How to be an Ethical Tourist
Article submitted by Young Scot, Eurodesk UK Partner organisation.
What is ethical tourism?
Ethical tourism and responsible tourism mean thinking about the consequences of your actions as a tourist on the environment, local people and local economy.
Some places in the world really benefit from tourism and for some communities the tourist trade is the main source of income and jobs.
Ethical tourism is becoming more important in the tourist industry, with campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits of responsible holiday making and treating your area of visit with respect.
What can I do?
Simple actions can make all the difference.
1) Try out the local language
A smile expresses kindness and respect and will go a long way if you can’t speak the local language.
Try to learn a few simple phrases like ‘thank you’, 'please' and ‘hello’ in the language of the country you visit.
2) Find out about local cultures
Before you start your packing, try to find out what sort of clothing the locals will be wearing. If they cover their legs or arms, then you might also want to think about doing the same.
Dressing differently may also get you some unwanted attention! Show respect when visiting local cultural, religious and sacred sites.
3) Try something new
Don’t assume that the way you do something is always the best. What the locals are doing or eating might seem strange or totally bizarre to you, but it's completely normal for them. Give it a go! Try the pickled octopus, who knows you may even like it!
4) Look after the environment
Is flying to your destination the only option? Consider taking alternative and more eco-friendly forms of transport where possible. When you’re out in the countryside, beach or at tourist sites remember to carry away your rubbish with you.
5) Leave wild animals in the wild
Avoid buying products made from endangered or wild animals and plants - including coral, shells, starfish, horns, teeth and animal skins and fur.
If you come across people selling photographs with 'wild animals' think before you buy them - these animals are often taken from the wild when they are young, and can be mistreated or killed when they get too large or difficult to handle.
If you are concerned about finding an ethical volunteering or GAP year placement, then look out for the GIVS kitemark, and check out Tourism Concern - Action for Ethical Tourism.