In recent years, there's been considerable progress in addressing tourism's environmental impacts, yet little achievement in using tourism for local economic development. In most of the world's economically poor countries there is still much to be done before local people can truly benefit from your tourism spend.
What is responsible tourism?
The Cape Town Declaration of 2002 includes the best definition we can find (and yes, of course, Harold was involved in drafting the Declaration!) - Read More.
`Relishing the diversity of our world's cultures, habitats and species and the wealth of our cultural and natural heritage, as the very basis of tourism, we accept that responsible and sustainable tourism will be achieved in different ways in different places.
Accepting that, in the Global Code of Ethics, an attitude of tolerance and respect for the diversity of religious, philosophical and moral beliefs, are both the foundation and the consequence of tourism . `
The Declaration goes on to state that Responsible Tourism:-
'... minimises negative economic, environmental and social impacts'
(people and places says: "don't pay too much or too little for anything; take only photos from the natural world around you; respect your host country's culture")
'... generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well being of host communities, improves working conditions and access to the industry'
(people and places says: "buy local crafts directly from the craftspeople, not in the foyer of your comfy international hotel, or at the last minute in the airport duty free shop!!!")
'... involves local people in the decisions that affect their lives and life chances'
(people and places says: "ask if the tour company, hotel or nature reserve works with the local people - and if not, ask why not, and find an alternative that does")
'... makes positive contributions to the essential conservation of natural and cultural heritage to the maintenance of the world's diversity'
(people and places says: "do you really need to stay in that all inclusive resort where the trees have been felled to make space for a golf course? is the show you are going to see a true reflection of the local culture? do local people have a say in the content of that show? do they profit from it?")
'... provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connexions with local people, and the greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues'
(people and places says: "take the time to talk with local people and learn about the differences and similarities between your lives and cultures")
'... is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourist and hosts and builds local pride and confidence'
(people and places says: "relish the cultural differences that mean you have to behave differently when a guest in someone else's country")
What is responsible volunteering?
The most effective volunteers work with and learn from the community, showing them respect, helping them carry out their own objectives, offering advice and encouragement, and increasing their capacity to develop their own futures. Volunteers should be a positive presence, a source of inspiration and empowerment. Outsiders who impose their own cultural norms or their own agenda, and fail to include local people in decisions, can leave behind disruption and even destruction, and more problems than they solve, making life even tougher for economically poor people.
We know our local partners - all of them work closely with local people - and they will simply not permit such negative results.
Volunteering can sometimes be messy and frustrating - for your placement to be a success, you need to be clear about why you are there.
. respect the local people . expect the unexpected . . observe without judging . learn as much as possible before you go . remember you are a guest, and will leave . share some of your knowledge with the local people . add some of theirs to yours . then this will have been a meaningful experience for you and your hosts.
read our responsible travel policy