I love to travel; that’s my great passion. And responsible travel, for me, is the most enjoyable way I’ve found to travel because it brings me closer to local people and local cultures. But it also does do in a more respectful way and it shares some of the benefits of tourism more widely with local communities and it minimises some of the negative impacts that tourism can often have. It’s not perfect; all tourism – no matter what type – has positive and negative impacts What responsible travel and tourism does is maximise the benefits of tourism and reduces some of the negatives. Essentially there’s 3 types of benefits and problems that tourism can create. The first one is economics. What we’re trying to do is increase the spread of the benefits of tourism into local communities so more of th ecost of your holiday stays in local people’s hands The second area is the environmental area. And, of course, what we’re trying to do is reduce water use, eneregy wastage; we’re trying to support local conservation projects; we’re trying to avoid pumping sewage out into beautiful bays. The last area is the cultural impacts of tourism. I think we’ve all seen places which have been swamped by tourism and the culture’s been damaged. And how tourism can run rough-shod over local cultures and local peoples. Tourism is absolutely vital to the economies of many countries around the world. The World Tourism Organisation says that 1 in 12 people are directly or indirectly employed in tourism and the countries that are doing best; the places where we all want to go are, in fact, developping countries. For them, tourism is one of the most important industries. Not only that, but many of the conservation projects around the world both natural and cultural heritage are funded through income from us; from tourists and the tourism Pound or the tourism Dollar. So tourism’s very important for livelihoods, for communities, for jobs, and for conservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world. Responsible tourism, for me, is a more enjoyable way to travel. Essentially because I travel to discover things about places and to have experiences. And when I go to Africa, rather than zooming around in a mini bus, with a guide from England, what I prefer to do is to go walking with the Maasai. Bacuse that gives me an insight into their lives; they teach me tracking – they’re the best trackers in the world and I know they go home having earnt a bit of money from tourism. Or when I stay in the UK, I’d rather go and stay in a beautiful organic farmhouse and go out and spend time with them, learning a little bit about how they produce food, as well as kicking back and relaxing because that, for me, is learning about places and people and that’s what I love about travel and tourism. It’s the heart of it for me. Responsible tourism, because it’s built around this idea of ‘local’ – local experiences, local produce, local guides, local experiences – distinctive places, learning about what makes places different and magical. That’s why it’s such a wonderful way to travel. The types of holidays I suggest that people think very carefully before they take are the ones in which – in a stampede for profits – local people and environments are completely run over and destroyed. It’s that single-minded pursuit of the tourism Dollar at any expense, which I think causes the biggest problem for local people and for destinations. And in some cases the holidays are designed in such a way that most of the money doesn’t end up in the tourism destination. It leaks out and it comes back home with the tour company and the travel agent or the airline. And those holidays do very little for local people except for damage their cultures and environments. Those are the holidays that I think more of us should be avoiding. My tips for tourists in terms of travelling responsibly are this. First of all, if you’re travelling with an organised tour company, make sure that company has a policy for responsible tourism. If you book it via us you can guarantee that that’s the case. And secondly, if you’re travelling either with one of those companies or independently is to think local. Think small-scale; think local. Stay in a locally-owned accommodation, eat in local restauarants, get off that beaten path and discover what is magical about those places. And travel with respect. Because travelling with respect earns you respect. Read up on local customs and cultures; you’ll be more informed, you’ll learn more, and you’ll avoid any potential problems that you might create for local people. so, travel with respect earns you respect; think local about everything you do. You’ll have a wonderful time and a more enjoyable holiday.
But you’ll also not fall foul of any problems with local cultures or people.