty of one-on-one interaction with the knowledgeable guide. Even if you choose to travel alone, a group or self-guided tour is something to consider. In addition to tours that show you the major attractions, look for special or seasonal tours. Some companies offer tours for viewing holiday lights or for seeing the leaves change color in the fall.
If the Segway doesn’t appeal to you, bicycling is another eco-friendly tour option. Bicycling tours are very popular in Europe and to a lesser extent the U.S. While many such tours require that you power your bike with your legs, others provide an electric bike to make the going a little easier. You’ll be able to climb hills with ease while riding this green transportation option.
Some countries have elevated the principles of the eco-friendly tour to high art. One of these is Costa Rica. With its lush jungles and tremendous diversity of wildlife, this Central American country is an ideal spot for green travel. You can stay a various nature retreats, which are found deep in an unspoiled forest, and book amazing explorations through an organization which specializes in environmentally friendly tourism.
Nepal is another destination that provides a broad array of environmentally responsible tourism options. There are many organizations that specialize in eco-tourism itineraries, making it possible for you to explore the culture and landscape in a safe, sustainable manner. From wildlife safaris to canoeing or trekking, these adventures are designed to be remembered for a lifetime.
Choose an eco-friendly tour the next time you travel for a journey that is as sustainable as it is memorable.
What You Can Do To Travel More Consciously
Here are six tips from Flights.com to help you conscientiously explore the Earth.
Before You Travel:
If you travel with a travel agency:
- Ask about the working conditions for the employees in the hotel you’ll be staying in.
- Ask about the hotel’s work with the environment; is the drain water cleaned? How do they manage waste products?
- Ask your travel agency how they counteract prostitution and trafficking in the destination.
- If the hotels hear these questions from many guests and are forced to come up with excuses every time, the chance is big that they will listen and start to change.
For Everyone: Read about the country and the culture for the destination you’re heading so that you are aware of the problems in the country (for example possible lack of water) and how to behave to make a good impression as a tourist.
Conscious Traveling During Your Trip
Show respect: The worst thing I know is to see tourists acting like they’re kings by snapping their fingers for the waitress or demanding outrageous things and treating people like they’re worth less than them. Act the same way you would like tourists to behave in your own country. Show respect for culture, way of life, and employees on your destination, both at the hostel/hotel you’re staying and in restaurants.
Choose local small hotels: By staying in smaller local hotels instead of big international hotel chains, the money goes to the people living in the country you’re visiting.
Buy from the Locals. Buy food, drinks, activities, and souvenirs from the locals. This way you contribute money into the country instead of a Western company.
Take a stand and make changes: Avoid unnecessary long showers if there is a limited access to water. Tell the hotel boss if you see other guests taking prostitutes to their room. When it comes to these things, it’s not about minding your own business; it’s about trying to make a change. Your voice matters: If everyone did this the hotels would be forced to do something about it. They accept what the majority of their guests accept.
Don’t bargain just for the bargain’s sake and buy carefully: If something already is cheap as it is, just buy it. You know the people need the money for their families to survive. Don’t buy things from endangered species or items such as ivory, shark teeth, and corals. The law of “supply and demand” applies. They will only sell what people want to buy; don’t contribute to illegal killings and depletion of nature.
If we all worked together, I believe traveling can reach a whole new better level and we would all get much out of this.