If there’s one thing true about the travel industry, it’s peoples’ passion to participate. With social media and so many ways to learn about new places, areas of the world that have seldom been visited are gaining popularity. Though it’s incredible to watch people experience new places, it’s important to leave a positive impact on the communities we spend our times vacationing in. Learning how to become a responsible tourist is continual, multi-dimensional, and an essential part of protecting these places so others can enjoy them, as well. Here are just a few ways you can work towards being a more responsible tourist during your future vacations:
Many places are visited simply because of the interactions vacationers can have with “cute” animals. Unfortunately, the desire to take pictures with, feed, and handle these animals can result in accidents and deaths. In 2017, up to 10 of the famous swimming pigs in the Bahamas were killed due to ingesting sand, which was likely caused by visitors who would throw small pieces of food to them on the beach. More recently, Australia’s Maria Island has created a pledge for visitors to not take selfies with or get too close to their population of wombats. Both of these very real instances are a reminder that wildlife should be experienced and watched, but not interacted with. You can protect these animals and others like it by keeping your distance and putting the selfie stick away.
During the recent US government shutdown, National Parks remained open with limited staff available to maintain and preserve the regulations that protect their native animals and wildlife. As a result, many of these parks, forests, and conservation areas were devastated by visitors who cut down trees, littered, participated in illegal off-roading, and other actions that caused years of damages and costs. It’s important to remember these regulations and rules are set in place to create ideal environments for people to experience regional wildlife. The only way we’re able to maintain it is by leaving these places without leaving our own footprints behind.
Though taking home an occasional inhabited, small seashell isn’t likely to have a large impact, tourists should always be mindful of the items they wish to bring back home with them. Many places have strict biosecurity laws about bringing wildlife across borders for fear of impacting either the environment they were removed from or the environment they are being brought into. To put it simply, this means you shouldn’t attempt to bring plants, animals, or other items you find in nature back with you. In a similar realm, many suggest avoiding vendors who sell items that are often difficult to find in the wild—large, unbroken seashells being one of the most popular. These products are often harvested and their absence can greatly impact their natural habitat.
One of the easiest and most helpful ways you can be a responsible tourist is by picking up after yourself and others, no matter where you are. Ensuring your garbage has been placed in a trash can, your recyclable items have make it into the right bins, and picking up any stray debris is just a simple gesture that gives so much back. You will help prevent animals from eating foods and dangerous materials and provide regional wildlife an optimal environment to thrive. It only takes a few minutes to make sure you leave with all of the same items you and take anything additional you find along the way, and the benefits are endless.
The beauty of travel is all of the breathtaking places we can visit around the globe, but we can only visit them as long as they exist. Our team encourages you to always learn about the environments you are visiting, the culture that surrounds these places, and participating in activities that leave positive environmental impacts so others can have great vacationing experiences now and in the future.