Responsible tourism is an approach to the management of tourism, aimed at maximising economic, social and environmental benefits and minimising costs to destinations. Simply put, Responsible tourism is tourism ‘that creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit – Cape Town Gov.
What is responsible tourism to you? No matter if you are heading to a resort like Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort in Morocco or a sustainable development like Oude Molen Eco Village in rural South Africa, there are still various ways in which you can be a responsible tourist. Essentially, we are visiting areas that are not our homes, which means that we have to respect these new towns and cities and contribute to the upliftment of these areas, rather than just passing by. Here are some ways in which you can be a responsible tourist, no matter where you decide to head off to for your next holiday escape.
- Research your destination: This means reading up on the place you are travelling to and asking your travel agent about the area. Knowledge is power and it will enlighten you when you are travelling if you already know some knowledge on the town or city.
- Learn some local phrases: We are not saying that you must go for language classes essentially, but even learning how to say simple phrases such as “hello” and “thank you” will show the local people of the area that you are visiting that you respect them, and they in turn will offer that same level of respect back.
- Respect local community: Be open to what they have to teach you and respect their ways and customs. Show respect for elders and even beggars. If you would like to take a photograph, ask first as for some, this might be offensive. Remember to be polite no matter what!
- Understand their challenges: In some areas, something that we use every day at home and possibly take for granted, for example water or electricity, might be scarce at your destination. If water or electricity is indeed an issue, take shorter showers and turn lights off. This is just an example of respecting the place you are in and taking their needs into consideration.
- Shop with care: Try to buy from local vendors rather than grabbing some souvenirs in the gift shop at the airport. Also, be aware of what you are buying and do not buy anything that is from endangered species or plants. As you know, bargaining is welcomed in most places, but also do not push the locals too much as they are not making a large amount of money and you might be seen as rude.
These are just a few ways in which you can be a responsible tourist during your stay!