It’s easy to turn a blind eye to the communities impacted by tourism and globalization. Make your impact a positive one!
- Purchase unique and beautiful fair trade gifts produced by indigenous and minority communities around the world. For every purchase from Global Exchange, InHerit receives a share of the profit to support its programs.
- Learn more about the issues facing local indigenous communities before you go on vacation. Visit theInternational Ecotourism Society (TIES) for more information on socially responsible community-based and ecotourism opportunities where you’re going! Examine InHerit’s Community Voices and Resources for Travelers (this page) pages for more information.
- Offer the children in your life a door to the world. Purchase one of InHerit’s illustrated legends, coloring books, or activity books for a fully tax-deductible donation in our Bazaar.
- Every time you travel to a region where InHerit works, make a small donation to locally-generated programs conducted by indigenous nonprofits. Like carbon off-sets, these globalization off-sets are an investment in future quality of life. Use our off-set calculator to estimate your impact.
- Build the capacity of communities and nonprofits to manage, promote, and conserve their threatened living and ancient heritage. Visit our Bazaar to:
- invest in a specific InHerit program or community partner
- support the sustainability of InHerit
How to be a Responsible Tourist
1. Do your homework. Read up on the places you want to visit. This is not so time consuming with all the sites in the internet and people sharing their own experiences freely in the web. As an example, maybe feeding pigeons is accepted in your home…but in some cities, it is a criminal offence, and that’s just one example! Guides will help you when you get to the site…but is that the best place to go? Is it popular only because the one day tourist can see it easily or is really a worthwhile place to visit. . You can get information from sites like Sustainable Travel International or Stay Another Day on eco-friendly products and services in your target area.
2. Go green. There are many occasions to do this starting in your hotel with towels and sheets. If you are staying longer, ask them to do your sheets and towels not every day but when they are ready for the laundry. Do the right thing around air conditioners, heaters, and other electronic gadgets. Turn them off. Better still, stay in hotels that have recycling programs well in place and abide with their guidelines.
3. Support local businesses. Try to buy something from the local stores with local brands. Why buy the same thing you can get at home? You will help circulate money in the local economy and support or create jobs for local people. Try to patronize businesses that are not engaged in illegal trade and exploitation, the exploitation of humans, especially children and the looting of artifacts. Every year, an estimated $6 billion of the world’s cultural heritage is stolen and sold. Stealing peoples’ heritage? Don’t do it!
4. Experience the place. So often, we go on tours and retreat to our hotels for meals. Walk around, even if only in the streets closest to your hotel. Eat in local restaurants. Talk to the locals. Learn a few words in the local language and use it. You will surely get a smile from the hotel staff and street vendors. Challenge yourself to go off the beaten path, a step beyond your comfort limit each time you take a trip. You will be surprised at the experiences you will get to treasure in your memory.
5. Respect the cultural practices of the local people. Be discreet when people are praying in churches, mosques or temples. Wear appropriate clothing. Respect the silence and the restrictions placed on these sites. If you see a pile of shoes outside a place, take your own off. Don’t be a doofus…think!
6. Help preserve the heritage. Most of the sites you visit may be visited by millions of people a year, so care needs to be taken to allow others to enjoy this as well. Be mindful of other visitors. Take your litter with you and for heaven’s sake, do you really want your name emblazoned on the walls or the caves or the sides of the mountain? Do you absolutely HAVE to take that picture of yourself on top of a monument especially when the signs say “NO”? Some of these monuments and artifacts are so old and fragile that they are sensitive to the touch of hands or bags and shoes. For more information on this, go to Heritage Watch.
7. Always have a cloth bag with you. This way, you don’t encourage the use of those plastic bags that fly all over many sites and foul the water and waste systems of some very fragile ecosystems. You can use this bag to carry some cookies to give to beggars and kids. Giving them money will just encourage dependency. If you really want to give, there are agencies you can donate to or where you can volunteer some of your time. This will surely be an experience especially in the more disadvantaged countries.
8. Don’t be a critic. It ain’t all pretty! Deal with it and keep quiet. Remember…home has its problems and with all the resources we have, we can’t seem to solve these.
And here’s the big one….good manners are nearly universal. A pro tourist is polite and positive and eco sensitive. If that doesn’t sound like you, then give the world a break and stay home. These are just simple things. What we need is just a little desire to make our world a much better place to be — not just for ourselves, but for everyone.
Socially Responsible Tourism Links
Most of the money you spend on vacation will never reach local indigenous communities or contribute to heritage conservation. Want an alternative? Check out these community-based and ecotourism resources.
Green Hotels & Responsible Tourism Initiative
The International Ecotourism Society
National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations
New York Times Eco-Tourism Travel Guide