What Does Responsible Tourism Even Mean?
By Parker Diakite
A report done by Expedia revealed that more than 30 percent of Americans are inspired by social media when booking a trip. In other words, a simple photo or video has the powers to influence millions.
The problem with social media’s influence, however, is that cities become oversaturated with tourists looking replicate that same exact experience. As a result, cities are trying to combat the negative effects of over-tourism.
The discussion is evolving and one term that keeps coming up: Responsible Tourism.
But what does that even mean?
Responsible Tourism is defined as “making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.” Responsible Tourism requires shareholders, including governments, local people and tourists to take action to make tourism more sustainable.
As travelers, the first thing to remember is to be respectful.
“You must have respect and consideration. Don’t trample all over the place,” Dr. Colin Nicholas coordinator for Center for Orang Asli Concerns told The Star Online. “Remember that you are entering someone’s home. Imagine if someone comes to your house, and start behaving badly. Would you like that?”
Nicholas added the importance of interaction between the community and travelers.
“The whole idea is for visitors to learn from the community. Unfortunately, most trips to the settlement don’t give much chance for hosts and travelers to interact with each other,” he stated. “Responsible tourism requires you to engage with the community, not just take photos.”
In addition to respect and interaction, the most important action that tourists can take to ensure responsible tourism is supporting local businesses.
“Tourism is often cited as being the most important employer in tourism destinations and, therefore, a force for good,” leaders from United Consulting told Africa.com. “Responsible tourism is about putting people in the destinations first. Their livelihoods, their landscapes, their learnedness, and their living culture.”