Experience Argentina is recommended by Responsible Travel, the leading marketing platform for tour operators and accommodation owners committed to responsible tourism. All members need to provide evidence of responsible tourism and provide visitors with a real connection with the people, the landscape, the culture and the environment. We call this helping them to ‘travel like a local’ .
Responsible tourism is exciting
Going on holiday should always be exciting. The escape, the exploration and, of course, the welcome rest. A responsible holiday is no exception. When you take a responsible holiday you are ensuring that the money you spend stays locally, which might mean staying in a family owned lodge on the edge of a lake, instead of a multinational chain behind gates. Discovering eclectic eateries which not only source their food close to home but also celebrate local cuisine as part of their culture. This might be in a remote valley in Vietnam, a mountain village in Morocco, or a beach café in Burma. Or going kayaking with a local guide, who shares all his local secret spots. You won’t get that on a cruise liner.A responsible tourism holiday also means being switched on to our impact on the landscapes and seascapes we visit. Recycling and renewable energy are par for the course now, but few people know about the damage that can be caused by downhill skiing, large cruise ships, golf, jet skis and even irresponsible hiking and mountain biking. The good news is that for all the baddies, there are beauties. Cross country skiing and husky sledding in Finland is more exciting than packed pistes and overused snow cannons. Spending a week on board a traditional gulet boat in Turkey is so much cooler than disembarking in Marmaris en masse. And cycling in Croatia is so much more exciting, and indeed Croatian, than doing a daytrip on a crowded coach.
Responsible tourism is emotional
People are at the heart of the responsible tourism movement. First and foremost, as soon as you remember that you are visiting people’s homes, and see them as hosts rather than homogenous holiday providers, you become more responsible tourists. By respecting people who live in the places you visit on your travels, and engage with them in an open, dignified way you are opening yourself up to the possibilities of more heartfelt holidays. You will learn why the Maasai elder became a conservationist rather than a poacher. You’ll see a Catalan person beam ear to ear when you shake their hand, look them in the eye and say ‘bon dia’ in Catalan. You will hear a Botswanan safari guide serenade you with songs as he pushes you in a dugout canoe across the Okavango Delta. Or watch a Keralan mother prepare a packed lunch for her son, and kiss him goodbye before he goes to school. It’s the everyday stuff that moves us on our travels.Some aspects of tourism invoke more emotions than others of course. The obvious disparity in wealth is one. The exploitation of children is another. The crushing of a community or culture can also be devastating. And the recovery of communities such as Nepal after the earthquake, Sri Lanka post tsunami, Bosnia Herzegovina post conflict or indeed Greece, still mid economic crisis, is humbling to witness. But also imperative to support. And responsible tourism companies – the likes of which we are proud to represent on our website – certainly do support, by tapping in with communities, be they farmers, hikers, cyclists or homestay owners. Many also establish foundations to help communities through charitable donations, not just tourism income. They have done the groundwork for you, and all you need to do is travel there, meet the people, smile and say hi. The rest is up to you.
Responsible tourism is easy
There are a lot of misconceptions about responsible tourism. First, that it’s all about staying in five star eco lodges suspended from the trees in the Costa Rican rainforest. With five star bank accounts to pay for it. Or, the complete opposite; that responsible tourists are hiking, hippy hostellers, who want nothing more than to hug trees and salute the sun. The reality is that we can all be responsible tourists – it is easy. If you are camping in Kent, cruising in Croatia or chilling in the Caribbean, as long as you support local people, respect their culture and go easy on their homelands, you are being responsible. It’s easy because it is just common sense.
Responsible tourism is explicable
We hope that all of the above helps to define responsible tourism for you. In short, responsible tourism is about creating better places to live in and better places to visit. The order of that sentence is key. Creating benefits for our hosts comes first. Then, when our hosts are happy, we, the guests, will be too.Tourism is often cited as being the most important employer in tourism destinations and, therefore, a force for good. We agree with this, but when the employer pays below a living wage or offers unreasonable employment conditions, imports people and services rather than sourcing them locally, tourism can be perceived by local people as a new form of colonialism – or at worst, slavery. Responsible tourism is about putting people in the destinations first. Their livelihoods, their landscapes, their learnedness and their living culture.