#ResponsibleTourism, My Take

Happy travelers, while they carry back happy memories should take up this responsibility of leaving behind happy places. A termed coined for this simple act is Responsible Tourism!

3 Pillars of Responsible Tourism

To contribute to responsible tourism one must understand the 3 vital supports of responsible tourism are: economic, social and environmental.

Economic Factors

How does one contribute to economic conditions of a holiday location? Before you commence your holiday question yourself – how you can contribute to the betterment of the holiday location. Have you done any of these below?

What to eat?

Do you still hunt for McDonald or KFC chains when holidaying? Please don’t. Hunt down local joints, eat local cuisines. As a non vegetarian you know Goa is famous for fish, so, go for sea food. Ask what fish is is available for the day. If the catch of Seer fish or mackerel is good for that day, then choose them for your lunch. That helps the local fishermen too. Accordingly in other places restrict your non veg consumption while on travel, go green in terms of food. Relishing a locally made petha in Agra will be much more responsible compared to relishing an ice cream in Agra which is available anywhere else. Avoid plastic bottles for water instead go for glass bottles which can be refilled again and again.

What to shop?

You may not have a big budget for souvenir but whatever little you spend be a little thoughtful about local crafts and produce. Souvenir shopping can be fun when you interact with locals who have put in lot of hard work. It helps them emotionally too when you understand their limitations and talent. After all it is their bread and butter. During my visit to Shantiniketan in West Bengal I interacted with leather bag makers in Amar Kutir there. I saw the effort and time they put in making one single bag. I bought one and a couple more for my friends. The feeling was satisfying and happy for all of us, the maker, the seller and me the buyer.

souvenirs responsible tourism

Where to stay?

This is slightly tricky. Home stays are the wisest choice in terms of contributing to the economic conditions of a holiday location. Many retired people, in the hope of some income offer bed and breakfast facilities. Yes you may not get swimming pool and spa facilities, but you will definitely experience the local warmth and friendliness. They are more wise about local festivals, local culture and interacting with them helps you understand local people well. In Coorg, I have stayed both at Orange County, one of the costliest resort there and also at a holiday home. I cherish the second one more. The gratitude the old couple had in their eyes when I was leaving the place is unforgettable!

What to waste?

Waste only time! Carry all other waste that you create back with you. Conserve energy with small but meaningful acts like switching off power when not in use. Conserve water, reduce, reuse, say no to plastics and don’t litter!

Social Factors

This is a very sensitive issue today. I have seen many tourists simply ignore the local cultural requirements and norms. These are few steps that I practice and suggest to be practiced as a responsible tourist.

  • Dress properly when you visit the local sacred shrines.
  • Learn a word or two of politeness in local language. Nanri in Tamil means thank you. Say that when you are lost and a local gives you directions to your destination.
  • Don’t be obsessed with photography. I experience a lot difficulty in restraining myself on this issue, particularly because of faces of India series that I run in my blog. But over the years I have learnt to control, I learned the art of striking up a conversation and ask permission before taking pics. I fully understand people are not objects of entertainment unless they are putting up a show for the tourists.
  • You are holidaying, so you wish to enjoy but that doesn’t mean you become nuisance to others. Don’t get drunk and be anti social. It is an offense at the holiday location as much as it is in your home town.
  • Last but not the least; if you notice or suspect any kind of unnatural activity with local children, kindly report to local police station. Innocent ignorant children are often trafficked for prostitution and child sex.

faces responsible tourism

Environmental Factors

Use of Animals

Unfortunately today under the garb of eco tourism lot of havoc is done on the natural habitat of the place. Animals are held captive, animals are reared for hunting, and animals made to pose with humans for photographs are some of the activities provided in the stay packages offered by resorts.

Cuddling and petting captive animals should seriously be boycotted. It is a hefty source of income for the rich resort owners at the expense of animals’ freedom. I was aghast reading that some resorts in Africa rear lions just for offering hunting opportunities to the stinking rich tourists.

