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What is Responsible Tourism?

As more countries develop their travel and tourism industry, the effect on natural resources and consumption patterns increase.
World Tourism Forum Responsible Tourism

What is Responsible Tourism?

Responsible tourism is one of the main concerns these days. As more countries develop travel and tourism industry, the effect on natural resources and consumption patterns increase. Tourism stakeholders need responsible planning and effective management for the industry to survive and to minimize the effects created by tourism activities.

International tourism is expected to reach 1.5 billion by 2020. Travel and tourism industry generates 9.5% of total global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013 and provides employment for 10% of the global workforce.

Together with being a constantly growing industry, it is inevitable for tourism to create significant impacts on the natural resources and social order. For instance, by 2050, tourism is anticipated to generate 40% of global carbon emissions, while other economic sectors cut their Carbon Dioxide emissions. Therefore, sustainable transportation is a critical issue, which seems to remain on the agenda especially for aviation industry.

Sustainable or responsible tourism is about visiting a place as a tourist and making an effort to leave a positive impact on the

  • Environment
  • Economy
  • Society

Sustainability principles involve these three dimensions and there must be a balance between them to guarantee its sustainability in the long-term.

Minimizing the environmental impacts created by tourists should be considered to protect the environment itself. Besides, giving a central role to the local people in the touristic development of their own territory and allowing them to be involved and participate are essential for a sustainable touristic development. From economical perspective, economic benefits of tourism need to be generated and distributed equally among local people.

Responsible tourism is about focusing on the problems and adapting new concepts to solve them. It requires thinking long-term, considering that change is an ongoing and irreversible process. Maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity are key elements to protect the nature. Responsible management must include providing socio-economic benefits, which are fairly distributed, job opportunities and social services to the local community, as well as to all the stakeholders.

How to be a responsible tourist?

Travel is about discovering new places, meeting new people and tasting new tastes, in short it is about experiencing the things you have not experienced before. While doing this, it is important to be a traveler who concerns about protection and preservation of places, local cultures and environment itself.

According to UNWTO, everyone has a liability to maintain a responsible travel and to be a responsible tourist.

  • Being an open-minded, tolerant and respectful to other cultures and all the differences.
  • Being respectful to human rights
  • To help to preserve and protect natural environments, wildlife and habitats
  • To respect not only natural resources but also cultural resources such as the artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage which represents the locality itself.
  • To make contributions to local economy and social development such as purchasing local handicrafts and products to support the local economy.
  • To ensure that you learn as much as possible about your destination and try to understand the customs and norms in order to understand and to be understood better.
  • To investigate or at least to make a quick research about the laws so that you have an opportunity to avoid any criminal behavior.


Sustaining Tourism Retrieved July 8,2015

Ethical Travel Portal Retrieved July 8,2015

(2013, August 30). EARTH- European Alliance for Responsible Tourism and Hospitality Retrieved July 8,2015

UNWTO. Ethics and Social Responsibility Retrieved July 8,2015

UNWTO. Sustainable Development of Tourism Retrieved July 8,2015

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