What Responsible Tourism is Not

The word Sustainable is now everywhere, it has grown beyond its literal, grammatical meaning and is tagged onto a huge number of entities, some deserving, some not.

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In the world of travel and tourism we also find the word sustainable. Though often it is expanded and perhaps made more specific by use of the word ‘Responsible’.

Again, the word ‘Responsible’ is tagged onto many things. It is now an established term in the industry but is, in our opinion, often mis-used as a pure marketing ploy. We are genuinely passionate about acting Responsibly as an organisation. This is not an add-on for us, it is an all-permeating ethos.

Perhaps you will therefore grant us leave to express, in fairly blunt terms, what we feel about certain schemes that are used by certain organisations in order to claim use of the word ‘Responsible’ in association with their services.

Responsible Tourism is many things, but it is not….

  • Simply throwing a lump of money at a community with no background research, establishment of a working relationship or long-term plan and goal.
  • An outside organisation, company or group telling the local community what it is that needs to be done. It should be listening.
  • Setting up a ‘fund’ from which local individuals may or may not be able to apply for a pay-out from.
  • Swamping an area with volunteer labour, displacing local jobs.
  • Constructing a building or facility with no provision for the costs of its ongoing use.
  • Offering cheap deals by squeezing local people on their wages.
  • Using a ‘volunteering project’ simply as another box to tick on an adventure travel itinerary.
  • Inventing a white-elephant project to tick the box above.
  • Paying too much or too little for anything.
  • Reaping the benefits of what a country has to offer without sharing the rewards fairly with it.
  • Hiding possible negative or difficult aspects of a trip from prospective clients.
  • Just using the cheapest provider when you outsource certain services
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3 thoughts on “What Responsible Tourism is Not

  1. Just a bit more rant….

    Through our work as a company and in support of the Moving Mountains Trust we see so many opportunities for projects that are genuinely life-changing for in-country people.

    It is absolutely inexcusable for any organisation to be doing false projects. If the sending organisation themselves are struggling to identify a worthy project then they should be partnering with a genuine NGO or similar organisation who can help them to identify one.

    If they cannot find a worthy project for their volunteering trip then they should not be running it as such. It should be cancelled or the trip description changed.

    Participants in a trip frequently see straight through the fake projects and come home dis-illusioned and jaded. This does next to nothing for their personal development and can have a hugely detrimental effect on them and of course on the in-country community.

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