With the recent worldwide pandemic that affects the world tourism industry, and the way society views this problem, felt that this does not limit only to travelling but it is binding closely with social aspects. Hence, I would like to share my personal view and information on how to be a responsible traveller, not only to the environment but also to the social, economic and culture.
Keep calm and travel!
What is a Responsible Traveller?
Responsible traveller aka “responsible tourism” means to be socially and culturally aware when you travel by understanding your effect on the places you visit and trying to make that effect a positive one.
Being Responsible Traveller is not that difficult as what others might view, it is simply by doing a little from your part by supporting the local people, respecting their culture and not making too much pressure to their homeland.
Here are the 10 ways that we are able to do as a responsible traveller:
1. Understand the local culture and language
Before going to a country, study and get to know more about their local culture, and also learn a little about the language of the country where you will be visiting. Example, Hi, Thank you and Goodbye.
2. Respect other culture and custom
When you are at a country where you need to visit the shrine or a temple, please be properly dressed before entering.
Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves (no tank tops). If you’re wearing sandals or flip-flops you must wear socks (in other words, no bare feet.)
Women must be similarly modestly dressed. No see-through clothes, bare shoulders, etc. If you show up at the front gate improperly dressed, some of the temple or shrine will provide clothes or sarong (long skirt) for you to cover you up properly. Do check on their website or to read the sign and instructions before entering.
3. Shop Locally and support family-run businesses
When you shop locally and supporting local brands/ family-run businesses you are helping the country economically.
And by choosing to sleep, eat, and travel like a local you will be supporting the local economics.
4. Maintain Good Personal Health and Hygiene
As international travel can pose various risks to health, depending on the characteristics of both the traveller and the travel. Serious health risks may arise in areas where accommodation is of poor quality, hygiene and sanitation are inadequate, medical services are not well developed and clean water is unavailable.
It is good to get yourself travel insurance and also maintain good personal hygiene or vaccines that are necessary for your trip.
In due with the recent outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China and also worldwide. It is important that tourists follow the recommendation of the WHO and their own national health authorities. Be Responsible and inform themselves before they travel in order to limit the threat of transmission.
Source: UNWTO Official website
5. BE environmental friendly
Reduce the use of plastic bags, get a shopping bag to pack your own goods.
Photo: Boba milktea cup holder that can be found in Taiwan.
6. Reduce Carbon FOOTPRINT
Travel more via public transport instead of taxis you can choose to take a public bus or train to your next destination.
The best way to discover a city is on foot. Getting lost through the street is a way to explore the city or the place locally.
7. Eat Local Food
Eat local cuisine not only the food are delicious, but it also supports the local economy. As local eatery uses local ingredients and produces, workers, restaurant owners and food culture.
When visiting a place, eat from the locally run restaurants, street food stalls, and markets.
Photo: Okonomiyaki that is found in the Southern part of Japan.
8. RESPONSIBLE TOUR OPERATORS
If you are travelling with a tour operator, do some research on the company, does it reflect some of your own value or beliefs. What attractions do they visit? What type of transport do they use? Do they do practices like elephant rides or lion walks, or have they signed with any wildlife protection bodies?
If you are interested to know about what a responsible travel company do visit Responsible Travel.
9. SUSTAINABILITY/ECO-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION
Stay at a sustainable or eco-friendly accommodation. Do a little from your part by reusing towels and not changing sheets every day during your stay.
10. Say NO to ANIMAL TOURISM
Most of the animal attraction actually pose some threat to the animal. So what are the activities that are a big NO-NO? This includes riding Elephants, Elephant ‘sanctuaries’, Tiger temples, swimming with dolphins, animal performances, hunting etc.
If you are interested to get up close with the wild animal, I would suggest that you do thorough research on the company you sign with.
Only support those company or attractions sites that are truly ethical.
Join the tour in New Zealand to see the dolphin and understand more about marine life:
I do understand that in this period of time people will feel more reluctant to travel and uncertain if they should go ahead with their holiday planned months ago. What I feel is that during this period where there is still uncertainty going on, it would be better not to fly. However, if you are required to do so, please maintain good personal hygiene by wearing a mask in the plane, and if you are not feeling well, do visit the doctor instead of going ahead with your trip.
And there are increased in racist remarks and stereotyping going on around the world, travellers were told to defer or not to visit “certain” country unless necessary. I hope that people can be more accepting and understand that not every “Asian” eat bats *roll eyes* some of us never even seen a bat before in our lives.
It will be a long fight with this virus (COVID-19) but I know that we can fight this together, be it the general public, or the staff at the frontline of healthcare, or service line.