6 Shining Examples of Responsible Tourism Around the World

Few things can make me as furious as when just another photo of someone holding a seastar is posted on social media. Did you know that there are whole areas in different parts of the world named ‘the sky’, ‘the heaven’, ‘the starry skies’, El Cielo (for example in Panama), ‘Estrella’, etc. which are named so because of the huge population of seastars? And do you know how many of them are literally empty with no seastars anymore? And that result came after the sole purpose to show off to their friends on Facebook holding a beautiful sea creature! So if you don’t agree with killing stars and want to be more responsible towards our planet, keep on reading. In this article, we’ll share a few good examples of responsible tourism around the world.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of good news. We’ve asked fellow bloggers about their best practices of responsible travel. In the spirit of responsible tourism, not only individuals but also many destinations are taking steps to make the world a better place. These efforts can include educating tourists about local culture and language, e.g. learning the local language to be able to communicate (even haggle when necessary). Moreover, the transportation used during travel contributes to up to 72% of CO2 emissions, so it is important to explore places on foot and take advantage of inexpensive public transport or the inventive modes of the local people. Similarly, it is important to avoid wildlife products and illegal trade because these are fuelling the illegal and destructive trade of endangered species and contributing to the deterioration of their populations.

Now let’s get to community tourism, eco accommodations, and sustainable destinations as examples of responsible tourism around the world.

Panama San Blas Guna Yala village

Community tourism

More tour operators are embracing the concept of community tourism. The goal is to benefit local communities while creating unique tourism experiences for travelers. Community tourism is not without its challenges, however. Community-based tourism often results in elitism or leadership conflict within the community. In many cases, powerful local elites take on leadership positions at the expense of the entire community. Community-based tourism can also result in conflict over resource ownership.

Erhai Lake, Dali, China

The concept of community-based tourism originated from the desire of tourists to travel like locals. They want to learn about the culture and traditions of the area they’re visiting. They’re also concerned about sustainability and want to bring welfare to local communities. There are many examples of community-based tourism. But how does it work? And how does it differ from mainstream tourism? Here are some examples:

Community homestays in Nepal

In Nepal, the World Wildlife Fund worked with the community of Shivadwar Village to establish a sustainable homestay business. They were worried that wild animals were damaging the crops in the surrounding villages. They teamed up with Intrepid Travel Company to apply for funding through a Business Partnership Platform. The result was a tourism development model that saw thirteen out of 34 homes in the community operate as homestays. The income generated from the homestays goes directly to the local families, so the project is helping both communities and travel businesses thrive.

We stayed with a family in Tansen, Nepal, as part of a community homestay project and part of a pre-mart tour at Himalayan Travel Mart 2019. Not only did we learn a lot about the customs and traditions of the region, but we also connected with our host family on such a deep level, even with being there just for a few hours. This experience made the whole trip more profound and much richer.

Community homestay in Nepal: experiences Nepali culture in Tansen, Palpa
Community homestay in Nepal: experiences Nepali culture in Tansen, Palpa

Sharing the story

Another common method of community tourism involves staying in local communities and sharing the stories of the local people with travelers. It’s a sensitive form of tourism that should be carefully considered. The key to community-based tourism is building trust and collaboration with the community. The community-based tourism model should include the local community as a key element of the experience. The tourism industry is supposed to ensure that the profits go directly to local families.

Shopping local

The first thing to do is to learn as much as you can about the culture of your destination. If you buy souvenirs, ask if the artisans use local materials, and if so, how much of their profits go to the local economy. If you can, also share stories with local people. By doing so, you’ll be giving the locals a glimpse of your culture and contributing to its economy. But you don’t have to be an activist to be responsible – you just have to be aware of the laws and regulations of your destination, be willing to exchange experiences, and empathize.

Things to do in Pokhara, Nepal - shopping
At a local market in Pokhara

Eco accommodation

An eco-hotel, or a green hotel, is an environmentally sustainable hotel or accommodation that has made important environmental improvements to its structure in order to minimize its impact on the natural environment. The basic definition of an eco-friendly accommodation is an environmentally responsible lodging that follows the practices of green living. These accommodations have to be certified green by an independent third party or by the state they are located in. Traditionally, eco-hotels were mostly presented as ecolodges because of their location, often in jungles, and their design inspired by the use of traditional building methods applied by skilled local craftsmen.

