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Responsible Tourism | What’s it All About?


Meet Beth, a student studying BTEC Travel and Tourism at Sussex Downs College. Every week, our Vicky returns to the classroom to teach, talk about and share our passion for responsible travel with Beth her fellow students. Today, in the spirit of showing our Rickshaw support for Travel and Tourism as a subject, we’re sharing Beth’s fantastic Responsible Tourism assignment with you…
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Responsible Tourism | By Beth Mills

“Some may not know what responsible tourism is or what a responsible holiday is. They may not know how many countries are being affected by them going away on holiday. Or the places in the world that are being destroyed by tourists. So what is responsible tourism? What’s happening to our world? How many countries are being affected by this? And would you change your mind on the type of holiday that you go on?

People rice terraces
Local women with staff

Responsible tourism is a holiday in which everyone cares about the destination that they are going on. This can be from the culture to the environment and the local communities to the wildlife conservation. A holiday about respect.

So what’s happening to our world? Are we not respecting other people’s homes? Well the simply answer is no, however we are gaining more knowledge into the industry and holiday-goers are becoming more aware.

Obviously with anything there are positive and negative impacts. You may think you are doing the right thing but actually you are keeping what could be a thriving destination back from tourists to visit.

One thing that tourism does is loses the cultural identity of a destination. You could be sitting in a hotel surrounded by imported products from countries much more well off then the country that you are visiting. This could result in countries becoming displaced, locals not knowing when their home is going to be destroyed by a big chain hotel coming into the country. Money not coming with them because all of it will be going straight back to America, Britain or wherever the hotel company is situated. And yet in Kenya 87% of tourists go on all-inclusive holidays and yet over half of local people live on less than $1 a day. Is this right? Why are locals so poor when there are so many tourists? It because of big hotel company’s and holiday tour operators.

Local woman and child
Local with buffalo

By not being responsible we are losing natural habitats. This isn’t just about losing little beetles and insects, but the homes of animals and living organisms. Would you like it if you were told to leave your home so that a hotel could be built? Congestion and pollution. What do you think this is doing to environments that haven’t been touched for hundreds of years? It destroying it. Locals will want to get out of the country they’ve called home because it won’t be that after tourists claim it.

The locals won’t have much choice to leave if they are only living on $1 a day. As soon as tourists and big chain company’s get in there, everything will be more expensive than $1. Living costs will increase considerably, locals won’t be able to cope. You may say “yeah but if we come in, then there will be employment for locals”. Well yes that is true but will you only be visiting the country when the weathers good. Seasonal unemployment will happen and everyone will be back to what it was before but with big, empty building placed everywhere.

Locals with llama
Local boys

That is what tourism does to destinations and people’s homes if you’re not responsible. Now read the following.

If you take the responsible tourist view when going on a holiday you are not only helping the destination that you are visiting but you will probably come back thinking that it was the best holiday that you’ve had, because you’ve seen the true country and not the tourist view of a country.

Staying in accommodation like this will not only help the economy, because you are paying the locals to stay on their land but also will help the environment. When on a responsible holiday you could be buying off beach traders, like in Mombasa. The Travel Foundation have helped over 572 beach sellers along beaches in Kenya. They help locals increase their skills so that they can display their products better and sell them with much more ease. When buying of a beach seller you know that the money will only be going to them, and that the materials used were local too. This will preserve the crafts of the locals and they will be able to keep making and selling these to other visitors.

Woman with locals
Man rolling tobacco

If foreign currency exchanges have to happen within the destination like in Cuba, then the destination will get all the money rather than just a percentage.

Wildlife will be kept in their natural habitat, this will result in no change and everything will grow and carrying on as usual.

However there can be positives to tourists coming in, without destroying the country. The hotels will want fresh produce and the place that they will first ask is the locals, whether that’s through farming fruit, veg or fish. If when tourists go to a country to visit and they are being responsible and buying products from locals, which are locally made then it will increase domestic income.

Locals market
Trekking local guide

Environmental and cultural education will occur because tourists will want guides, and who better to do these but local people. This also means that employment will increase.

By letting some people into destinations, then improved infrastructure will start to happen. This will allow more and more tourists to be able to go to that particular destination. The improved infrastructure will also help in the communities facilities. However this can’t get too big because otherwise it will turn into a negative and the responsible tourism that it started as will turn to tourism.”

Beth is studying for a BTEC in Travel and Tourism at Sussex Downs College.

“I would like to travel to Australasia, because there is an opportunity to experience diversity of cultures. There are coastal, city and countryside destinations all within one continent. The weather is a huge plus! I decided to study Travel and Tourism because I had an interest in working in an Airport and learning about different cultures around the world.” – Beth