Let us accept it, all of us love travelling. Be it touristy places, offbeat places, just weekend getaways in relaxing resorts or camps. We all might have a wide range of choices, likes and dislikes but some form of travel has a sure presence in our ‘Favourite things’ list. (Think of the Sound of Music song) But how many of us see beyond our comfort and enjoyment while travelling? Travel industry is one of the major contributors to any countries GDP, thus major contributor to World growth too. But is it a sensitive field? Exploring places and marking them off our bucket list sure is a source of bliss for us. For many people it is about the adrenaline rush, for many it is the tranquillity and for many the connect in the disconnect. But for all this do we as travellers or tourists (yes both are different) tend to be annoying for someone else or something else? Most often than not we do cause we do not realize the importance of responsible tourism and thus lose out on global sustainability of travel and connect.
Today I am just going to talk about some things we need to keep in mind as travellers and tourists.
1. Connect with people – Did you know a lot of places, including India, are not very popular with travel communities on couchsurfing and Airbn? The reason is simple we are not very accommodating as guests or hosts. For the travel connect, we don’t just have to connect to a place but also build a relation with the people. Being a good guest is as important as being a good host. As travellers we need to respect the culture of the place we are visiting. For example a lot of countries are warm and welcoming but have a certain set of rules and beliefs that travellers should take care of. (Turkey, Italy and Japan are quite famous examples – just Google away) And one point we should always remember do not, I repeat DO NOT click pictures of people if the community is uncomfortable with photography or without their permission or ORDER them to click your picture. Request. It always works.
2. Respect nature and mould yourself into it – Some years back, Leh Ladakh used to be an offbeat destination. Soon tourism caught up and it was a good thing because it gave Ladakhis a very good source of income and improved the area’s employment rate. But with this perk came some grave issues. People forgot the fact that Ladakh receives very low average rainfall and is almost a cold desert with water scarcity. The hotels under the pressure of tourism provide water at the expense of the daily supply of the natives. Imagine if people used the water available carefully and not spend it like luxury, the natives might suffer less right? It is always important to alter your habits to fit in the environment of the place. Eco-travel is a mandatory rule one should follow while travelling.
4. Laws, Rules and Regulations – Since I mentioned the No Plastic rule, I had to mention other rules people try to break in the name of fun. Loud music, beyond permitted range and permitted time mark; Photography in no photography zones; bribing to get around law to visit sensitive areas without right permits; and alcohol consumption and smoking in areas where it is not permitted. Thinking how this would help in sustainable travel? Following/Not following these rules sets expectations and view of your community in the tourist area. Also at times it might not just be risky for you but for the place. And responsible tourism is all about not being bothersome, so well, if you do not follow the rules of the place you are being irresponsible right?
|Do not buy products obtained from endangered animals - Eg. Rhino Horns|
Maybe all this seems insignificant on paper but believe me – A beautiful world is not just Nature’ creation for us to enjoy and exploit. A beautiful world is a responsibility, a treasure we have to guard and if possible, help grow. Responsible tourism for sure is the need of the hour if we want the next generations to enjoy our world beyond age old photographs.