What is Responsible Tourism? Green Series Part 4.

Welcome to Part Four of The Green Series!

The Green Series is all about ethical, sustainable and responsible travel. If you’re a frequent flyer, these are the things you should know before you go! To get you up to speed, so far we’ve covered the concept of greenwashing, discovered how to find a responsible tour operator or agent, and heard from Citizen’s of the Great Barrier Reef’s Communications Manager, Kate O’Callaghan on the affects tourism has on Australia’s most prized possession.

This post is all about defining what responsible tourism is! How can we be more responsible when we travel? And, are we doing things currently without awareness that might be hindering a problem rather than helping it.

In short, responsible tourism can be defined as something that “minimises negative economic, environmental and social impacts” Harold Goodwin (he’s legit a responsible tourism guru.)

But if we delve deeper it can also mean a lot to communities on a greater scale. If you think about your last holiday, let’s say you went to the Galapagos Islands. Every single thing you did on that holiday impacted the environment more than once.

Sea Lion Galapagos
The cheeky Sea Lion pup who nibbled on my flipper.

For starters, you had to fly there, which means you contributed to an increase in carbon emissions. I know what you’re thinking ‘but Lexi! I HAVE to fly to travel, plus you fly all the time – why you makin’ me feel bad?’ To that all I can say is that I do fly but when I do, I use the most direct route to get there and I always travel economy. I was startled to hear people actually prefer to take longer routes, with more stop off’s not just for a cheaper price, no – worse, for status points! *face-palm

According to a 2010 report from NASA, about 25 percent of airplane emissions come from landing and taking off. That includes taxiing, which is the largest source of emissions in the landing-takeoff cycle. Plus! Business class, while a treat, does generate 3.5 times the carbon footprint of an economy option (read it here). I’m not judgin’ but awareness is key!

Then if you think about what activities you might do in Ecuador, you might:

  • Eat at a local restaurant
  • Go shopping
  • Stay at a hotel
  • Use public transport/Uber
  • Take a photo of the local people
  • Participate in an cultural activity
  • Hire a tour guide or trekking guide

Imagine you were doing all of those things AND contributing to a positive economic, cultural and environmental outcome for Ecuador – that’s responsible tourism.

Sea Lion Galapagos
The lazy life of a Sea Lion

For you as the tourist, it provides a more meaningful connection with local people, a greater understanding of cultural, social and environmental issues locally. A better understanding of being culturally sensitive engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence.

All of these things directly impact the community and generates a greater economic benefit – but it’s not always positive to the local people.

 “Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility” Ambrose Bierce

Something that isn’t often talked about is photography and in particular the subject of children. Often permission is waived because travellers assume the right – perhaps because they’ve purchased something or donated money. It’s a tricky subject but if the camera was in the other hand and you, the traveller were the subject I wouldn’t like to assume you would find it okay. Particularly when the photo will likely be posted online.

Land Iguana Galapagos
Look at those claws! A gigantic Land Iguana, Galapagos

Hiring a tour guide or trekking porter can be the same, we assume the local is paid well, clothed well and provided access of annual and sick leave, but often this isn’t the case. Porter protection agencies are in place to ensure guides and porters are protected, but not all tour agencies abide by the rules. As always! Do your research! If this is you: “Yeah Lex, this is all great, but I don’t know where to start, can you just tell me who I should trust when I travel?” my answer would be: “Read the Green Series Part 1 & 2! But in all honesty, I’m still figuring it out myself”

Lastly, if you are going to Ecuador (or anywhere actually!) on behalf of all the animals out there and to support the message of World Animal Protection, please, please, please avoid any tours that promote the following:

  • Voluntourism (ill-managed volunteer work)
  • Visiting of orphanages
  • Elephant rides
  • Civet coffee tours
  • Tiger selfies
  • Turtle selfies
  • Dolphin selfies

So basically any selfies with animals in general!

Thanks for reading Part four of the Green Series, the next installment will be a review of products that I use while travelling to help reduce my footprint, maybe it’ll be a V-LOG or a normal post… you’ll have to wait and see!

But before that, you simply must hear all about Sri Lanka! Coming soon…

As always……Subscribe to the newsletter, comment below, share this article or follow me @whoislexiconnors.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s