How we behave when we’re away i.e. social impact—is something we can all do, though. Right?
“Yes. We know tourism has an effect on place, and sometimes that’s negative. But we know tourism can also be positive, and many communities depend on it for income. I don’t think taking it away is the answer—so what’s that middle ground?
Perhaps most important is to see the places we visit as someone’s home. Reading about who’s there and why before we go is a good place to start with this. Take the time to understand what’s happened in that country in the distant and recent past. It will make that experience so much richer because you understand the context for the place, the culture and the way of life.”
From there, we can do is gently keep making a positive mark as consumers. This might be to travel overland if time and funds allow, choose organizations that operate in an ethical way, for example. It’s not always easy to know what the right decision and sometimes, we’ll get it wrong, but choosing the agents and operators who genuinely care about their impact in the way they run things and who are trying to do better is key.
Look for tangible qualities and detail in operator or agent’s sustainability policies before you book—you may see they’re doing specific things to help, rather than making generalised greenwashing statements. I also always suggest people review places after they have visited on Google or other booking apps to say if a place didn’t live up to any claims, so others are aware of greenwashing.”