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Why Responsible Travel Matters

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Why Responsible Travel Matters

One man’s holiday is another man’s hometown

Travel is freedom — it opens up your heart and mind to new places, people, and experiences. Sadly, many travellers exploit this freedom, leaving behind a mess when they’re done with the destination. But there’s more.

While the garbage littering all our beautiful Indian towns and villages is bad enough, it doesn’t stop at that.

Some tourists even harass and eve-tease the locals. Take for instance the village of Kasol in Himachal Pradesh — Israeli travellers visit and stay here for months, but Indian tourists are banned from this place. Why? Because there have been several instances of Indian men misbehaving with the locals. Isn’t that shameful? We’re definitely with the locals on this one; nobody should have to feel unsafe in their own hometown!

Indian tourist destinations are known for their rich heritage and natural beauty. The small towns of North India are especially popular for their pristine rivers and scenic landscapes. There are no fancy hotels and resorts here, and several travellers opt for homestays that are managed by local hosts. The hospitable nature of the hosts must be reciprocated with equal kindness and regard.

Keeping the place clean, respecting their culture, approaching them in a non-creepy, friendly way, and basically being responsible for what you do to their place, is all that they need from you.

Manali-based entrepreneur Vishesh Mehta, 26, explains it well: “I compare a tourist to a guest who’s visiting someone’s house. You don’t mess around or hamper with the host’s lifestyle! In the same way, a good tourist is responsible for maintaining and respecting the essence of the place he/she is visiting — without harming its environment and ecosystems that actually make it special.”

Your travel destination gives you a lot more than just good memories. The least you can do to give back is to be a responsible visitor. Keep these little tips in mind the next time you visit a place:

– Do not litter: pick up any plastic bags or bottles left behind. Also, be sure to leave the heritage structures unharmed.

– Don’t cause any damage to the wildlife and the environment, and don’t flout the rules set by the local authorities. Remember, animals are not entertainment.

– Familiarise yourself with the local customs and lingo, and have a friendly, considerate attitude towards the native communities when you interact with them.

– You can even choose to volunteer to keep the destination clean and to help the locals. In case you’re donating to an organisation, be sure that the money is reaching the right recipients.

– Choose eco-friendly hotels when possible.

– Most importantly, share these tips with your fellow travellers so they adopt the right attitude as well.

The next time you go on a holiday, keep in mind the fact that a holiday destination for you is a hometown for someone else. Be thankful for the beautiful place you visit, and the people who make it stay that way.

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A writer and explorer living her ultimate dream of travel and writing. Tishta is a seeker of spiritual legends and myths in the Himalayas. An avid reader, she can be found looking for constellations in the night sky with a telescope when not lost in the solitude of the mountains, seeking meaning to life and beyond.

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