The world is our oyster. But as we all travel around the world more, the world gets more hurt.
While traveling brings about tourism, it is precisely because of this correlation that the world is endangered. Tourism can bring about irreversible negative environmental, social and economical impacts, and we are being destroyed by the minute every day.
Sustainable Tourism is hence so vital in protecting this world we live in, and that means we should be considerate and only positively impact the places we visit. With the recent decision made by Italy to restrict the number of visitors to its gorgeous Cinque Terre evokes even more sentiments about tourism sustainability.
All of us have a part to play in this world – you and me, we are all responsible for this very world we live in. And when we travel, we ought to be responsible travellers too.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Government organisations are more often than not the biggest stakeholder in tourism, and it is with constant and concerted effort that everyone fights to protect their countries’/ cities’ heritage places. It can be a temple, a museum, a park, a building or even a whole island.
Funds are managed and awarded to the various places that deserve preservation and conservation. The selection process happens once a year, and places are selected based on their natural and cultural importance to the country/ city and humanity.
Italy is home to the most number of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
With the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, these monumental places that carry heavy importance and significance are protected and preserved, and all that we enjoy today can too be enjoyed by many more generations to come.
We are stakeholders of our world too. Whether we are living in our homeland or visiting a country/ city, the saying goes, “the objective is to create a better place for people to live in and to visit.”
Responsible tourism is displayed through our behaviour. While it all differs from individual to individual, the rationale stays – to make positive contributions to conversations, and to minimise social, economical and environmental damage.
There are many ways to being a responsible tourist, and the list starts now.
DO NOT LITTER
Well, this is basic. You do not even do this at home, so why do it at someone else’s home?
The dustbin may be a kilometre away, but walk anyway. Dumping your rubbish inconsiderately and illegally is the darnest thing you could ever do to this wonderful world that shelters you and comforts you, so do not litter wherever you go.
Let the world continue to shine in its full glory.
CONSERVE WATER AND REDUCE ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION
We are somehow guilty of taking luxurious showers when we are in a foreign land, even more so if we are putting up at nice accommodations.
The logic stays – if you do not do it at home, then don’t do it at someone else’s home.
Shower as you normally would. Skip the bubble bath. Switch off the tap fully. Flush with consideration.
As with electricity. Switch off the lights before you head out. Unplug your charging devices when you are done with charging. And switch on only what is necessary.
To be culturally sensitive wherever we go means conducting ourselves and respecting the locals’ way of life, traditions, practices and beliefs.
We should not make the locals feel invaded, nor threaten and change their lifestyles.
A greater understanding of a local culture will also benefit our travels as we can positively interact with the locals – to better understand the place, to respect their cultural expressions and to appreciate all that they endorse and live by.
This will, too, enhance the overall host-tourist connection – which in turns encourage sustainable tourism.
SUPPORT THE LOCALS
There are many ways to support the locals and its community, so as to keep their life cycles going. This is also a form of cultural preservation, and it brings about positive economical impacts to the place.
It may be crafts that are locally produced, it may be a meal at a local restaurant, or it may be a form of performing arts. Whatever they are, it is always lovely to support the locals – within your means, of course. Whether is it a hand-sewn pouch, a dish that is prepared with only locally-farmed crops, or an ethnic dance put up by the kids of the village, tourism can be bring about positive contributions just like that.
YOUR SOUVENIR MAY BE A DESTRUCTION
It is alright to pick up fallen maple leaves and dry them up as souvenirs, but it is not alright to fill your bottle with sand from the beautiful beach that you just visited. Sometimes, we do not think too much of the souvenir that we decide to bring home, and this can be extremely detrimental.
Stop and think if what you are about to bag home is going to make a difference to the place. Like the gorgeous flower that you see en route to your destination? Or the seashells along the coast? The best way to remember that wonderful sight is to capture it on your camera.
They belong where they are, and their beauty is only to be admired, never to be claimed.
This is definitely important, especially if you are visiting somewhere religious or conservative. Cover up when roaming around sacred grounds, and respect the community.
Similarly, dressing up is a form of respect, and if the locals dress a certain way/ with a certain style, take a leaf and follow suit.
SPEAK WITH THE LOCALS
Learn all you can about the place that you are visiting. Learn about their history, learn about their environment, learn about their lifestyle, learn about their prohibitions.
It is through learning that we can truly appreciate the way life is – all its rawest forms and nakedness. We are all inherently different, and through our differences, we cross paths and meet; our acquaintance will bring about amazing social impacts, and it is this bond that will make the world go round.
Melody is the other half of Ladyironchef. While she seeks solace in traveling, she does not forget to love and protect the world. She has a keen interest in cultural and performing arts, and is sometimes lost in the beauty of history. London is where she longs to move to, and someday, she will spend her mornings practising yoga in Hyde Park.