Is Responsible Tourism Utopia?
Responsible Tourism, what does it mean? Is responsible tourism utopia? an imagined place, where everything is perfect? or something else, that is the question…
Let’s try to answer that question. You know how fairy tales begin: Once upon a time…Well, let’s start things this way.
Once upon a time, people lived in harmony with nature, each other and with their inner self. These people knew how to truly love and respect, how to be honest, noble, responsible. It was only natural, like drinking a glass of water when you’re thirsty. Nowadays, everything seems to be so complicated.
What Happened to Responsible Tourism?
Modern tendencies took their toll. Somehow, somewhere, we lost this natural behaviour. How to be good parents, friends… maybe I’m over exaggerating, maybe that’s what every generation feels. Or maybe there’s a little bit of truth in all this.
Happily, there are open minded people with a deep sense of humanity, global and local responsibility. These rare species are striving to influence others, to convert their perspective to make others observe and act in accordance with responsible behaviour.
The aspect of responsible behaviour includes a wide range of things and among them, responsible tourism. It’s a great concept with practical ideas and noble objective. The followers of this concept are giving their best shots to spare and save not only the natural environment but also the local community of further humiliation and destruction. In brief, there are four main points: economic, social, cultural, and environmental.
What Does Responsible Tourism Actually Mean?
Economic includes the possibility to really earn from tourism facilities. At Spirit Journeys we are devoted followers of responsible tourism. As an example, in Cambodia and Myanmar, half of the holiday costs go to the villages enrichment funds.
Our aim is to improve the lives of people in these and other countries. Our guides are from the local area, providing employment and opportunities to the community, we promote local services, food, culture and customs. People in these countries are poor but proud and make their best efforts to survive. It’s a noble deed to support them and give them a chance.
Now we come to the environmental aspect of the story. I’ll give you a witty example; At least once in your life, have you had the following situation? The worst possible kind of guests are in your home, indifferent parents with unruly children. The children are throwing your belongings and treasured possessions around, running, screaming… with every little chocolate fingerprint on your once clean walls and furniture, you’re getting more and more upset at the disrespect your visitors are showing you and your home. And there’s nothing you can do because look how cute they are.
If we take this analogy and apply it to the unruly and selfish attitude and impact of tourists on the environment of the places they visit, the impact of not caring for others possessions, particularly in tourist areas where the economy is poor but they are trying their best to make tourism work to improve their economy. In short, the point is to minimise the impact on the natural environment and to increase the respect and awareness.
Social and Cultural Tourism
Staying with the same analogy as the unruly children that are disrespecting your rules and possessions, imagine if the parents disrespected everything that you believed in, your religion, your beleifs, your ethics. Cambodia is still a deeply religious and conservative society for example, the wearing of strappy tops and short shorts is a sign of disrespect. In temples you should dress even more modestly requiring knees and upper arms to be covered, and you should remove your shoes before entering a temple. This is the culture that should be respected.
Every Story Should Have a Happy Ending.
Now we come to the end of this story it is clear that ‘Responsible Tourism’ is not utopia, an imagined place, where everything is perfect. It’s a need, urge and an obligation. Sharing good ideas is the point. Sharing love, friendship, peace, responsibility. If you share ideas and positive examples of responsible tourism, this concept will survive.