What does responsible tourism mean?
Responsible tourism means doing business well, in a fair and responsible manner whilst bearing in mind how we as travellers can affect the places we visit.
How does Escaped to Latin America practice responsible tourism?
We work to ensure that people who work for us are treated fairly and paid a fair wage. We respect the customs and culture of the countries we operate in so as not to cause offence to local people and communities.
We ensure that local people benefit financially from our tours by sub-contracting services to local companies in the countries where we operate. We encourage people to eat out in local restaurants and often use locally run hotels all of which has a trickle-down effect through using local laundries, builders, farms etc. We minimise our impact on the environment by travelling responsibly, reducing waste on treks etc and supporting conservation projects.
What can you do to practice responsible tourism?
First of all we want you to relax and enjoy yourself whilst you’re on vacation in Peru or elswhere in Latin America. No-one would want their holiday and enjoyment to be at the expense of other people or communities, or for their trip to damage the beautiful places they are travelling to. We have however thought of a few things you can do which will really help the people and places you are travelling to.
Responsible tourism before you arrive for your vacation:
Learn a few words of the language. Learning a few words of the local language is a great way to break barriers, meet people, amuse kids, greet shopkeepers, waiters, taxi drivers, etc. It is equally important to say ‘thank you’ and ‘goodbye’. This is both polite and shows that you have an interest in their country. If you are conversant in Spanish or Portuguese, or even if you only know and use a few words, your efforts will be much appreciated throughout the continent.
Local Customs. Please try to be sensitive to local customs. Local traditions and religious customs vary greatly around the world and play a large part in the local way of life. Please familiarise yourself with the local people’s dress codes, dressing conservatively in catholic churches for example. The concept of time is also likely to be more relaxed and less hurried than your own. Remember – you are the visitor, and by showing respect you will be respected and appreciated yourself!
Packing & packaging. Keep any packaging down to a minimum and avoid disposable goods as these often can’t be disposed of or recycled overseas. Eco-friendly soap gets our thumbs-up as do re-chargable batteries.
Presents / Gifts. You may make friendships and hopefully experience generous hospitality when travelling. Gifts that are evocative of your home country such as postcards and photographs make ideal presents.
How can you practice responsible tourism on tour:
Water- pollution & usage. If necessary to wash in streams or rivers whilst on a trek, do not use detergents or other chemicals. There are a number of eco-friendly soaps available from camping / walking shops. Remember, it may well be someone’s drinking water further downstream. Use water sparingly where possible as systems will not be as well developed much of the time.
Shopping & souvenirs. Avoid buying any souvenirs that may exploit wildlife or threaten endangered species. This includes obvious items such as butterflies, beetles and spiders as well as items made of bones and skins.
Buying local souvenirs helps the local economy and is a good way to get money to local communities. Whilst it is often the norm and even fun to haggle, do stop once you have arrived at a reasonable price. A particularly low price may only be due to the desperation and poverty of others.
It is illegal to bring meat and dairy products, seeds and soil into many countries. This is because they could carry pests and diseases, such as Foot and Mouth, which might harm livestock and crops in your home country.
Before you bring back souvenirs from your trip, make sure you know the rules. You can find more information online. If you are not able to check, or you’re still not sure, there’s only one way to be safe which is not to pack it.
Wildlife & habitats. Do not disturb wildlife or damage their natural habitats. Be careful not to touch coral reefs and do not feed, nor touch animals or fish. Be quiet when viewing animals in their natural habitat.
Plants & shells. Wild plants and shells should remain in their natural environment, so avoid picking any. If everyone took a shell or stone from its place there would be none left after a time. It is also illegal to import certain plant species.
Artefacts & relics. Items and artefacts from ancient cultures and civilisations may still be found or bought in countries such as Peru and elsewhere. Although they may appear discarded or available to buy, leave them where you find them. Exporting artefacts is also often illegal.
Begging. Don’t give money, sweets or pens, especially to children. Giving to children only teaches them that begging is rewarding and can undermine parental authority. Children making money from begging are unlikely to go to school and so are more likely to be trapped in a cycle of poverty. It is far better to talk to and interact with children. Some sort of game, a song or simply exchanging drawings or photos can be more fulfilling and fun for both you and the children. There are a number of worthwhile charities which will ensure longer term benefits to a greater number of people if you wish to donate.
Litter / garbage. The world is full of litter so please don´t add to it yourself! Many countries do not have adequate litter collection, let alone recycling or waste reduction schemes; so the less litter you create, the better for everyone
Drinking water Where plastics are not recycled, you might consider taking a water bottle to refill, or even take a filter and purify your own water.
Photography Local people or children in colourful local dress always make good subjects for photographs. Many people however, for whatever reason, do not like being photographed. Always ask permission before taking photographs and respect their answer.
Continuing to practice responsible tourism once home:
Why not consider contributing to the many projects and organisations you may have come across on your tour or supporting a charity that operates in the country you have visited. Ask us for advice on this issue.