Guidelines for Responsible Travel
- Journey with an open mind – travel with a genuine desire to learn more about who you meet.
- Appreciate all the cultures you discover. Be aware of the feelings of other people, to prevent what might be offensive behaviour on your part. Be sensitive about photography. Ask yourself why you are taking a picture and would you enjoy being photographed in the same situation.
- Cultivate the habit of listening and observing, rather than merely hearing and seeing.
- Realise that often the people in the country you visit have time concepts and thought patterns different from your own. This does not, make them inferior, only different. Try to understand and enjoy this difference.
- Respect and protect the natural environment. Instead of looking for just “stunning views”, look for the richness of another culture and way of life.
- Acquaint yourself with local customs. What is courteous, in one country may be quite reverse in another – people will be happy to help you. Instead of the Western practice of ‘knowing all the answers’, cultivate the habit of asking questions.
- Remember that you are only one of many visitors, and do not expect special privileges.
- When you are shopping, remember that a “bargain” you obtain is perhaps possible only because of the low wages paid to the maker; sometimes the poorest merchant will give up a profit rather than give up his or her personal dignity.
- Make no promises to people in your host country, unless you intend to carry them through.
- Enjoy yourself, but remember that an extravagant display of wealth is insensitive to local people who may have to manage on much less money than you have.
- Be conservative in your dress. You will get closer to people if you do not look very different.
- Encourage pride in the local culture. Avoid any suggestion that Western culture is inherently better.
- Try not to encourage children who beg by giving them money or gifts. This is the start of a vicious circle. There are other and better ways to provide real help.
These guidelines are based on those suggested by several organisations devoted to the promotion of sensitive tourism. Contact them for further information.
Centre for the Advancement of Responsive Travel
Compiled by Chris Morris – Into Africa UK