THE United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently released a new “Travel.Enjoy.Respect” handbook as part of a global public awareness program on how be a responsible tourist.
The handbook contains dos and don’ts of responsible traveling, and aims to underscore the social, political, cultural, and economical repercussions of mass tourism. According to Hindustan Times, last year alone saw 1.24 billion travelers crossing international borders; the figure is expected to increase to 1.8 billion by 2030.
Here are a few tips laid out in the handbook:
- Learn to speak a few words in the local language. This can help you connect with the local community in a more meaningful way.
- Always ask before taking photographs of other people as it’s a matter of privacy.
- Buy products that aren’t made using endangered plants or animals.
- Refrain from giving money to begging children and support community projects instead.
- Be a respectful traveler/Observe national laws and regulations.
- Respect human rights and protect children from exploitation. Abusing children is a crime.
- Do not buy counterfeit products or items that are prohibited by national/international regulations.
- Buy locally-made handicrafts and products.
- In protected areas, access only the places open to visitors.
- Take appropriate health and safety precautions prior to and during your trip.
- Research well before engaging with “voluntourism”.
The campaign comes amid ongoing discussions on overtourism in major cities such as Florence and Barcelona. Locals in those cities have staged anti-tourism protests over concerns that tourists were behaving badly or overcrowding public spaces and affecting the daily routines of locals.
The situation escalated in Barcelona last month when reports emerged of tourists being egged and masked youths attacking tourists. Bloomberg reported that some locals increasingly viewed tourists as a burden rather than an economic boon.
In Florence, tourists have been accused of displaying uncivil behavior, resulting in many Italian cities resorting to bans such as curbing outdoor drinking at night, food trucks and street hawkers, or drinking near fountains.
“Whenever you travel, wherever you travel, remember to respect nature, respect culture, and respect your host,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai in a statement. “You can be the change you want to see in the world. You can be an ambassador for a better future.”
The campaign will run in several languages and outlets around the world. 2017 marks the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.