How to be a Responsible TravellerSeptember 4, 2017
At their 70th General Assembly, the United Nations declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
“This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision-makers and the public, while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change.” – Tourism for4Development
There is more to travelling than seeing the sites. It’s about challenging yourself, learning about the world and connecting with other people. Now more than ever, it’s so important to shift the focus of travel towards sustainable tourism. Currently, tourism contributes to roughly 10% of the world’s GDP and it is estimated that 57% of international tourist arrivals in 2030 will be in emerging economies. Essentially, tourism plays a vital role in developing countries in terms of creating employment, reducing poverty and encouraging sustainable economic growth.
As travellers, it’s important that we understand the significant role that we play when making decisions around our trips. Everything from which destination we visit, to where we stay, to what we do and buy while there, has an impact.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when travelling:
Choose sustainable accommodation
Once you’ve decided on your destination, choosing where to stay is the next big decision. Many camps and lodges in Africa are actively taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint, as well as being involved in local community upliftment projects. Choosing accommodation that embraces sustainable tourism is one of the first steps to being a responsible traveller.
Support local shops and restaurants
When shopping, try and support the smaller businesses that are run by local people. Eat at a local restaurant instead of a commercial chain-restaurant, or simply buy your souvenirs from a street market instead of a supermarket. This injects money directly into the local community, rather than the hands of businessmen and shareholders.
Think before you act
Wildlife tourism has always been a huge business in Africa. Many people have exotic dreams of riding an elephant or petting a lion. Unfortunately, the majority of operations that offer these sorts of animal interactions are highly unethical and profit-driven. Doing the necessary research before visiting or supporting an organisation is vital.
Be wary of volunteering
While we are all for travellers wanting to make a difference in the world, volunteering isn’t always the best way to go about it. Unless you possess some serious skills that are needed by you’re the place you’re visiting, you may be doing more harm than good. If you don’t teach English or build hospitals in your home country, you’re likely not qualified to do in Africa either. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t any organisations worth supporting. In fact, quite the opposite! Just make sure to always do thorough research and ask them questions if you can’t find the answers yourself. Pack for a Purpose is just one example of an excellent initiative that is actually helping communities all over Africa.
If you would like to learn more on how to be a responsible traveller, then get in touch with us. We’d be happy to give you some advice, or help you plan your perfect African holiday.
Contact Us About A Safari