As a tourist, it’s easy to want to see as much as possible and check everything off your travel bucket list. But did you know that your presence in a destination can greatly impact the lives of the people there?
It’s important to be a responsible tourist and think about how your visit can positively (or negatively) affect the people and places you’re experiencing. Here are some tips for how to maximize tourism to support people.
Research before you go.
Before booking your trip, take some time to research the destination. Read articles, watch videos, and talk to people who have been there. This will give you a better understanding of the culture and what to expect. It’s also important to research the company you’re booking your trip with to ensure they have a good reputation for being respectful and supportive of their local communities.
When booking a tour, it’s important to be sure that the company you’re working with focuses on small towns and villages. This is important because it helps to support the local economies and keeps money within the community. By choosing a company specializing in these areas, you’re helping to ensure that your tourism dollars go directly to the people who need it most.
For example, if you’re planning to visit Colombia, you may consider touring Guatape. This small town is located in a rural area of the country and is home to vibrant colors, beautiful scenery, and friendly people. Guatape has become an increasingly popular tourist destination and is seeing tremendous economic growth due to the influx of visitors.
Spend your money wisely.
Where you spend your money makes a big difference. Try to patronize local businesses as much as possible, whether eating at a locally-owned restaurant or buying souvenirs from a local artist. This way, you know that your money is going back into the community instead of lining the pockets of a multinational corporation. It also allows you to experience unique and authentic products.
You can also buy handmade souvenirs or support businesses that give back to the community. For example, if you’re looking for a souvenir from your trip, consider buying a piece of local art rather than something mass-produced.
In addition, when eating at local restaurants, be sure to order food that is traditional to the area. This helps to support the local cuisine and encourages the preservation of traditional recipes. It can also be a fun way to experience the culture of the destination you’re visiting.
Be respectful of local customs and traditions.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do! When traveling to a new destination, it is important to research the area’s customs and traditions. This will help you to be aware of what is considered appropriate behavior and will help you to avoid any embarrassing or offensive situations.
Sometimes, it may be necessary to adjust your behavior slightly to respect the area’s customs. For example, in many Asian countries, it is customary to take your shoes off before entering a home. If you visit someone’s home, take your shoes off and leave them at the door.
Other customs you should know including how to dress appropriately and behave in public. In some cultures, showing too much skin or laughing loudly in public is considered disrespectful. Be sure to dress modestly and respectfully and obey any signs or instructions about public behavior.
Give back where you can.
If you’re able, consider giving back while you’re on your trip. Every little bit helps! And who knows, maybe you’ll find that giving back is its reward and decide to continue doing it even after your vacation.
There are several ways to give back while on vacation. Here are a few ideas:
- Volunteer with a local organization. This is a great way to get to know the community and to help out in a meaningful way. Many organizations usually need volunteers, so it is sure to fit your interests and schedule.
- Pick up trash on the beach. This may not seem like much, but it can make a big difference. Not only will you be helping to keep the environment clean, but you’ll also be helping to discourage others from littering.
- Donate money to a local charity. Many charities work specifically in developing countries or with marginalized communities. By donating money to one of these organizations, you’re helping those who need it most.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your presence as a tourist positively impacts the people and places you visit. Responsible tourism is good for those who live in popular tourist destinations and for you as a traveler because it allows you to have a richer, more authentic experience. So next time you plan a trip, keep these tips in mind and enjoy responsibly!