Green travel, sustainable tourism – oxymora? How does world’s largest industry cope with environmental challenges, such as climate change? Which tour operators, hotels and other travel services are leading in sustainable tourism and eco friendly travel? As an avid traveller and a graduate in tourism management, these and similar questions have been on my radar for a long time.
Responsible Tourism was defined in the Cape Town Declaration as about “making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.” Responsible Tourism requires that operators, hoteliers, governments, local people and tourists take responsibility, take action to make tourism more sustainable. Characteristics of responsible tourism include:
- minimising negative economic, environmental and social impacts;
- generating greater economic benefits for local people and enhancing the well-being of host communities, improving working conditions and access to the industry;
- involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life changes;
- making positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world’s diversity;
- providing more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues;
- providing access for physically challenged people;
- being culturally sensitive, engendering respect between tourists and hosts, and building local pride and confidence.
The Associazione Italiana Turismo Responsabile‘s members give us another definition: “Responsible tourism complies with the principles of social and economic justice and exerts full respect towards the environment and its cultures. It recognises the centrality of the local host community and its right to act as a protagonist in developing a sustainable and responsible tourism. Responsible tourism actuates to foster a positive interaction between the tourist industry, the local communities and the travelers”.
There are many definitions that match with the diversity of cultural, political and economical contexts in the world. Often, only some criteria above-mentioned are fulfilled. In these cases, it is more correct to talk about “responsible tourism“, “ecotourism“, “cultural tourism“, “community tourism“, “sustainable tourism” and ” fair tourism.” Not only can they all mitigate effects on cultural, economical, social and ecological conditions, but they can improve them. (Text adapted from this awesome initiative).
Featured image courtesy coocparisienne, pixabay.com