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Frequently Asked Questions

Got a few questions about Responsible Travel? We attempt to answer them below…

1. What is responsible travel?
Responsible travel minimizes negative impacts and maximizes positive impacts on host communities.

2. Can you always travel responsibly?
Many people believe it is impossible to travel responsibly. In some areas of the world, depending on your itinerary that may be true. However, you can have a more positive impact on the community and environment you are visiting. These can be simple things like supporting worthwhile community projects.

3. What is the local travel movement?
The local travel movement involves travelling close to home. The further you travel, the greater your carbon footprint and contribution to climate change. Look around your local area to discover travel opportunities.  If you travel locally you’re supporting businesses around you and keeping people employed.  Buying your fruit and vegies at a nearby market means that less food miles have been travelled – not only by you but also by the producers of the food.

4. What about carbon emissions? What is the best way to go about choosing an appropriate carbon off-set scheme?
Carbon emissions are a complex issue. Many different companies provide carbon off-sets.  However some companies don’t always use best practice. Before booking your flights check out Carbon Offset Watch for tips on what to do before choosing to purchase. When you get to your destination aim to ‘fly less and stay longer’ in the places you are visiting. Also when moving on to your next destination why not go overland and use public transport? You’ll be supporting the economy, engaging with people and reducing your carbon footprint.

5. How do I know the place I am staying is sustainable or responsible?
It is difficult to be certain that 100% of your money is going to the people who need it most that wages are fair and the environment hasn’t been damaged etc. What you can do is ask questions! If more travellers show they are concerned about ethical travel issues businesses will have to start doing more about it. Yes there is a possibility that you may be lied to not be told the truth. Businesses are always going to point out what is positive about their product. If there is something that you believe is genuinely positive and has some benefit to the local community and environment then great!  Tell others and praise the business owner – who may be encouraged to do more good things! If you can see room for improvement leave suggestions for the owner to improve the responsible/sustainable element in the future.

Look for accommodation and tour providers that are certified or part of a larger organisation or listed on legitimate travel community and eco-tourism websites. Check out our CBTI page and do a Google search of ‘Community Based Tourism’ at your destination.

The Uniting Church and Getaway Travel have made every effort to identify responsible destination businesses in Cambodia that apply good business practices as well as staff training, employ locals, pay fair wages, are locally owned and wherever possible operate sustainably.

6. They talk about green washing in eco-tourism, what about tour companies that claim they are responsible? How will I know they are legitimate?
Again, we can never be certain but it’s all about asking questions. Legitimate companies should provide proof of the benefits to the communities and projects they are supporting. Where possible read the comments left by previous tour participants.

7. What is community based tourism?
Community based tourism is tourism in which residents (often rural, poor and economically marginalized) invite tourists to visit their communities with the provision of overnight accommodation and/or activities.

Community based tourism enables tourists to discover local habitats and wildlife and celebrates and respects traditional cultures, rituals and wisdom. The community will be aware of the commercial and social value placed on their natural and cultural heritage through tourism and this will foster community based conservation of these resources.

Community-based tourism affords travellers with rare opportunities to experience local communities first hand and put money directly into the hands of those who need it most. It provides rural and poor communities with an important additional source of income.
In supporting community-based tourism, you can immerse yourself in the day-to-day lives of local and indigenous people while helping them to preserve their environment and cultural heritage (sourced from www.communitybasedtourism.info).

8. Does responsible travel have to be about staying in basic accommodation? I’m more into luxury style accommodation. Can I still travel responsibly?
You can travel responsibly in style!  There are many styles of accommodation at community based tourism ventures. The Ethical Travel Guide by Tourism Concern is a great place to start.

9. Do you have a responsible travel checklist?
We do have a Responsible Travel Checklist. But that doesn’t mean it’s the rule. When you travel things can go awry and you can’t plan for that. You can aim to travel responsibly but it may not be possible for every part of your trip. Download the PDF check list but don’t stress if you can’t cover all bases responsibly. Responsible travel is thinking outside the square. How can you make your travel experience more sustainable and more supportive of the communities you are visiting?

Tourism Concern’s Ethical Travel Guide is a great place to start. www.tourismconcern.org.uk

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