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Ethical travel

Ethical travel
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The 6 habits of ethical travellers

Tourism is great news for many parts of the world because it provides a source of income and promotes a sense of pride in a region’s natural resources and landmarks. But travellers can have a devastating impact on the places they visit, for example by encouraging unsustainable practices, or by harming the very wildlife they have travelled to see. Ethical travellers consider the effects of their trip on social justice, human rights, animal welfare and the environment.

1.       They buy responsible souvenirs

Souvenirs are important but think about what you’re buying, who you are buying it from and how it was made. Avoid unscrupulous vendors and instead visit creative businesses and local artisans. Wildlife souvenirs, including sea shells and items made from reptile skin, are best left alone. They encourage animal cruelty and put pressure on endangered species.

2.       They look at their footprint

Ethical travellers minimize their environmental impact. Where is your rubbish going to end up? Avoid putting pressure on the local infrastructure by taking biodegradable products, a shopping bag and a reusable water filter bottle. Be sensitive when it comes to limited resources like water and fuel. Use public transport rather than booking a taxi, and walk or cycle wherever possible. Try to choose accommodation that has adopted environmentally friendly initiatives. Learn more at Tourism Concern.

3.       They respect the culture

You will be exposed to unfamiliar cultures and traditions when you travel. Treat them with respect. Consider appropriate clothing and behaviour. Short sleeves and trouser legs may not be respectful in some settings. Respect local laws and remember that attitudes toward alcohol vary in different countries. Ask before photographing a person or their property, and take the time to chat if that is how people interact. Research local customs and learn what is considered good manners.

4.       They care about wildlife

When booking a wildlife tour or an encounter with exotic animals consider animal welfare. Tourism can have a negative impact on wildlife so do your research and know what it is your money is supporting. Some bars, hotels and restaurants display captive animals, and this is almost certainly not in the animals’ best interests. Also avoid businesses that use animals as photographic props. There are many initiatives that do treat animals with respect: give these your time and money instead.

5.       They support local communities

Tourism really does benefit communities – but not if your money is being skimmed off by multinational companies. Make sure your tourist dollars are going to the local people; and you will find yourself engaging with the local culture in a very meaningful way.

For example:

  • book a home-stay
  • purchase handmade arts and crafts
  • choose local food and drink brands
  • visit community projects
  • use local businesses
6.       They support health in the community

Responsible travellers ensure they’ve had their vaccinations so they don’t spread disease in the communities they visit. To get your travel shots, book a consultation with a travel health nurse at Canadian Travel Clinics in Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Okotoks, Red Deer or Calgary.