Monday, 3 May 2010

Responsible Travel and Tourism

Welcome to this week's Blog

Our theme this week is Responsible Travel and Tourism.

Many hotels, resorts, attractions , tour operations and industry suppliers claim to be eco friendly and promote Responsible Travel & Tourism, but really is everyone doing enough to justify their claims?

These days we live in a world where development in an environmentally friendly way is of the upmost importance. Tourism in the past has been seen to have had both positive and negative impacts on the world's environment as a whole, whilst creating much needed infrastructure and employment this has sometimes been done at the expensive of the natural environment.
Nowadays, because of the global warming issues we currently face, we as an industry are recognizing this and waking up to the reality, that we all must change our outlook and act with responsibility, hence this week's title, Responsible Travel and Tourism.

There are many ways you the traveler can act with responsibility on your holidays and be friendly to the environment, firstly, travel in a more eco friendly way, consider cycling, hiking and trekking as alternatives to buses, cars and trains for shorter distances. Try to choose hotels which offer eco friendly programs, where they promote the use of re-cycled materials throughout the hotel and have eco friendly programs. Some hotels have even gone as far as having their room designs based completly on recycled materials, being used to decorate and facilitate rooms and furnishings.

Responsible Travel is also about supporting the local economies and environment of the people and the places in which they live by bringing a sustainable income to the regions. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the hill-tribe villages throughout Asia and Indochina.

These people have had their own ways of life for generations such as the Black Hmong in the Sapa Valley in Vietnam. By respecting their ways, we can learn alot from these tribes people, as they too have to live off of the land and what the land naturally gives them. Encouraging purchases of souvenirs produced locally by these people, also acts responsibly, as it supports their own sustainable growth and development of their local economy.

Trying adding to your holiday adventure, by including a tour that visits Hill tribe villages, handicraft workshops, or take on the experience for yourself, and stay a few days with the locals, on one of the many authentic Home-stay programs available.
Choose a tour where the operator has a firm commitment to Responsible Travel and Tourism and their programs reflect this, such as the Mekong Discovery Trail in Cambodia, which runs tours through the Cambodian Jungles, alongside the Mekong River from the Laos Border all the way to Phnom Pehn. This program was set up to bring a sustainable income to the people in the region through tourism, and Xplore-Asia is actively involved within the operation and training for the program in this region.

Tree planting programs in Southern Laos are another aspect of Responsible and Sustainable tourism development on-going in the Indochina region. Both Cambodia and Laos offer outstanding cycling and trekking experiences too, allowing you to contribute to responsible tourism, first hand.

Choosing your operator is of paramount importance, one which cares for the environment and offers tours that actively reflect this. Now you can select your operator easily by referring to 'green travel market' a website that list Responsible Travel and Tourism operators throughout the world.

This website has been set up as part of a program organized by the Non-profit making organization 'Sustainable Travel International' whose main goal is to provide unbiased information, industry training, assistance and accreditation to the Responsible Travel and Tourism Industry as a whole, providing a recognized logo worldwide, to assure you the traveler, that the hotel, tour, product that you have bought, is up to standard and satisfies the quality and guidelines laid out, to be classed as a Responsible Travel and Tourism Operation.

Xplore-Asia has proudly recently been accepted by’ Sustainable Travel International‘as a valid organizer of Responsible Tourism Tours and programs, and over the coming weeks and months will be contributing to the development of STI’s programs with submissions and will also be listed on the Green Travel Market website, where you will find more information on Green and Responsible programs in general.

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