Following the scrapping of PCR Covid tests for fully vaccinated people entering the UK (from non-red list countries, commencing on October 4) and President Joe Biden relaxing travel restrictions in the US, airlines and travel companies have reported a massive surge in bookings.

Hordes of holidaymakers are getting ready to jet off on what may well be their first overseas trip in more than 18 months – good news for a travel industry hit hard by the pandemic.

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How to be a responsbible traveller

However, it’s important to remember no matter where you go or how much you’re spending on your long-awaited holiday, there are some essential dos and don’ts everyone should follow. To mark World Tourism Day (September 27), here’s how to be a respectful and responsible traveller…

1. Choose your destination carefully

Responsible travel
Why not visit somewhere new, such as Zaragoza? (Alamy/PA)

While many countries are crying out for an economic boost from tourism, some destinations could be potentially harmed by an influx of holidaymakers.

“Overtourism had become a real issue in cities like Barcelona, where the locals were protesting about being priced out, and Venice, with concern about cruise ships and the environmental impact on a sinking city,” says travel journalist Lisa Francesca Nand, host of The Big Travel Podcast.

“Tourism needs to be rekindled, but choosing one of those lesser-visited places – Zaragoza instead of Barcelona, Marseilles instead of Paris – or a specifically eco-friendly resort can make a difference.”

2. Reduce your carbon footprint

Tourists travelling on a train in Sri Lanka
Tourists travelling on a train in Sri Lanka (Alamy/PA)

“We all know we need to keep a check on our carbon footprint, but in reality it’s not always that easy,” Nand says. “But there’s also no shame in wanting to travel for leisure and not all of us have the time to take a long train journey to some far-off location.”

She suggests opting for greener alternatives where you can, such as relying on public transport instead of hiring a car or choosing not to fly short distances.

“Once we’re in our holiday destination we can choose activities that are low carbon,” says Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel. “Kayaking, cycling, horse riding, walking and swimming will allow you to get closer to nature.”

3. Respect the local pace of life

A peaceful harbour in Lesbos, Greece
A peaceful harbour in Lesbos, Greece (Alamy/PA)

No matter how organised a traveller you are, when exploring new places there are bound to be hiccups along the way.

“Learn about the culture and adapt accordingly,” Nand says. “The boat might only sail on Tuesdays, all the shops might be closed on Saturdays, the locals might not do things at the same pace you do things at home. You can either get frustrated by these things or reframe them as part of the rich diversity of the world we live in. Enjoy the ride! Even if it is two days later than planned.”

4. Support local communities

 

 
 
 
 
 
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“When on holiday, travelling with respect will earn you respect, especially when it comes to local communities,” says Francis, and how you choose to spend your time and money can make a big difference.

“Choose local gift shops, artisans and markets. Hire local guides so more of your money stays with the local community, and in turn you’ll have the chance to get real first-hand insight into the local culture, landscape and wildlife.”

5. Avoid ‘slum tourism’

“Areas of economic hardship should not be tourist attractions,” says travel expert Rob Staines. “Slums and ghettos are often representative of some of the most marginalised in society and are not there for entertainment or to satisfy a source of intrigue. Visiting to see what life looks like in these areas only reinforces negative attitudes.”

If you want to have a positive impact, why not make a donation to a local charity or community group? Staines adds: “There is a difference between gawping from a distance and genuine discovery, so search for local guides who have deep and genuine roots in these areas and can help you to make a positive contribution.”

6. Conscious consumption

It’s not just where you shop, but what you purchase that will make you a conscious consumer. Francis says: “Buy less of the products that are not always nature-friendly: beef, leather, soy, timber, rubber, palm oil, cocoa, pulp, paper and plastic. Avoid products made from endangered species, shells or coral. And don’t forget to bring your reusable shopping bag and water bottle.”

Discovering the culinary delights of the region is another way to reduce your eco impact. “Try to eat local, seasonal produce and shop locally too so as to avoid the associated food miles,” he suggests. “Lastly, over a third of our food is wasted so try and avoid all you can eat buffets and if you’re self-catering, buy and eat just the amount you need.”

7. Pay attention to local Covid rules

Even if restrictions around mask-wearing and social distancing have eased at home, rules may be different abroad.

“Some [countries] still require tests, others require proof of vaccine to enter bars and restaurants,” says Nand. “Make sure you know what’s required or you might find yourself turned back at the border, refused entry to museums, bars and restaurants or indeed subjected to a hefty fine.”

 

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Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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