What is Responsible Tourism?
Responsible tourism should be the goal of every tourist to leave a place better than they found it. In order to do that, waste must be mitigated, money must be spent in the right way, and the cultural identity of the local populations must be preserved.
As the responsible tourism infrastructure is put into place, individuals will have more choices to healthy alternatives of existing tourism practices. The responsible tourism infrastructure is based on individuals making informed decisions about what it means to be a tourist. Responsible tourism starts with the individual. There are various ways in which individuals can practice responsible tourism.
In one example, visitors from a developed nation spent money on a tour through the countryside of a developing nation and inevitably pointed out the plastic filled rivers. They mistakenly place blame on local peoples and the country itself for lack of aesthetic values and sanitation concerns-not for the lack of infrastructure.
Tourists feel that when they take a tour things should be tidy and organized. Plastic in the river is something that always catches the eye. In reality most of that plastic is there because of tourism. Tourists demand bottled water and overly packaged goods as a hypersensitive reaction to sanitation. They demand a vast amount of disposable items as a matter of convenience and mobility during travel.
It is important to understand that while your economic input into a community is a general benefit, there are potentially negative effects as well. Tourists tend to view themselves as economic saviors, helping locals as they spend their money. It is not enough to spend money on vacation without thinking about your true impact on the landscape and people of that community. This negative spiral can be fixed with responsible tourism.
Building the Responsible Tourism Infrastructure
The Responsible Tourism Infrastructure is the backbone of our proposed model of tourism. In order to have responsible tourism worldwide, there must be a process that allows a traveler the option for choosing the responsible route. As of right now, that process is a hodge podge array of loosely connected (if connected at all) locations that have some green businesses that allow travelers who want to leave a minimal carbon footprint the ability to do so. In most locations the traveler is left to search out the greener options at the risk of destroying a day of travel to find good quality water not served in plastic.
A unified, seamless and easily recognizable program specializing in responsible tourism is our goal. This program will specialize in respective locations with the goal of guiding tourists to seek out authentic cultural experiences, make wise purchases, and provide alternatives to the environmental waste issues.
“Travel is an extraordinary pleasure and was once a priveledge. Now it is considered a basic right without limits or a sense of responsibility for how all this travel is affecting the places we love.” - Author of Overbooked: the exploding business of tourism travel.