There are numerous accounts of where tourism has destroyed the original reason why people came to the destination in the first place the opposite of Responsible Tourism. The natural progression for a tourism destination involves one of low impact moving into mass tourism then the demand from tourism destroys the main attraction. Examples include the Pyramids in Egypt which are eroding away due to tourists or the great barrier reef which is dying with a large proportion of the blame being laid at the feet of the tourists themselves.
So what is Responsible Tourism???
Responsible tourism is tourism that strives to minimize its impact on the environment, to respect local people and cultures, to offer economic benefit to local businesses and communities, and to provide a memorable experience for travellers and protects destinations for future generations. Using small-scale lodging, local transportation, supporting locally-owned businesses, and incorporating community-based ecotourism projects into tours are some ways travel can work towards sustainability.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) provides a conceptual guide for the sustainable development of all tourism:
Responsible tourism development guidelines and management practices are applicable to all forms of tourism in all types of destinations, including mass tourism and the various niche tourism segments. Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability.
The UNWTO provides further guidelines at unwto.org.
Ecoteer Responsible Travel endorses the Global Responsible Tourism Criteria, an international initiative to create a common understanding of responsible tourism. Four main themes drive the criteria: effective sustainability planning; maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community; enhancing cultural heritage; and reducing negative impacts to the environment. To learn more or download the criteria go to the Global Responsible Tourism Criteria website.
How is Ecoteer Responsible Travel practising Responsible tourism?
The Global Responsible Tourism criteria can be segmented into fours easy to answer questions. All Ecoteer Responsible Travel packages must adequately answer the following questions:-
1. Does the project have a clear aim?
Without a clear and concise aim a project will not be focused and ultimately fail to fulfill its intended purpose therefore making efforts by the project largely obsolete;
2. Does the package have a low tourist impact?
Small tourist numbers ensures minimized negative social and environmental impacts. The small group sizes ensures greater involvement and connection time per tourists with the local community and/or environment maximizing enjoyable, meaningful holiday experiences;
3. Does the tour package contribute to the local community?
With each tour locally owned accommodation and restaurants will be sought and a stated proportion of your fee will go towards the local economy ensuring your dollar goes to the hands of the people and animals who need it most;
4. Is there an element of environmental and/or cultural conservation?
On each tour you will be introduced, and where possible, asked to embrace the local culture of the people you visit, building an understanding and respect between the tourist and the host community. On many of the tours, particularly the voluntours, you will actively partake in social or environmental projects helping to conserve the culture and environment which ultimately are often the purpose of your travel in first place.
It is important to know that the projects associated with Ecoteer Responsible Travel are run 100% independently and Ecoteer Responsible Travel are providing them with the opportunity to be able to achieve their aim more efficiently.