Thinking about sustainability is becoming more and more important. From our shopping habits to our diets, there are little changes that everyone can make to help make our world a better place. One of those little changes is being a responsible tourist, and traveling sustainably. If you’re traveling a lot, looking into green tourism and how to practice responsible tourism is important – it will benefit the towns and countries you visit, and you might even find that it makes your holidays that bit more exciting! Here are our tips for responsible tourism . . .
What is responsible tourism and why is it important?
Responsible tourism is travelling in a way that considers the impact of your travels. A responsible tourist will consider the social, cultural and environmental impacts of their actions while away. The overall aim of green tourism is simply to make a conscious effort to positively impact the places you visit.
Tourism can be really beneficial for small towns and big cities alike. But it can also contribute to more environmental damage to communities. And it can even lead to ‘overtourism’. This occurs when a specific destination receives too many tourists. Causing unrest within the locals, environmental changes and economical changes. It can even make the experience worse for other tourists!
To reduce overtourism, and to help boost the communities we visit, it is vital for us all to try to be responsible tourists.
Tips for being a responsible tourist
1. Stay for multiple nights
It can often seem easy to just visit cities or towns for a day. It’s cheaper, you don’t have to book a hotel, and people will often visit a larger city for a short period of time and travel out to the smaller towns for a day. Unfortunately, when we only visit towns and cities for a day, we leave hotels, hostels and bars without any tourists to serve in the evening! This disproportionately benefits the daytime businesses and can cause hotels and other nighttime industries struggling. Besides, you don’t really know a place unless you’ve visited a local bar or restaurant!
2. Support the local economy
When you visit new communities, do you pay attention to where you spend your money? Are you visiting chains that you have back home, or are you venturing into new realms with local businesses? The way that you spend your money on holiday can really help to support the local economy. Skip the chain stores and focus on local markets, stores, and restaurants. Just like us here at the Peatzeria! That way, your money goes straight into local pockets, not some global company.
3. Explore more than just the tourist attractions
We all want to visit the big tourist attractions. It’s what gets a lot of us to travel in the first place. However, there is more to an area than its popular tourist attractions. Often, the best-kept secrets are tucked away and hidden. Before you visit, look online for people’s recommendations of best-kept secrets, or, when you visit, ask a local for tips! You’ll get to really experience a town or city like no other traveller! TripAdvisor is a great place to start.
4. Visit during quiet seasons
Most tourists will visit countries or cities when they’re at their most popular. This might be because of beneficial weather, recommendations, or simply because that’s when they’re able to get time away from their responsibilities. If you can, though, one way to make sure you’re being a responsible tourist is to visit these areas during their quiet seasons. This is an easy way to combat overtourism, and will mean that you don’t have to put up with the ridiculous queues and wait times that come with tourist season.
Not only will this help to reduce overtourism, it will also help to support the local economy throughout the year. When communities have very quiet months and then sudden booms, it can be really unpredictable for the local economy. If more people practice responsible tourism and visit in those quieter months, this inconsistency can be reduced.
5. Use public transport or walk
Areas that experience lots of tourism are often subjected to a lot of environmental damage. This is especially true for those that people can drive to. The fumes from tourist cars can be really detrimental, especially en masse. This is even more important if tourist cities and towns are surrounded by or in delicate ecosystems and environments. If you’re visiting a town or city and hoping to practice responsible tourism, try to limit your use of a car. This might mean travelling there by public transport, or using public transport around the area.
6. Do not litter or harm natural environments
It may sound obvious, but one of the simplest ways to be a responsible tourist is to reduce the harm you cause to local natural environments. You can do so by ensuring that you don’t litter, try not to affect any local flora and fauna, and being careful when you’re in natural environments.
Most of this is common sense, but, sometimes, it’s useful to be reminded. And Islay loves welcoming visitors, especially when they visit us here to taste the best pizza on Islay!