Travelling essentials: Ways to become a responsible tourist
Responsible tourism is all about making better places to live, and visit while letting nature thrive. These days, the terms responsible tourism, sustainable tourism, eco-tourism take centre stage of any discourse regarding travelling and tourism, and for good reasons.
There is raising awareness, globally, about the adverse impacts travel can have on the nature, environment, places and people — especially through contributing to climate change, pollution, unsustainable pressure on wildlife and habitats, harming local economies, or even distortion of local customs, cultures and heritage.
But how far has the average tourist in Bangladesh come in terms of responsible tourism is a debate to be had, and also, if there are sufficient policies, laws and infrastructure that support such responsible tourism.
Responsible tourism should start from the tourists. It should not be hard to do. If one is capable enough to go travelling and be a tourist, post photos and vlogs on social media, one should be able to learn to be more responsible during travels.
Before you leave
Plan and Research
Look up the place you will be visiting. Learn about the culture and heritage, the local flora and fauna, common practices, local businesses, local communities and be aware of common practices and social cues.
The research should not be limited to the places and people, but also the hotel you will stay, the tour company, and facilities you plan on using.
Look for small sustainable businesses you might want to support, or select the tour company or group that prioritises the need to conserve nature, and support local communities, cultures and heritages.
Pack light. Take only what is necessary. Try to avoid taking one-time plastic items.
Be mindful and respectful
Be mindful about the impact you are having on the environment and nature. Even if it means reminding to turn off the lights of your hotel room, or not to let the tap run unnecessarily, to ensuring you are not littering, harming or bothering wildlife and plants.
Respect local cultures, heritage and places. Do not shove your camera on the faces of people or animals. Ask permissions from people; use common sense for wildlife, although it is best to just leave them alone. Be curious and friendly.
Support local communities
Try not to check yourself into an energy-guzzling, waste spewing 5-star hotel when you are travelling, even if you can afford it. Try to find smaller rest houses, or places run by the members of local community to stay in (and yes, they exist, even here in Bangladesh).
Find eateries run by locals, it is a plus point if they are women-led (although unfortunately, they are rare in Bangladesh. Nevertheless, sometimes, some places surprise you, and you need to do your own research and find out).
Forsake the corporate tourism and embrace the community-based one, support the growth and livelihood of the community you are visiting.
Use your common sense
It is not hard. Do not litter, pollute, harm or be a nuisance at the places you are visiting.