Travel and tourism boost local economies, and if done sustainably can even help preserve indigenous ecosystems and cultures. The term ‘responsible travel’ refers to travel that inspires and fuels sustainable tourism practices. Here are 10 tips on how to travel responsibly during your future trips.
Minimise your eco-footprint
A two-week trip to a new destination might include indulging in new and exciting activities. And enjoyment of these activities could include daily consumption of plastic water bottles, straws and non-recyclable materials. For an eco-friendly holiday kit, pack along a bamboo straw, reusable coffee cup and water bottle to reuse to your heart’s content. The use of some non-recyclables might be unavoidable, but with just those three items you’ll have a cleaner eco-footprint and reduce your non-reusable waste footprint.
Explore closer to home
Travelling in and around your continent can reduce air mileage and as a result the carbon emissions of that trip. Guests travelling from within the continent tend to want to stay for longer and can do so because of the reduced travel time and expense. This translates to extra downtime and the freedom to explore more of the attractions within the area.
For example, not only do guests of the newly opened Radisson Blu Resort Mosi-oa-Tunya get to enjoy the resort itself, but they can also discover the wonders of Zambia’s natural beauty as it’s the perfect base from which to explore surrounding attractions. Guests staying for longer often opt for carbon-friendly walking or bike tours of the Victoria Falls National Park, which offers a more intimate experience of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Choose accommodation that works with the surrounding communities
Aside from being an opportunity to relax and recharge, travel is a means of discovering and showing appreciation for new cultures. Look out for cultural villages or cultural tours facilitated by local culture experts. Not far from the Kruger National Park’s Kruger Gate Hotel is the Kruger Cultural Village which offers a rich showcase of Swati, Ndebele, Shangaan and Zulu cultural heritage. These activities help to give back to cultural preservation and create sustainable employment. Additionally, Kruger Gate Hotel often does a number of outreach programmes with the local communities, while also recruiting the majority of their team from surrounding areas.
Choose an hotel that is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint
By choosing to have your stay at an establishment that is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint, you’re automatically embarking on a more responsible travel journey. The Radisson Hotel Group advises looking out for vacation spots that use renewable energy, promote recycling, and actively contribute to water conservation. The group itself is also dedicated to being net zero by 2050. In South Africa, many of the group’s properties are already contributing to this goal through sustainable energy practices, reducing water use, and environmentally friendly building practices.
Eat local produce
In line with cultural heritage activities is the support of local entrepreneurs. By eating local produce and goods, you might give a boost to the area’s agricultural sector. Locally produced honey, indigenous foods and fruits and vegetables are great items to consider enjoying during your travels. Look out for foods that are not imported and opt for meal times at local restaurants or snacks purchased from roadside vendors over store-bought goods.
Most travellers look forward to interacting with indigenous wildlife for a new and exciting experience in a new area. However, not all animal facilities are conservation centred. “Ask your hotel concierge for the parks and wildlife centres that work to conserve the area’s wildlife and have them assist you in booking experiences that will fuel the growth of these facilities,” says Yusuf Jinoo, Head Concierge at Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront in Cape Town. “Concierge’s often know what the top activities are and will be able to advise on which ones are more environmentally friendly”.
In some areas, sustainable projects like Cape Town’s Oranjezicht City Farms Project allow travellers to sign up for mid-week volunteer days. Volunteer activities can also include donating to local charities, reading stories to school children, sandwich-making for local schools or organisations, or helping to plant indigenous trees in and around the city.
If you are not able to take local food and produce home with you, consider shopping for clothes, and arts and crafts made in the city in which you’re travelling. Many goods produced within South Africa for example, carry a proudly South African label. This means that local manufacturers are supported instead of large-scale mass-produced or imported manufacturers.
Ethiopia’s soleRebels shoe brand was recently hailed as the world’s first World Fair Trade Federation and Fair Trade footwear company, just an example of the plethora of environmentally friendly clothing brands across the continent.
Share with friends and family
If you’ve decided to embark on a journey centred around responsible travel, be sure to let friends and family know about it. After learning about the benefits of concepts like eating locally, lowering personal carbon footprints and supporting conservation, talk to those around you to tell them all about it. Once you return from your journey, send pictures and videos of the local vendors and shops you supported so that those in your community know where to find them should they visit the same places.
Be respectful and kind
Last but not least and perhaps the most important, be respectful and kind! We travel the world to set our sights on new horizons, but also to allow locals to experience our own culture. By being kind and respectful of the area you visit and its people, we might elicit a willingness or curiosity for others to visit the area you come from among those you meet along the way.
So wherever you travel this year, be sure to learn a few phrases like please, hello, goodbye and thank you in the local language and teach others how to say the same when they visit your city.