Wednesday, July 24

What Is Ethical Travel?

With more people deciding to go travelling than ever and heading to destinations further afield, it’s important to consider and respect the religion, cultures and traditions of different countries. Ethical travel is something that is gaining more and more traction and encompasses the intention of, rather than just visiting a destination and leaving, looking to have a positive impact on both the wider and local communities. 


Tourism is a huge driver within the global economy and, since the end of the pandemic, countries have seen a surge in tourists. Other than the economic benefits, travel has the potential to have positive effects and impacts, social improvements and boosting of cultural structuring of the host country. But, not everyone benefits from this boost in revenue equally, and most local people and businesses miss out. This is where ethical travel comes in. 


What Is Ethical Travel? 

Ethical travel, also sometimes known as responsible travel, means that travellers are to be mindful of the consequences that travel and tourism have on the environment, as well as people and animals. It’s being aware of the impact that a tourist has, as well as the potential of being able to make a positive or negative impact, and using this awareness to travel in a way which brings advantages to the local community. 


Whilst many won’t realise that there are cons of travelling, there are some bad sides to travelling. This is particularly true in less-developed countries and nations, where the negative impacts of tourism can be felt more heavily. Tourism can put a strain on the economy, which further worsens poverty and inequalities. Other negative effects of tourism can include environmental damage, including the damage or removal of land, mistreatment of animals and exploitation of vulnerable people, including children. 


Overall, generally speaking, it is the locals who are the last to benefit from tourism, but are often the ones who make travel and tourism the memorable experience it is for travellers, all whilst making it economically viable for their country. This is why travellers must have a better understanding and awareness of religious, economic and political issues which are going on in the country to which they are travelling. 


Why Tourism Is Important

Tourism is one of the biggest economic supporters, particularly for low-income countries. This revenue, ideally, should be put towards things such as nature and environmental conservation, infrastructure development and business opportunities. As well as the economic benefits, travel and tourism is a great way for people to embrace and experience different cultures, make new friends and broaden their horizons. For the locals, they benefit from new job opportunities, learning new skills such as languages and the improvement of their livelihoods. 


Another interesting perspective is that travel and tourism help to preserve culture, heritage sites and natural resources. Most people will travel to experience new cultures and places, which is why tourism boards want to promote and maintain their country’s culture, traditions and customs to attract tourists. Whilst travellers can’t do much to decide how revenue is distributed in a country or the intricacies of how the tourism industry works, they can help contribute to change. 


Tips For Travelling In An Effective Way

When it comes to travelling, we make the decisions for where to go, what to do and where to stay, eat and shop. This means that we have the power to make better decisions about these things and where our money goes. For example, if you’re getting some essentials, is it better for you to spend money at a supermarket, or a local corner store or vendor? Would you rather your money go to wealthy chain owners or small family businesses? 


Any money that you spend when travelling will contribute to that country’s economy, which should then ideally filter down to the smaller businesses, but this doesn’t always happen. This is why learning some tips about travelling effectively and ethically can make a huge difference in the lives of local communities. 


Avoid All Inclusive Holidays & Luxury Resorts

Although All-inclusive and luxury holiday resorts seem to offer it all, there are some reasons why this way of travelling is unethical. Often, these resorts are owned by wealthy people from other countries and this means that most of the revenue generated from the resort will benefit the economy of their home country, rather than the country in which the resort is located. 


All-inclusive resorts also have all meals and drinks covered, meaning that there is less reason for guests to venture out and visit local bars and restaurants, which would help to support business owners and help revenue grow. Instead, look for ethical travel companies, or look to book direct with small business owners.


Take Trips Off The Tourist Track

Every country has their hotspots that tourists will usually visit and, whilst this is great for those communities, this doesn’t help spread the revenue to businesses across the country. There are always alternatives to popular tourist attractions, often offering better experiences or more intimate or smaller groups. By choosing less touristy places, you can then support smaller communities and economies which, otherwise, might not be as supported as their larger counterparts. 


Volunteer With Ethical Providers

If you’re planning on combining travel with volunteer work, then it’s worth researching volunteering with ethical providers. Some of the large volunteering schemes aren’t as community-focused as they seem, compared to the smaller providers who are directly involved with communities. Social volunteers can help to make a difference in villages and towns and can help to support projects such as local villages, women empowerment, school and facilities building, teaching English and helping out at orphanages. 


You should be wary of volunteer organisations who charge large amounts, as there have been many findings that a lot of the leading names are involved in the exploitation of vulnerable groups to make a profit. Always make sure to research the volunteer project you are considering joining. 


Respect Local Cultures and Religions 

It’s important that, when you are travelling, you are respectful of the local cultures and religions. A lot of travellers when going for a short break or a fortnight holiday forget to bear this in mind, particularly when visiting certain locations and countries. It’s important to remember that when you are visiting or travelling to another country, it is expected that you, as travellers and guests to that country, will pay respect to their cultures, religions and beliefs. For example, when visiting Arab or Muslim countries, it’s important to wear the appropriate religious dress when visiting places of worship or certain locations, such as hijabs or loose clothing that covers everything but the hands, feet and face.