What is responsible travel?
Responsible travel is the way of travelling that “puts into practice the principle of sustainability” .
It is about “making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit”, i.e. respecting and benefiting the environment and the people involved during travelling. However in most cases travelling in a more responsible way also results in more fun and more adventures for the travellers too.
Characteristics of responsible tourism
The most important characteristics of responsible tourism include:
- minimising negative economic, environmental and social impacts;
- generating greater economic benefits for local people and enhancing the well-being of host communities, e.g. sharing profit with locals, improving working conditions;
- involving local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances;
- making positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage and to the maintenance of the world’s diversity;
- providing more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues;
- adopting equitable and fair business practices.
(For more about the characteristics of responsible tourism read here.)
Why is it important?
The overall aim of responsible tourism is not solely to avoid and minimise damages caused by the tourism industry, but the focus should also be on positive effects and positive changes.
Travelling responsibly means:
- making less impact on the environment;
- having a more quality holiday and getting real experiences;
- having more fun – small group travelling and travelling with locals really make a difference;
- more joy – as if you respect locals and your travelmates, it will make your journey more enjoyable;
- a chance to rediscover nature by going out and being part of it.
To learn more about the importance of responsible travel and the above aspects, please read here.
All stakeholders should be involved
Making tourism more responsible demands all stakeholders – from single travellers to (small, independent or worldwide) tourism enterprises and to governments – to be involved and have deep concern for the multidimensional impacts of tourism and act in adherence of responsible tourism guidelines.
- We as a tour operator, “do our part” by operating our business and organising our tours in a more responsible way. Read more about what we do here.
- However, you as a traveller can also have a significant effect by making your travel decisions responsibly, e.g. considering environmental, social and economical effects of your travel, choosing your destination deliberately and using a responsible tour operator. Read more about what you can do here.
Is it for you?
Responsible travel is a better way to see the world for all those who’ve had enough of the traditional way (i.e. mass tourism) and would rather “be a traveller not a tourist”. However, to be honest, responsible travel is not for everyone.
Responsible is not for you if you prefer international hotel chains (we do not work with them but instead we have lovely local hotel partners). It is not for you if you do not want to mix with locals and do not want to try local foods and follow local customs. It is also not for you if you like big groups, cruises or want to pet wild animals. You will surely not find those in our services.
But responsible travel is for you if you travel to learn about the world, to discover hidden places or to spend time with the locals or you care about the environment and want the people living in your chosen destination to benefit more from your visit.
Sources and for more information about responsible tourism:
- Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism
- Sustainable Tourism
- Responsible Travel and Responsible Tourism
 D. Stanford