We support Ethical Tourism and will always attempt to patron businesses and operators who do the same. We follow the simple motto of leave nothing behind but footsteps, this way we can create a future that is safe and sustainable for everyone.
What is ethical tourism?
Ethical or responsible tourism simply means thinking about the consequences of your actions as a tourist on the environment, animals, local people and the local economy. As tourism continues to grow, and we begin to travel to even more exotic and strange destinations, sometimes we need to take a step back and weigh up what our actions mean to other people.
There are some places and some communities in the world that really do benefit from tourism. For these people, tourism offers an additional or sole income stream that would be unavailable to them otherwise. For some people, they would be out of work without the tourism industry. However, there are some people and communities that are impacted negatively by tourism whether that be from environmental decline, exploitation and cultural appropriation. Unfortunately, there is no definitive guide to knowing whether or not a community is being negatively impacted by the tourism industry which is why it is so important to consider your actions and how they may impact others.
The other major noticeable impact of tourism on the environment is the interaction with animals. This includes industries such as elephant riding, zoos and animal shows. There are hundreds of examples of good animal tourist attractions across the world that focus on the safety, health and rehabilitation of animals. Unfortunately, there are just as many examples of bad ones too. Once again, it is up to us as tourists to asses the impact we are having on the lives of these animals.
What can I do?
Although there is no definitive guide to knowing whether your actions are harmful, there are a few easy steps that you can follow to make sure you leave a positive impression on the environment that you enter.
1. Speak the local language
Even if you can say just a few words or phrases in the local language of the place you are visiting, it will go a long way.
2. Respect local customs
All cultures have a set of behavioural standards that are important and deeply rooted in their societies. It is vital that you respect and follow the culture of the places that you visited as some have been preserved over hundreds of years. Just because something may seem different or strange to the way you usually do things, that doesn't make it wrong!
3. Take care of the environment around you
When you go to the beach, on a hike or even just walking down the street, treat it as you would your home. Leave everything as you found it! Take a few extra minutes to collect your litter when you leave! Instead of taking a car in a busy city, consider walking or cycling instead.
4. Avoid animal souvenir products
While we all want that perfect souvenir from our travels - it is nearly always better to avoid souvenirs that have come from animals. Things like furs, horns and animal teeth are popular among some tourists but are nearly always unethically sourced. Unless you are certain that the supplier has ethically sourced their products, avoid them!
5. Leave wild animals in the wild
When we say this, we are not talking about all zoos and all wildlife parks. Some, in fact many, do a lot of good and help with the conservation of animals. If you research ones that you plan on visiting beforehand you can find out about what they do for conservation and preservation. Any zoo or wildlife park that offers animal rides or animal shows that have animals doing tricks or performing on command are probably partaking in some form of animal cruelty. This also includes people you may meet in the street that offer you a picture with a 'wild animal' - just don't do it!
Here are our top picks for some of the places that are engaging in positive, ethical tourism that supports wildlife:
Elephant Nature Park - Chiang Mai, Thailand
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary - Brisbane, Australia
Port Lympne Reserve - Kent, United Kingdom
Hetta Huskies - Lapland, Finland
Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary - Bethlehem, South Africa