Lapa Rios Lodge, Costa Rica

The Osa Peninsula is a lush region located in southwestern Costa Rica, near the border with Panama. This tropical region of Corcovado National Park is a rainforest, considered the most biologically intense place on Earth. It has two distinct seasons: the dry season from December to April, and the rainy season from May to November but the climate is warm year-round. The Lapa Rios Lodge offers ecotourism excursions in a variety of locations, including the secluded Papua National Park, a rainforest reserve. If you choose to visit Lapa Rios during the sea turtle nesting season, you can even help shepherd the baby turtles to their safe haven.

A small cute red eyed stream from in the Monteverde national park, Costa Rica

The name of the lodge refers to a group of macaws gliding in tandem. They focus on the conservation of the region’s wildlife. It is a good example of responsible tourism around the world. It has won nearly every conservation award imaginable and its commitment to sustainability and community involvement have earned it a spot on National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World list.

Lapa Rios Lodge, Costa Rica

Six Senses resort, Fiji

Another example of responsible tourism done by a big luxurious hotel chain is the Six Senses Resort in Fiji. The resort uses sustainable practices to run. Solar energy is used for electricity, and rainwater is filtered. It also practices recycling and reusing materials, and supports local communities. It’s not just the people’s health that is at stake, but the environment as well. By following the principles of responsible tourism, tourists are not only contributing to the health of the local population but also to the health of the surrounding environment.

Six senses resort, Fiji

Sustainable destinations

A sustainable tourist destination addresses the demands of the tourism industry and the host communities. Visitors and host communities have all benefitted from sustainable practices in the area. The environment has been a concern for many decades, but its widespread adoption only recently gained momentum. Sustainable practices are designed to preserve our planet and our natural resources. The goal of these sustainable tourist destinations is to address the needs of the visitor and the community while addressing social and economic implications.

Bhutan

An example of a responsible tourism destination is Bhutan. This beautiful country has taken the initiative to charge tourists a daily tariff. These fees pay for their transportation, accommodations, guides, and meals. They also donate 30% of their profits to the preservation effort. Additionally, the country’s government works hard to keep the country clean and crowded and pays fair wages to the people working there. Its regulatory system ensures that hotels are always equally filled.

Bhutan - the magical monastery Tiger's Nest

Aruba

Sustainable tourism is not just a trend in the Caribbean anymore; in fact, the island nation of Aruba has made it one of its top priorities. Not only is this island nation famous for its beaches, idyllic island views, and unique culture, but it’s also taking a proactive approach to fight climate change as it threatens Aruba’s existence and its citizens’ livelihoods.

To protect the island’s fragile ecosystem, the Aruba Tourism Authority has committed to sustainable marketing. Aruban businesses are now offering reusable water bottles, and distributing towels made of recycled plastic collected by fishermen. Additionally, the island has banned single-use plastics such as plastic straws, cups, utensils, party balloons, and takeaway food containers. And even when the island’s tourism industry isn’t concerned about the environment, they’re taking proactive steps to protect the island’s culture, economy, and people.

The Caribbean region is a global leader in tourism, but the region is struggling with over-tourism. Even worse, this problem is escalating in small islands, where tourism is the main industry. Rising socio-ecological pressures, coupled with enduring social vulnerabilities, threaten to destabilize already fragile communities. While most Caribbean islands have their share of tourism development, some stand out for their commitment to responsible tourism. The island of Aruba is an excellent example. They have several environmental programs aimed at protecting the environment – for example, the Eagle Beach Area Coalition is spearheading a monthly keep-the-beach clean initiative, and the Donkey Sanctuary supports Aruba’s donkey helped by volunteers.

Pink flamingos, Aruba
Photo by Lex Melony on Unsplash

Those were just a few examples of responsible tourism – how we can engage more as tourists but also how companies and destinations can contribute to sustainability efforts. What is the last example of responsible tourism you noticed during your travels? Let us know!

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