Many may say the responsible tourist looks for ethics, social consciousness and supporting the local population economically. But really the bottom line is EXPERIENCE. Working in responsible tourism I occasionally get asked about the political, social and economic benefits of the holiday but this always comes second. So what does a responsible tourist look for? What are the most common questions? Here are a few of my regulars…
1, What type of accommodation?
The wonderful thing about responsible tourism is that it uses locally run, individualistic and characterful accommodations. The whole causality of responsible tourism is an authentic, unique and unusual holiday. People are now leaning away from the concrete square hotels that offer lifeless, lazy buffet holidays. AirBnB’s success is a result of the desire to really delve into the country to be ‘home from home’. Closely shadowed by the steady rise in popularity of homestays and the desire to experience being part of that culture and society. Everybody asks about the Casa’s in Cuba, mainly because that’s all there is, but also because they are seriously cool!
2, Reputation of the holiday company?
This is a biggy! With ABTA and ATOL being plastered all over our screens, travellers almost feel they need it even though they do not totally understand it. Many do not understand the basics; ABTA is only for British travel agents or ATOL is for flights. Although, the responsible traveller booking a locally operated holiday in advance could be at a higher financial risk. Many countries do not have a bonding scheme in place and for overseas operators, this can be a major problem. The fear economy started during the financial crises and is rearing its evil head once again due to Brexit. Everybody searches for the following stamp or some kind of accreditation.
3, Can I see their reviews?
Reviews are so important! These can trump most bonding schemes. Travellers trust other travellers and the popularity of Trip Advisor suggests people care about what other people think. Many will not even go on holiday unless they can read something that puts their mind at ease. Furthermore, don’t be scared of criticism, some negative reviews actually help with conversion, here’s more information
4, What is the current situation?
We are all bombarded with stories of terrorist attacks, virus fears and political unrest that many are becoming fearful of travel. To be perfectly honest, I completely understand why! I investigated some of the places the FCO suggest are safe and created a safe holiday map, but be warned its very limited! Turkey, Egypt, in fact most of the middle east is out of bounds. People are now reconsidering Central and South America due to the zika virus and all of Africa was out of bounds until recently. This prevents people from travelling and fulfilling their bucket list. Uganda is a common occurrence, it is considered a dangerous country and is regrettably dropped from a lot of wish lists. But who would want to miss this little guy!
There are many things I get asked every day but responsible tourism always wins on experiences. You will never get this type of uniqueness from anywhere else and that’s what I try to convey! Everybody wants to be the person with the best travel anecdotes and this is what responsible tourists are really looking for.