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  • Writer's pictureMary Ann Issac

Responsible tourism vs. Sustainable tourism

Updated: Aug 29, 2020

Often people get confused by the two terms, and wonder what they mean, or whether they are the same. I want to break down responsible & sustainable tourism as I understand it, and hope that it helps those who are reading it as well.

Responsible tourism is about making a place better for people to live in, and thereby making it a better place for people to visit.

This can’t be done without a collective effort from all stakeholders- locals, tourists, hoteliers, travel companies, and governments, to take action to make tourism more sustainable.

Sustainable tourism is the goal that is to be achieved through responsible tourism.

Both ‘sustainable’ and ‘responsible’ travel are sometimes used interchangeably, and in its essence they both have the same idea behind it. But, sustainable travel cannot truly be achieved if responsible tourism is not a priority for local stakeholders like hoteliers, governments, tour operators, locals, and other travel service providers. These local stakeholders have to set up a framework where sustainable travel/tourism can flourish.

Wondering how you can travel sustainably? Check out all the things I do!

What can be done to ensure the propagation of responsible tourism?

-The local framework for tourism should involve the local community in decisions that affect their lives, livelihood, and the ecology that they are a part of.

-The government & local bodies should positively contribute to the conservation of cultural heritage, and of the natural surroundings.

-A destination should also be made accessible to people who are physically challenged.

-Governments & local bodies should run awareness programs to promote the respectful treatment of foreigners/ tourists, so they don’t face any sort of harassment when touring the town/city.

-The experiences created for tourists should be aimed at enabling a meaningful connection with the local community, and foster a better understanding of the social, environmental, & cultural issues of the destination.

How can you travel responsibly?

-When you plan for your next holiday, choose experiences that are positively impacting the local community. Be aware of the impact your trip (i.e, your stay, the activities you choose to do, your interactions with the local community, the wildlife, or even the natural surroundings) is having. Consciously choose a trip/experiences that minimise any negative impact to the local community & wildlife.

-Choose hotels, travel operators/ activities/experiences that directly benefit the local community.

-Choose activities/experiences that enable you to make meaningful connections, and when you leave, you have a better understanding of the social, economic, cultural, & environmental issues of the place.

-Be aware of & respect the culture/traditions of the place that you are in.

Read the story of a tribal woman in Wayand, and my encounter with her.

And when you travel responsibly, you are contributing to a sustainable system of tourism, that positively impacts the local community, biodiversity, & culture.

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