10 myths about responsible tourism


Many people perceive responsible travel to be about paying a lot of money to stay in a mud hut on a deserted island somewhere in the middle of nowhere. But taking a responsible holiday doesnít need to be like this. Here we take some of the common myths about responsible travel and expose the truth!

1. It's all organised tours
Many of our holidays are organised tours, but if thatís not your thing there are plenty of other responsible holiday ideas on our site. We have a selection of self-guided trips; shorter, one or two day tours; and lots of accommodation around the world so you can plan your own independent adventure and still have a thoroughly responsible holiday.

2. You have to rough it
Not all responsible holidays are about sleeping under the stars or staying in homestays with the locals. Luxury holidays can still be responsible - quite often more so than budget trips. If you would like a comfortable holiday with a bit of luxury then we have a great selection of holidays for you to choose from. Whether you are travelling on your own or with your family, looking for a bit of culture, safari or a beach holiday we work with a range of tailormade and luxury holiday companies that can help you find your dream escape. And they arenít all luxury beach resorts (although we do have a few!); we have some really unusual adventures that will impress your friend such as hot air ballooning in Turkey or a tailor made trip to Eritrea.

3. It's expensive
This is possibly one of the greatest misconceptions about responsible tourism - but it doesnít have to be expensive. As many of the communities we work with are in rural and agricultural areas even a small amount of tourism bringing in a small amount of income can really benefit the community. We have a wide range of responsible budget holidays including accommodations, safaris, cultural and adventure holidays. Our budget holidays include inexpensive versions of the classic holidays such as hiking the Inca Trail, walking along the Great Wall of China and sailing round the Galapagos islands - as well as more unusual holidays such as sea kayaking in Croatia or raking a train across Vietnam. We also have some unusual budget accommodations such as a retro caravan park in the Pyrenees and a homestay accommodation in Thailand. Whatever your budget and your requirements, we should have something that appeals to you. And donít forget, if you find something that seems close to your requirements but isnít quite right, make an enquiry anyway as our operators might have the perfect trip just waiting for you.

4. It's all about remote, developing countries
Responsible travel is about your and the tour operator's actions and behaviours rather than where you go. It doesn't matter if you visit Europe, the United States or Ethiopia, you should be equally as careful with your waste, respectful of the local culture and your visit should benefit the local community. We have holidays in countries all over the world from Austria to Zambia and Alaska to Vietnam, so you can take a responsible holiday wherever tickles your fancy.

5. You can't be a responsible traveller in the UK
If youíre not keen on flying, fancy a shorter break, are on a tighter budget or if youíre trying to reduce your carbon footprint by reducing your air miles then we have a great range of responsible UK holidays for you to choose from. Holidays closer to home are great for the environment as you don't need to fly and holidays in rural areas can really benefit struggling communities. Many people often overlook the UK as a holiday destination as itís not exotic enough - or they want guaranteed sunshine or snow. But thereís so much to see in the UK that there's sure to be something a few hours away by car or train that takes you completely away from your daily life - all without needing to remember your passport or worry about losing your luggage. We have great UK accommodations, including tipis in Wales, a houseboat in Devon, and a lighthouse in Scotland.

6. It's all work and no play
Responsible tourism isnít all about volunteering, living off lentils or enduring cold showers. While volunteering can be a great way to contribute to conservation projects and community development, many people prefer the concept of "trade not aid", and by staying in locally run guesthouses, eating at independent restaurants and visiting national parks and wildlife reserves where your entrance fee contributes to conservation, you are putting your cash where it's most needed - without needing to spend any of your precious holiday time working. As long as the holiday company is running the trip in a considerate manner, you can enjoy anything from a small ship cruise to a tranquil yoga retreat, cross country skiing to a scuba diving - all with plenty of local benefits.

7. It's not for anyone over 40 - or for children
Many people want to take their children on holiday somewhere a little different to the classic crowded Costas. Our responsible family holidays range from relaxing breaks and baby-friendly accommodation to full-on activity and adventure holidays. We also have holidays that will keep teenagers entertained and a range of holidays suitable for single parents.

Many gap year and longer overseas volunteering placements are targeted at people in their 20s but most of our holidays are in fact suitable for people of all ages. If youíre keen to travel with people the same age as you, just ask the holiday company about the average age of the group - or whether you're likely to be travelling with solo travellers, couples or groups of friends. They're always happy to share information.

8. It's not responsible if you have to fly
Many people think that any holiday that involves flying is immediately bad for the environment and therefore canít be responsible. At Responsible Travel, we believe that being responsible is about far more than carbon emissions. By using local guides and accommodation, buying locally-made handcrafts and visiting protected areas, you can bring income to remote or rural communities that mass tourism rarely benefits. You can also demonstrate the benefits of conservation - as areas teeming with wildlife will bring in many more tourists - and income - than deforested areas or those which have been poorly preserved.

9. A city break doesn't count as a responsible holiday
Even trips to cities can be responsible. Our city breaks stay in locally owned accommodations and show you the culture and heritage of the city. Whether you are looking for a weekend in Barcelona or a few days in Helsinki, our city breaks, tours and accommodation offer responsible options for those looking for a classic short break.

10. Resonsible tourism doesn't really benefit anyone - it's all just marketing
'Greenwashing' is a real problem - with responsible holidays as well as with many supposedly eco-friendly items. However, there are many genuinely responsible alternatives, and ultimately, we believe itís a better way to travel. Responsible tourism increases the positive impacts and minimise the negative impacts on local communities and landscapes. Responsible Travel is committed to the cause and we give regular donations to charity. We only advertise holidays that benefit and bring employment to the local community, as well as take the local habitat into consideration - either through minimising negative impacts, or actively promoting conservation. This means that all of our holidays are responsible in many different ways; from a community run camel safari in Tanzania that finances local building projects to an English B&B that uses solar water heaters. Whatever your budget and requirements, you can travel responsibly.
Written by Justin Francis