Thoughtful Tourism30.09.19 | Oliver
The phrase ‘Sustainable tourism’ is something the travel industry is well-aware of. Most travel companies will have an ‘ST Policy’ and work at giving back to the communities they operate in.
I proposed a new term for us all as travellers: ‘Thoughtful Tourism’.
No one likes being told how to enjoy their holidays or travel adventures. But we do all have a responsibility when it comes to respecting the destinations we visit. Taking a moment to think about where we are visiting and the impact it can have on local lives for example can be a simple, yet powerful tool. To explain further I have provided a few examples and hope that maybe next time you travel, you find your own way to practise thoughtful tourism.
THOUGHTFUL TOURISM TIPS
Where to go?
This is the million dollar question for many. The world is certainly getting smaller and more accessible. Consider your wishlist, and which destinations may be suffering from ‘over-tourism’. A good example of these are the New Seven Wonders of the World as well as many UNESCO World Heritage sites. Many will want to visit the MUST SEE monument, but with a little inside, local knowledge, you may find out there is an even better one with way less tourists just down the road!
Choose your travel date wisely
There’s nothing worse than missing out on seeing that all-important monument, or hearing what your guide is telling you because of the mounting crowds around you. Venice is a prime example of this. Thousands descend on the floating city in the summer months and even more are dropped off daily by collosal cruise ships. Whilst I appreciate us Brits love going away and seeing some sunshine, are you going to Venice to warm up, or to experience Venice? Consider visiting in the winter, and check the city’s conference and event calendar to avoid peak times. There is a certain magic in Venice in the cooler months away from the hoards of visitors. This will not only enhance your own experience, but alleviate the local livelihoods too. Recently, UNESCO threatened to revoke Dubrovnik’s status unless they started to restrict the number of cruise ships dropping off thousands of day visitors, noticing the visible impact they are having on the historic part of the city.
Digital technology has brought the world closer together. Whilst it is easier than ever to visit far flung destinations, many travellers forget there are many strict local customs that still exist and some are naive to think these also change as fast as technology! The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have a handy new service via their website which details important local customs, from legal drinking ages, religious protocols to LGBT+ rights etc. Having a quick read before you travel can ensure you are a thoughtful tourist and avoid any awkward moments whilst on holiday.
Learn a little…
A few words of the local language can go a long way, and shows respect to locals. If you are on a cultural tour, a little background knowledge of a country’s difficult political situation or past history shows interest and can often help break the ice with a local guide. You receive a more respectful experience, and your guide will be happy that you have done your research.
The ‘All-inclusive’ debate
Whilst they don’t appeal to everyone, there is no denying the great value for money and peace of mind all-inclusive holidays offer and the demand for them is increasing. Whilst we do not discourage our clients from booking such trips, there are some considerations one can make to ensure they are an ethical holiday. For example, in the past it was reported that some of the large ‘wrist-band’ style resorts in Egypt were putting many local restauranteurs out of business as no guest would leave the hotel grounds for a whole week. They were importing food from abroad, so even the local farmers were losing out. Times have changed and more reputable all-inclusive hoteliers locally source their produce and commit to training and employing local talent.
Getting involved / donating
Aid deliveries to certain parts of Africa are often intercepted and sadly never reach their intended final destination. Most safari lodges or camps have an allocated charity or project they fund and out advice would be to research this before you go and if you want to show support to the locals, stick to this cause.
I am sure by now you may be thinking of some ideas by yourselves. All I would say is get some advice. What we may think will help may actually hinder. All our hearts will obviously be in the right place, and with some thought put in, our holiday experiences will no doubt be enhanced greatly.