In the past couple of years, responsible travel has become the “new” trend in travelling. While marketing campaigns have long touted ‘destinations’ — travellers are simply entering a place that is someone else’s home.

If those working in the tourist trade embrace the values we wish developed, then we can make a huge leap forward. The trick lies in listening to locals and visitors to create the opportunities that connect top-down and grassroots efforts. Travel agents, travel providers and travellers are the principal players.

Here’s my thought: responsible tourism is treating others the way they wish to be treated. This is a variation on the Platinum rule … it’s also common sense and good manners.

A growing number of travellers want their journeys to be less invasive and more beneficial to the local community. They want to better understand the culture of the people they meet in the places they visit. Visitors should be mindful that we are entering a place that is someone else’s home. Sounds complicated? Try this — imagine what irresponsible travel looks like and then imagine its opposite.

TRENDS

We ask a lot of tourism these days … that it be eco-friendly, that it be sustainable and that it be responsible. These signs are encouraging. Global tourism is experiencing a massive transformation in the 21st century. Travellers and locals are seeking ways of building constituencies with the shared goal of making tourism more responsible.

Toward that end we propose connecting the natural and virtual worlds. Live Local. Think Global. Respond personally.

Says noted author and activist Deborah McLaren: “Responsible tourism is based on ethics and human rights. It also means support for community-based travellers’ programs, including homestays, guest cottages, ethno-museums, and educational programs that bring tourist dollars directly into communities.”

TOWARD CONSERVATION

Responsible travel means extending solidarity over time. Efforts that exhibit continuity make poor situations better and good situations great. How to stay in touch? As Rob Brezsny writes in Pronoia, “Choose worthy targets and ransack your imagination to come up with smart, true and amusing praise about them.”

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