In my own country too monkeys and bears are dressed up to entertain tourists. This must stop. As a tourist just turn your face away from them. Don’t feed wild animals; you will be doing more harm than good. This is definitely not the way to contribute to the economic conditions of holiday locations.

orangutan responsible tourism

Orangutan in its natural habitat in Shangrila Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

Displacement of Locals

Another environmental disturbance created by tourism is eviction of locals. Land sharks evict villages and mow down green mountain sides to erect posh holiday homes. How inhuman can one be! A well populated village with traditional style of living is asked to vacate; where will the villager go? Having lost his farm how will he earn his bread and butter? Does he have any other skill to survive? These are some vital questions that need to be answered before embarking on new tourism projects by government.

Guidelines for Hikers

Hikers, night campers create lot of waste and pollute the nature. They spend few hours but cause damage that sometimes last a life time. Government and local bodies should create responsible tourism destinations. They must work together with walking or biking groups, to create the right guidelines and messages to be followed while doing outdoor activities.

Finally to conclude I will say:

One must celebrate travel and not be a curse to the holiday location!

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33 Responses

  1. Sounds to me like you are a wise and responsible traveler, Indrani!

  2. eileen says:

    Great post and informations, Indrani! It is nice to shop with the locals.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Bibi says:

    Good advice given here.

  4. Cloudia says:

    Important post Indrani. Thanks

    Warm ALOHA,
    ComfortSpiral

    (\__/)
    (=’.’=)
    (“)_(”)

  5. ann says:

    I have a succulent in a cup too.

  6. Nicely written and as I said on my post on #ResponsibleTourism – The only way to travel is responsibly!!

  7. vishal says:

    Great tips Indrani 🙂

  8. fly girl says:

    Indrani, these are exactly the points that I and so many travelers have been trying to promote. Traveling with a conscious awareness of how you affect the local economy, environment and culture is so important. I think as these points get more visibility, they will become widely practiced.

  9. The right Points.. Brought out in time, Indrani!

  10. Most of the points I attempt to follow but I was very surprised to see you adding the bit about seeing an unusual activity and reporting, one doesn’t think of this. But I guess it will now be added in my radar

  11. Such a wise advice by you… this is indeed a thoughtful post 🙂

  12. Well drafted and to the point post Indrani

  13. Apt points well presented, Indrani. I was nodding throughout 🙂

  14. A very enlightening post!

  15. Saket says:

    p.s. I remember one of your posts about Skyscanner….. which was equally powerful 🙂

  16. Somali says:

    A well structured post with all the points under the Social, Economic & Environmental factors nicely enumerated.

  17. Aditi says:

    Go local, all the way! Great advice, Indrani!

  18. Chaitali says:

    You provided the essential gist in well rounded points. Thank you.

  19. Well, nice article. I admit that I’m too lazy and it’s highly unlikely that I’ll move from the comfort of my drawing room to wander anywhere and if I ever be suicidal enough to venture, it’s going to help me a lot.

    The reason I always check out your posts is, you see the life from a different perspective. There’s a hidden story in each face. What else does a poor story writer like me need? 🙂

  20. Indrani,

    I like the way you have divided how to travel responsibly. Usually forget what to buy , what to eat or event stay. Great post 🙂

  21. Very valid suggestions for being a responsible tourist Indrani and hope these make a difference in our mentality.

  22. Kishor Kr says:

    Very good tips. Good for traveler, traveling location and environment.

  23. vatsala mallya says:

    Great post and articulative,covering the whole aspect of responsible tourism in a nutshell. Good read.

  24. Nisha says:

    Very thoughtful & well written post Indrani. All the best.

  25. Mridula says:

    A comprehensive take!

  26. Ruchi says:

    nice post!…covers everything..cant agree more on use of animals thing.

  27. well written ,shows how much you love traveling and places

  28. Nicely written Indrani. I completely agree with all points written. And even I love to eat the local food whenever I travel and I buy a small item from the place , for which it is famous for. This will refresh the memories of the trip.

  29. You have covered it all … Beautifully written article 🙂

  30. ann says:

    love the wall with the teacups of cacti. I have one plant like this.

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