Travel used to play a big part in history and is still important today for the global economy, cultural exchange, world peace, as well as personal development. Thanks to the growth of the tourism industry, visiting an exotic place has become much easier and more affordable. Tour companies now offer a wide range of trips to suit various tastes, interests, and budget and many people are inspired to explore this fascinating planet.
When on vacation, most of us don't seem to be mindful of the negative impact we have on a destination, including its people, culture, economy, and environment. This is why it is increasingly important to travel responsibly. Responsible travel, simply put, is to travel in a sustainable way that benefits the place we visit, minimizing negative impacts on the local community, culture, and environment. Here are 6 reasons why it is necessary to travel responsibly.
1. Responsible travel does good to the local community
When we are fascinated by a place, it is important to remember that it is the local people that shape the color, smell, and personality of that place and make it interesting to visit. As a result, we need to give back to the local community rather than just take.
Responsible travel focuses on improving the well-being of the local community, most often in developing countries. When done properly, responsible travel can benefit the local people immensely especially in underdeveloped areas. By choosing local guides, eating and drinking local brands, staying in locally owned hotels, and buying local produce and souvenirs, our tourism dollars go directly to the local community and help them thrive. Responsible travelers also avoid driving hard bargains which may affect the livelihood of the vendor as they understand what an extra dollar means to the vendor.
Shopping for local produce can be good a way to lift the local community out of poverty
2. Responsible travel respects and protects the local culture
The distinctive local culture can be one of the most important reasons that draw travelers in. If we love the local culture, we should try our best to preserve it.
With the world being globalized, local cultures face the risk of disappearing as the younger generation appear to show more interest in Western pop culture especially dances and music, but a lot less in their own ones. Luckily, as more and more travelers are learning to appreciate the local festivals, food, art, dance, and music, local cultures are likely to survive in the globalized world. Responsible travelers help keep the local cultures alive by tasting the local cuisine, learning about its various arts, and shopping for local handicrafts created by local craftsmen and respecting local traditions.
The National Painting School in Bhutan provides courses that instruct Bhutan's 13 traditional arts
3. Responsible travel helps fight global warming
Responsible travel has an important role to play in addressing global warming. According to UNEP (the United Nations Environment Programme), up to 14% of global greenhouse gas emission comes from the tourism industry, and if we do not take any action, tourism-generated greenhouse gas emission will be times higher by 2035. Fortunately, we can all do our part to stop or at least slow down global warming. We can minimize our carbon footprint by traveling light, taking the most direct flight, buying carbon offsets for air travel, and using train travel wherever possible.
Train travel can be a better option when it comes to cutting our carbon footprint
4. Responsible travel helps save wildlife
Most of us love wildlife, be it birds, dolphins, elephants, pandas, tigers, etc., but our human activities such as over-fishing and over-farming have threatened their habitat which provides them food, water, shelter, and space, reducing their population.
The good news is responsible travel can help protect the habitat by creating sustainable income for the local people so that their livelihood does not have to solely rely on farming which damages the natural habitat of wildlife. Take the non-profit Sam Veasna Center in Kompong Thom, Cambodia as an example. The reserve offers wildlife spotting tours to grasslands where several threatened bird species inhabit. The local communities receive a considerable amount of income from the tourist fees through their contracts with Sam Veasna Center. The grassland would have been cultivated to grow rice if not for the wildlife viewing program. Similar cases can also be found in Nepal, India, and Africa, which shows our human commitment to protect wildlife through responsible trips.
Chitwan National Park protects a great number of endangered species such as one-horn rhinos and royal Bengal tigers
5. Responsible travel makes travel more enriching and fulfilling
Knowing that our responsible way of travel can make a big difference to the local communities, cultures, and environment will make our travel more enjoyable and meaningful.
Responsible travel encourages us to be a traveler instead of a tourist. As a saying goes, a tourist sticks out, a traveler blends in. Travelers enjoy immersing themselves in each destination they are visiting, getting to know the locals and their way of life and embracing cultural differences. And they return home with the best souvenirs — interesting stories, knowledge, and understanding of different places, people and their cultures. Why not discover more about this fascinating world through responsible adventures?
Odyssey guests were learning to grow organic rice from local farmers in Luang Prabang, Laos
6. Responsible travel makes travel more sustainable
So many of us love to travel, to experience unique cultures, natural landscapes, and wildlife of different places. But if we stay unmindful of our negative impacts on them and do not take any action to preserve them, all of these may be damaged or even disappear. And once lost, they are lost forever. Without responsible travel, tourism is unlikely to be sustainable.
Also, think about our children and our children's children, how can we show them a beautiful world if we fail to protect these natural and man-made beauties? Only in pictures! We need to take responsibility for a destination we travel to, its people, culture, and environment. It is a commitment both for us and our future generations.
Preserve the beautiful beaches for our children
If you were inspired and shared the thought, spread the word so that your friends can be more responsible travelers too. My Odyssey Tours takes responsible travel seriously and you can rely on us to tailor-make a responsible tour for you.