Each of us can contribute to being a responsible traveller, attentive to the world and its inhabitants, by following some simple guidelines, before, during and after the trip.
Before the trip: Prepare roperly for your trip and be genuinely interested in the destination
- Learn about the locals and their way of life, heritage, religion, environment, economy and try to learn a few words in their native language.
- Choose companies and service providers such as travel agencies, tour operators, airlines, guides, on-site activities, accommodation, restaurants which encourage and support a sustainable tourism.
- Take only the essentials and keep some room in your suitcase to bring home a few souvenirs. Learn about the practice and limits of price bargaining and tips left to staff in restaurants, the accommodations, guides, artisans, merchants. Do not hustle anybody.
- Keep an open mind while you are travelling but be aware of possible security risks and dangers.
The journey allows encounters, encounters allows the passing and sharing of knowledge and knowledge allows confidence. (Bambara proverb)
During the trip: respect the nature as well as the people and their culture
- Learn about the habits and customs of the destination without imposing your habits or lifestyle. Pay attention to the way you dress, especially in places of worship. Try to keep luxury items that create a harsh contrast to the local standard of living to a minimum. Try the local cuisine and be curious about authentic local accommodation.
- Before taking a picture of a person, take the time to ask for their permission and take the opportunity to start a dialogue. For children, ask for parental consent.
- Just as you do at home sort your rubbish and try to save water and energy. Respect the rules in natural spaces, in order to preserve the natural balance of these places, as well as in museums, cities or on beaches.
- Do not collect souvenirs from natural and archaeological sites and do not encourage theft, deprivation and damage by buying sacred objects or products from protected sites. Donate to competent associations, schools or village authorities instead of encouraging begging, especially that of children. Refrain from the sexual exploitation of children, women or men. In all European countries the law prosecutes sexual crimes which were committed abroad.
We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. (Native American maxim taken up by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
After the trip: encourage the dialogue between cultures to allow tourism to create peace
- Honour your commitments with the people you meet during the trip, sending photos for example. If you have noticed serious and intolerable situations, report them to the agency which sold you the trip or to the competent authorities.
- Compensate all or part of the emissions which were produced due to your trip (in particular air travel), by contributing to projects which help in fighting climate change. Support local initiatives by donating to development associations, getting involved with NGOs or buying fair trade products.
- Share your experience as a traveller, with family, with friends, or on social networks to testify to the riches and fragility of our planet, and give others advice on how to travel sustainable.
- Prepare your next trip by becoming aware of the many virtues of tourism, not only economic and social but also cultural and environmental. Tourism gives value to heritage and encourages its protection.
Only the footprint should remain behind us, leaving the best memories to our guests. (Quote from the first ethical charter for travellers written in 1996)