People are at the heart of the responsible tourism movement.
First and foremost, as soon as you remember that you are visiting people’s homes, and see them as hosts rather than homogenous holiday providers, you become more responsible tourists. By respecting people who live in the places you visit on your travels, and engage with them in an open, dignified way you are opening yourself up to the possibilities of more heartfelt holidays. You will learn why the Maasai elder became a conservationist rather than a poacher. You’ll see a Catalan person beam ear to ear when you shake their hand, look them in the eye and say ‘bon dia’ in Catalan. You will hear a Botswanan safari guide serenade you with songs as he pushes you in a dugout canoe across the Okavango Delta. Or watch a Keralan mother prepare a packed lunch for her son, and kiss him goodbye before he goes to school. It’s the everyday stuff that moves us on our travels.
Some aspects of tourism invoke more emotions than others of course. The obvious disparity in wealth is one. The exploitation of children is another. The crushing of a community or culture can also be devastating. And the recovery of communities such as Nepal after the earthquake, Sri Lanka post tsunami, Bosnia Herzegovina post conflict or indeed Greece, still mid economic crisis, is humbling to witness. But also imperative to support. And responsible tourism companies – the likes of which we are proud to represent on our website – certainly do support, by tapping in with communities, be they farmers, hikers, cyclists or homestay owners. Many also establish foundations to help communities through charitable donations, not just tourism income. They have done the groundwork for you, and all you need to do is travel there, meet the people, smile and say hi. The rest is up to you.