Being a tourist is always fun! You get to experience the best of what a place has to offer and then there is the additional joy of picking up some cool souvenirs as well!
And every experience is only more fun when done the right way. So, being responsible and eco-conscious tourists will ensure you get to have a guilt-free and happy time wherever you go!
You don’t need to spend big to have eco-tourism woven into your travel plans. Choose a more environmentally friendly alternative to something and you can call yourself an eco-tourist!
Let’s talk about the basics of being a responsible tourist
- Be an informed traveller
- Choose tourism operators with environmental policies and community projects in place
- Read thoroughly about the place you’re visiting
- Learn some basic words of the local language
- Learn a little about the local customs
- Know how to access medical care or contact your embassy in case of an emergency.
- Research before engaging in voluntourism as there are companies profiting from this kind of tourism. This guide will help you choose the right kind of program- http://new.ethicalvolunteering.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ethicalvolunteering.pdf
- Travel green
- Whenever possible, choose buses or trains over airplanes
- Did you know some airlines are more sustainable than others? Airlines like Lufthansa, Finnair, Harbour Air Seaplanes, United Airlines and Virgin America are among the top 5 sustainable airlines that have adopted policies that are environmentally conscious. Read more about them at- https://www.everysteph.com/flying-green-top-5-sustainable-airlines/
- Always opt for local transportation, bikes, bicycles or simply walking which are all more sustainable
- In India public transportation is easily available everywhere in the form of buses and trains. The cab services provided by Ola and Uber also offer a carpool option. Bikes can also be rented anywhere at any time.
- Respect the customs and local traditions
- The best way to do this is by learning about some traditions and adopting them. It helps you connect with the local communities better.
- Support the local artisans by buying handmade goods from them. Always ask before taking photographs of other people
- In developing countries like India or other third world countries, engage with organizations/associations that help people facing poverty, instead of directly handing out the money to people begging on the streets
- Never forget about the environment
- Always throw your trash in the trash bins; if there isn’t one available close to you then hold on to the trash till you find one.
- Always check if there are separate bins provided for different types of trash and make sure you put yours in the right one
- Try avoiding the usage of plastics as much as possible.
- Say no to plastic straws! Carry your own steel/bamboo straws or you could just have your drink without using a straw at all.
- Carry your own cloth/jute, etc. bags when you’re out to shop or reuse the plastic bags that you might already have.
- At restaurants choose regular water over the bottled one.
- Choose the right kind of nature safaris that only engage in ethical practices and do not pose any threat to nature and its wildlife.
- Do not buy items that are made out of animal skin, leather, fur or other animal parts
- Don’t eat meat of endangered animals, even if it’s considered a local delicacy.
- Conserve energy and Resources
- Do not waste water- use water carefully as it is a scarce resource
- Save energy- make sure you switch off the light and fans of your hotel room before you leave.
As divers we realise we are basically tourists underwater too, and everyone at Temple Reef Foundation and Temple Adventures strongly believes in protecting the sanctity of the marine environment to the best of our abilities. And the best way to do this is by being a responsible scuba diver!
A good diver not knows only the ABCs of their equipment but also knows how to just be an observer underwater and not a disturber.
This means that we live by some simple rules on land and in water!
- Be a buoyancy expert– be aware of your body, gear and equipment to avoid any contact with the natural environment and keep your dive skills sharp.
- Be a role model– on both land and in water regardless of your experience level.
- Take only photos, leave only bubbles– leave a dive site the way you found it, make sure not to leave behind any waste, gear or equipment
- Protect the underwater life– do not touch, disturb or chase anything!
- Become a debris activist– Remove and report what doesn’t belong underwater every time you dive. Make a conscious effort to buy green, buy local & buy less.
- Make responsible seafood choices– check which fish are ‘in season’. Follow initiatives like Know Your Fish (for the west coast) and In Season Fish (east coast) to find out which seafood item is safe to eat which time of the year! You can follow their pages on Facebook and Instagram as well!
- Take action– Speak up, campaign and take initiative for conservation!
- Be an eco-tourist
- Shrink your carbon footprint– saving electricity, carpooling, eating less meat, not buying ‘fast fashion’ are just some of the many examples!
- Give back– Donate or fundraise for ocean protection to fuel the grassroots action and policy change necessary to ensure a clean, healthy ocean planet!
These guidelines are set by Project Aware, an organization dedicated towards ocean protection! Green Fins is another such organization; they work in association with dive and snorkel centres all over the world and set environmental friendly standards for diving and snorkelling.
So if you are a diver or wish to dive and are looking for an ethical dive experience, all you have to do is find out if the dive centre works in association with or is certified by such organizations.
After all, a wholesome vacation is the one that benefits all- you, the local communities and the environment!