Until a couple of years back, I did not have this craze for travel. I like travelling. But not too often. During the last couple of years, many people have taken to traveling. Apart from the tourism departments advertisements, umpteen travel blogs, those travel related posts on social media have become the catalysts. I have come across n number of posts that conclude, if you don’t travel, you haven’t lived.
Frankly, I do not believe in the mantra. Each person’s passion differs. My point is, in this process, almost all have taken to traveling without even considering how it affects them, the people around them and also the places they visit.
Many of us (including me) are irresponsible about our surroundings and the habit grows and goes with us. To become a responsible tourist, we must first become a responsible citizen:
- Avoid Littering – I have discussed about my endeavors to stop littering in this post and I still stand by my words. If we are used to throwing garbage anywhere and everywhere, we’ll tend to do the same if we visit tourist spots, no matter how clean they are.
Responsible Tourism – Always carry extra covers. Whenever you have to dispose waste, put it inside the cover, carry it until you find a garbage can. A few hours of trouble carrying these bags will leave a better Earth for the next generation.
- Respect their culture and laws – We grow up in a culture of our own and when we come across someone who doesn’t respect our culture, or someone who misbehaves, we get offended. Remember that it is a universal phenomenon.Responsible Tourism – Understand the basic etiquette of the place you are visiting. Ensure that you do not disrespect their culture. If their customs require you to behave in a certain way, as long as it isn’t harmful to anyone, act accordingly. Know about their religion, their rules and if possible a bit of their language too. This will only improve your relation with them and make your trip more memorable.
- Avoid Destruction of Property – I have noticed writings, scratches, obscenities and etchings on the public transport, public places etc. Too many of them. Anyone who has done it will have the tendency to do it again. With time, it becomes a habit and whether or not you are in your home town, you will continue doing it.Responsible Tourism – Start from home. Start now. Try to consciously refrain from etching or drawing on benches, walls, buses, near urinals or any public places. If you are so fond of scribbling, carry a notepad and a pen. Scribble your heart out. Parents, please watch your kids and stop them when they damage any public property. If you stop them now, they wouldn’t get habituated to it.
- Do not let your liberty get in the way of others’ liberty – When you are on a tour with friends, your voices tend to raise. You might have some drinks with them and forget your surroundings. You have the freedom to enjoy. But you must ensure that your enjoyment doesn’t cause any nuisance to the residents of the place. Or your home laws shouldn’t be in conflict with theirs.Responsible Tourism – Point 2 holds good here too. Learn about the place you are visiting. When the matter concerns about any tricky laws, do your research. Keep your voice and actions in check always.
- Photography – It is the era of selfies. We take selfies anywhere and everywhere. A trip – selfie. A get together – selfie. Washroom – selfie. Messy hair – selfie. No hair – selfie. Sad – selfie. Fever – selfie. We are so habituated to pulling out our phones every now and then that we don’t consider, even for a moment, whether photography is allowed in that area. There are many places around the world where photography is prohibited and we must ensure that we don’t violate the rules.Responsible Tourism – Be aware of your surroundings. Lookout for boards that prohibit photography. If there are none & if you feel that photography might be prohibited, have the courtesy to ask the authorities.
- Be Aware of the Pollution Caused – Globetrotters and those who travel on a constant basis might be aware of the carbon emissions caused by their travel. But, the ones who use airplane on a constant basis may not be aware of the pollution that airplanes cause. It requires a huge amount of fuel for hurling the luggage, people and the airplane in itself at high speeds. Though not visible, the resultant emissions are highly toxic.Responsible Tourism – In case of road transport, use public transportation as much as possible. This reduces the resultant pollution at least to a small extent. While going on international tours, plan trips in such a manner that you use airplanes minimally. For instance, instead of visiting three countries during one vacation and then visiting all three again in the next, ensure that you visit one place at a time, go to all the major tourist spots therein and then return. You will have more time and better knowledge about that country. This is what we call Responsible Tourism.
Finally, take a pledge to be a responsible tourist. For this, one must begin at home. Vow to be the change and practice these little things while you are in your hometown. Gradually, you will get used to it and the good habits will resurface while you are on tour too. There are many others who watch you and sub-consciously imbibe lessons from your action. Let the lessons be good, motivating and inspiring. Be a responsible tourist not through words, but through your action. For actions speak louder than words.
Image Courtesy: zedge.net