Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Responsible Tourism

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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.

3.  No Littering! – Plastics have done a lot more harm than good ever since their invention. But if we are careful we can leave environmental footprints on the sand of time! Never ever litter. Carry your thrash, specially plastics and papers in a separate pocket of your backpack maybe and dispose it in a recycle bin. Sea, Land, water bodies everything would be a lot less polluted if we did so. Think of a beach with clear water and clean sparkling sand and a beach with well just brine water and bottles, polyethylenes, garbage and God knows what all. Which one would you prefer? Your answer is your clue to work towards it. Only if all of us try will be get the choice right? A lot of places have a no plastic policy (I know Matheran in Maharashtra has for sure). Respect such laws and do not try to be a rebel. Recently we saw images of ‘Everest the dumping ground’ circulating online. We sure don’t want such adverse scenarios now do we? Think and act because what you sow, so shall you reap.

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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
5.  Conscience Indulgence. Like I had mentioned earlier Tourism is one of the major GDP contributors for a lot of countries so for obvious reasons many people directly or indirectly depend on the tourism for survival. So when in a tourist destination, bargain and shop without exploiting the sellers. I agree that local prices of touristy places are usually very high and bargaining becomes a mandate but at the same time we, as travelers need to be sensitive too and not overdo it. Also never indulge in buying products which are obtained from endangered plants or animals. Doing so would hopefully help to lower the demand for illegal goods and save nature, preserving the ethnicity of the place. And what place can be of the travel grid when it is known for its rare flora and fauna?

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.

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I know I got really serious in this post. Though, I am blogging for #ResponsibleTourism activity by Outlook Traveller in association with BlogAdda, I decided to write this post for what I believe in too. Hope we all enjoy the wonders of our wonderful world responsibly.


  1. lovely writing Vaisakhi... and it is so important to bring out these facets of tourism if we are to preserve what we have... well done :-) and all the best...

    1. True to protect we have to be concious and make other realize important details of responsible tourism too. Glad you liked the post :)

  2. that was a nice read...loved your thoughts

  3. Another good post and pictures Vaisakhi :). I also follow your poems which are really good :)..