Support travel services which share the above - mentioned Credo.
Dear Caring Traveller...
...when planning a trip or buying a package tour, ask yourself these questions:
- Does the tour organiser or travel agent demonstrate a cultural and environmental sensitivity to your destination? How are the local people, and the culture you are to visit, portrayed in advertising brochures or orientation materials (guidebooks and the like)?
- Who benefits from the costs of your trip? Which sectors of the host country benefit? What percentage of your money stays in the country you visit rather than "leaking out" to the trans-national travel industry, the hotel chains, and airlines?
- Is a realistic picture of your host country presented to you, or just a "packaged" version, for tourists?
- Will you, on your visit, use the kinds of accommodation and transportation used by the members of the local society?
- Does your travel plan allow adequate opportunities for meeting with local people? Does the pacing of you trip provide time for you to create or accept opportunities for interacting with local people?
- Are you committed to taking part in a pre-trip orientation programme? Have you thought through ways to share your experiences when you return home, to maintain contact with the people you meet, and to keep informed about the country you visit?
- Are you allowing enough lead time when opting for alternative/local travel services?
- Do you inform your travel agent/tour organiser about your concerns for justice in travel?Further details of Responsive Travel opportunities worldwide can be obtained from the organisations listed on the previous page.
Special Note on Travel to the Third World: Buy Critically
(The following is adapted from publicity of a Swiss consumer group in membership of the Third World Tourism European Ecumenical Network:)
When you are planning a trip to the Third World...you are delighted at the prospect; but buy critically: trips are consumer goods. Who profits from your stay? What do you derive from your visit? What will those whom you visit really derive from your visit?
In many countries, notably in the Third World, there are hotels, guest houses, and pensions belonging to the indigenous people and run according to the style of the country. In these, you can experience the uniqueness of your host country. National Tourist Bureaus will give you information. Another source, especially for the Third World, is Alternative Tourism: A Resource Guide, developed by the Ecumenical Coalition on Third World Tourism, (visit www.tourismconcern.org.uk for details). A number of entries from this Guide are included in the Responsive Traveller's Handbook published by CART for Tourism Concern in the UK
National foods are part of the culture of every land. Local food is more interesting and more tasty than the menu of the international hotels whose ingredients must often be imported. Buying indigenous food and drink saves foreign exchange and strengthens the local economy,.
Local transport possibilities abound: buses, trains, public taxis etc. These are usually inexpensive, Their use fosters contacts with indigenous people and allows you to see cities and the countryside in an authentic, everyday manner.
Getting to know the People
Hospitality is a central feature of the peoples of many countries, especially in the Third World. Traditionally, such people are polite and generous. Too often, their hospitality is abused by tourists from the world's materially richer countries.
Facade for Tourists
Travel brochures often depict only the tourist sights of the country, thus reinforcing the stereotyped tourist image of its culture. Questions need to be asked - tactfully - about current reality in that country: working and living conditions, wages and prices, the political system, language, customs, religions, the school system, and the place of women. The accuracy of the answers to these questions depends on the knowledge of your tour guide. Local guides usually know more about their own country than their colleagues who come in with groups from the materially richer countries.
Ostensibly hand-crafted souvenirs may often be made in Hong Kong, Taiwan etc.. Inquire about local handicrafts: they provide an authentic souvenir and the money paid for them, if spent at a local community outlet, is much more likely to go to the people who actually made them (Beware: local middlemen, exploiting their own people, as well as tourists can be a problem - especially in the Third World.)
It is never appropriate to acquire sacred items or items essential to daily living by any method, be it purchase at fixed price, by bargaining, or as a gift. Remember that economic conditions and cultural courtesy make it difficult for poor people to say no to their foreign visitors.
Tourism and Human Rights
Travel brochures may extol holiday destinations as paradise. However some of these destinations are in countries where People are tortured imprisoned and killed because of their convictions. Often, the presence of tourists contributes to strengthening the regime in such countries.
Voyeurism injures: Tourism of development projects or missions burdens
Many poor people are ashamed of their poverty and do not want to be viewed, photographed or engaged in conversation. Unannounced visits to see how a development project or mission is working can be burdensome. Visitors disturb normal routine and distract workers from assigned jobs. However, when arrangements are made in advance, and some form of compensation for the time and trouble expended in hospitality is agreed, then a visit is generally welcomed.
Learn from Others
Ways of understanding and doing things, and of perceiving things, are different in other cultures, especially: among people who live in countries where industrialisation and urban life is not yet into every sphere of life. There are forms of relationships between people, and between people and the natural world which we have either lost or know nothing about. These values and relationships should not crudely be written off as wrong: they are different. We must learn about them.
Whoever exposes him/herself to what seems strange, whoever searches for new knowledge, whoever allows him/herself to be touched by the problems of others, whoever enjoys the beautiful, will be changed through travel. Upon return, you will look with new eyes at your own environment. Don't fear the consequences, welcome them. This is the essence as responsive travel, of the truly re-creative, "pilgrimage" style of travel.
Is this trip necessary?
The Third World, above all, is not a refuge for industrially-sickened and business-culture-damaged refugees from the materially rich countries. Tourism has become a supermarket of illusions: selling travel to foreign/exotic lands with promises to satisfy the secret desires of consumers (tourists) who buy. Ask yourself: Why am I buying this trip? What do I leave behind? How many trips does it take to renew my soul and body? What do I do with my experiences when I return home?
"The key to humanisation of travel is the new, all-round individual. Not just a holiday-person, but a human being; aware of him/herself (and of others) and of his/her travel motives and desires: one who has learnt to be self-critical and to use his/her experience of other cultures to see him/herself in a new light. The person will have undertaken, or be prepared to undertake, what we may call an inner journey, on the way acquiring knowledge, humility and a willingness to share these qualities. Only then shall we be able to bring to travel more humanity. "
Jost Krippendorf: The Holiday Makers Heinemann Books, 1987