|What can travellers do?|
Travellers are powerful – and they have to assume responsibility. Tourism destinations can only remain attractive and hospitable if travellers are aware of the fact that they leave their mark on the living conditions of the local population as well as on the natural and cultural attractions.
Therefore, the principles of sustainable development can only be successfully implemented if travellers actively ask for it: For “sustainable” travel offers to be created by tour operators in tourism regions, these have to be demanded by travellers. It is equally important that travellers apprehend their individual responsibility on a journey.
Tourism is complex and requires a critical approach
There are many areas of conflict in tourism: working conditions, water supply, distribution of income, land rights, climate change, preservation of the cultural identity, political co-determination, environmental protection, rights of women and children,... Tourism is a complex field and next to its importance in economy, it also has effects on society and the environment – positive ones as well as negative ones. As a traveller, it is substantial to critically reflect on the phenomenon of tourism. Information material provided by NFI and other NGOs can keep you up to date on all those issues (you can find an overview of the most important web sites here). The respect Info-Mail regularly informs about current developments and in our Tourism_LOG, correspondents from all around the world describe their observations of North-South tourism.
Fair travelling – setting an example with one's own travel behaviour
In order to support sustainable tourism, it is not enough to travel environmentally aware. Over the last few years, the terms “responsible tourism” and “fair travel” have taken root. Although these terms have no universally valid or legally binding definitions, the ethical aspect is clearly visible in all of them.
Demand creates a basis for sustainable travel offers
The tourism industry offers those products for which there is demand from their consumers. If travellers do not show any interest in social and ecological standards and only ask for the lowest price, the tourism industry will adapt its offers correspondingly. In tourism as well as in other industries, price competition within the industry is at the expense of people and the environment.
You can create a demand for sustainable travel offers! Ask your travel agency, your tour operator or in your hotel for products complying with sustainability criteria. There are different quality labels in tourism (often referred to as “ecolabels” or “sustainability labels”) designating those products – find an overview here. Do also ask for activities of your tour operator in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). But be careful – not all “green initiatives” of companies deliver on their promises.