5 steps to responsible tourism

Travel creates memories..travel enriches the soul…travel refreshes the mind and body….well, the benefits of travel are endless. Fast paced stressful lives we lead nowadays are making us realise all the more how imperative it is to take some time out and enjoy with family and friends.

I totally agree. Do you?

I have a friend who is an extremely busy neurosurgeon but literally steals time every couple of months to travel. I feel he suffers from wanderlust but he says that travel is his way of staying sane. Makes sense actually!
I love travelling too and my husband and I are particularly fond of road-trips. Of all the wisdom that I have collected on my expeditions, the greatest one is that travel should be enriching not only for the traveller, but also the places he travels to. So don’t just travel, travel responsibly! How? Trust me, it isn’t rocket science.

Follow these simple tips:
1. Be a traveller, not a tourist.
While travelling, do not rush around seeing things and clicking pictures. Take some time to actually observe the people and customs around. You travel to gain experience, not just to inflate the photo album and believe me, people can be more interesting than monuments. Respect the customs and interact with locals. Conserve their heritage; dress appropriate to the place or better still, dress like them- think of it as a themed party. Eat the local cuisine and buy handicrafts to promote local economy. Let your presence benefit the place.
2. Do not litter
It is sad to even have to mention this but seriously, I don’t know what it is with people throwing away anything anywhere? There are dustbins everywhere but the scraps shall lie anywhere but inside it. Even if there isn’t one, it won’t hurt to carry the empty wrapper till you find one. I see the ‘Swacch Bharat’ campaign has had more impact on the younger generation than adults for my six year old comments every time she someone litter. ”Mom why did this uncle throw the paper? That is bad manners. Does he not know Gandhi ji wants Swacch Bharat? 

3. Maintain sanctity and integrity of monuments
Safeguarding and preservation of heritage sites and historical monuments is our fundamental duty as citizens of India. Yet, not many are dutiful. There is not a single monument where you cannot see displays of graffiti art by lovelorn Romeos or spray painting with paan by considerate citizens who probably thought the wall lacked lustre. How irresponsible is that? On one hand, you are travelling long distances to admire the beauty of the monument while on the other, you show complete disregard while effacing it. The monuments are a part of ‘our’ culture;it is ‘our’ responsibility to preserve them and be proud of them.
4. Respect the ecosytem
When you go on a vacation and spend money to stay in a hotel, it is natural that you want to be pampered. You payed for it! But when you ask for a change of linen and towels every morning, do remember that the ecosystem also pays a price. There are many places, especially hill stations, where water is in short supply. In summers, the situation is all the more difficult. Be considerate in your choices.
When you travel in virgin locales, try to preserve nature:
-Go cycling instead of going on your car. You will be able to explore and discover more.
-Do not trouble animals while visiting sanctuaries and wildlife reserves. You are the guest. It is their home!
-Do not feed monkeys on highways. So many accidents occur due to the same and even monkeys are hurt.

5. Leave footprints, steal memories
It is an old saying but stays relevant. While travelling, you must behave like a responsible guest who cleans up after him. Do not leave behind anything other than your footprints and your visit should not take away from the place anything except memories. 
On a trip to Andamans, I discovered that carrying corals picked from beaches out of Andamans is not allowed. You may buy them from approved stores though. Yet, I saw a lady trying to sneak one into her bag. I wanted to tell her that she would be frisked at the airport and caught, but then thought it was better she learnt it herself.
If you really love travel, it should be like a love affair where you and your destination both respect and mutually enrich each other.
Be the guest who is welcome forever and not the one who forces the expression-‘Good riddance!’
People are becoming more and more sensitive to the idea of #ResponsibleTourism for if responsible tourism is not the future of tourism, there won’t be one!
Be a part of the change.

Happy travelling!
Author’s note: “I am blogging for #ResponsibleTourism activity by Outlook Traveller in association with BlogAdda

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