Responsible Tourism Blog Series 1/3: What is Responsible Tourism?
Travel has become increasingly cheap and accessible, but what effect has this had on Local communities?
More people than ever are setting out to explore parts of the world they have never seen and experience cultures they previously had only read about. Whilst this is great to foster understanding and empathy between cultures, some destinations are feeling the strain of the increased tourism market. Small and out of the way destinations have become popular tourist spots, due in part to the on-going search for a unique holiday experience. The big tourist attractions are feeling the pressure too, with many reaching an unprecedented number of visitors and needing to apply limits on daily visitor numbers. Travelling is a great way to learn about different cultures first hand, but it is important to learn about the impacts that come with jetting off overseas.
How do we make informed decisions whilst travelling?
With climate change as a global issue on the forefront, it is important that we all do everything we can to ensure that we are keeping our planet clean, healthy and beautiful, especially whilst travelling! There are many different terms used these days to describe whether a service is ethical and sustainable, and it can be confusing to know what each of them mean. Here, we explain what three key terms mean:
Ecotourism refers solely to services that protect the environment. For instance, a hotel may state that they are eco-friendly because they use solar power. Whist being eco-friendly is very important, this term is uni-faceted and doesn’t take into account the importance of protecting the surrounding communities and villages. Ecotourism is a good start, but it doesn’t incorporate all of our traveling goals.
This term means that the service uses processes that can operate for a long time as they promote circular processes and do not erode resources. A good way to think about this is like the saying “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime”. These services equip local people and ecosystems with the tools and resources to minimise harm.
Sustainable tourism should always be the goal, but it isn’t always logical. For instance, some locations can only be reached by flying, which is a convenient form of travel but leaves behind a huge carbon emission footprint, which isn’t sustainable.
Responsible tourism is a term used to highlight services that protect both the local communities and the environment, whilst taking into consideration that sometimes our travelling methods aren’t the most sustainable. This term highlights that we are thinking about our decisions and are putting our best foot forward to do the best we can to make our travelling safe for everyone!
At Seven Women, we are proud to support sustainable tourism ventures and visit many different social enterprises on our tours, each of which is tackling a different social issues. We also have our own social enterprises in Nepal, including the Seven Women Centre, which employs previously marginalised women, allowing them to make an income and living for themselves.