The term ‘Responsible Tourism’ was coined in 2002, defined as ‘making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit’. For many of us, there is an increasing realisation that we have a responsibility to ensure that our trip does not negatively impact the destination we are visiting, both environmentally and socially. Especially in the wake of Covid-19, it is important to ensure that we are enjoying new places and experiences in the most responsible way possible.

Safe and Sustainable Journeys

Increased hygiene and security measures mean that air travel now takes longer and is more cumbersome. However, you must follow these measures properly. Remember to follow any guidelines that the airport suggests such as social distancing, wearing masks or increased hand sanitisation. While these measures can seem inconvenient, by following them, you’re doing your part in keeping everyone around you safe, and crucially you are helping to keep the country you are visiting safe as well.

Being a responsible tourist in the ‘new normal’ also means being up-to-date with essential news about travel restrictions, destinations, and what to expect during your trip. Once you get to your destination, think about how you can travel sustainably. Where possible, travel by road within countries to avoid internal flights, but where unavoidable, use airlines that offer carbon offsetting.

Ethical Trip Activities

When choosing activities for your trip, make sure you do your research. This is where the Elite Concierge steps in. With local knowledge of each destination, we can help you plan a well-balanced itinerary that respects and honours local traditions and culture. While it can sometimes be tempting to pick the cheapest tour or just visit the top recommendations on the internet, to travel responsibly, you should try and use organisations that are run ethically. Are they treating their workers well? If animals are involved, like the domestic elephants in Thailand, are they cared for ethically? Is everyone working thereof legal age, and are their working conditions fair? By picking the activities you choose to participate in with care, you are showing that you support responsible tourism. The Elite Concierge only ties up with third-party companies that follow the highest standards.

Ethical elephant sanctuary in phuket thailand

Respect Local Culture

When visiting local sites, whether religious, historical or scenic, make sure that you are respectful and non-disruptive. What you might see as a pretty photo opportunity might be a sacred shrine for the community. Read up on local traditions before you travel, ask the Elite Concierge for tips on dos and don’ts, and make sure you try to be as non-disruptive as possible. Your attire plays a large role in this. Do check with your Villa Manager or the Concierge on the appropriate attire for any activity that you may choose. Check the list of banned substances or activities and refrain from indulging in the same.

Temple in Tabanan Bali

Support Local Communities

The key here is to spend your money to support local communities and the destination’s economy. Asia offers varied and delicious cuisines, and you may want to use your trip as an opportunity to try a tasty gua bao rather than buy a burger from a fast-food chain. Avoid purchasing items from global chains that may remind you of home, and instead choose smaller local establishments. Buy gifts directly from craftsmen, like the handwoven hammocks made by Muntigunung women of Bali, so they get the money that the middleman will make. You can leave knowing that you’ve both bought a genuine item and supported a local family.

Responsible tourism is a way of life, a shift in thinking. A little bit of compassion goes a long way in ensuring that we can enjoy the beauty of the world more sustainably.