Responsible travel – how much is my individual responsibility?

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According to the article, Venice has lost residents due to mass tourism

When I think of travel and bucket listing, I generally think of traveling “everywhere,” not limiting myself. But there are a few times when my dedication to responsible bucket listing takes priority (for example, indefinitely delaying the floating sky lanterns list item due to its illegality in my area).

So, when CNN Travel published an article titled “12 destinations travelers might want to avoid in 2018,” it made me reconsider my ideas of bucket list travel.

It’s actually a very interesting read, and despite first appearances, it’s so much more than your everyday clickbait. Here’s the summary, in case you don’t have time to read the whole article.

The Big Picture

People who live, work, and govern several famous destinations are concerned with the large numbers of tourists that come every year (and in some places, every day).

Here are a list of some of the concerns:

  • increased demand on infrastructure that wasn’t set up for that many people
  • challenge of preserving history and culture while being over crowded
  • impact on the natural environment
  • growing economic dependence on the tourist industry
  • crowding out or pricing out local residents

Because of these concerns, these places use strategies to reduce tourism. This could include charging access fees, putting limits on the total number of visitors, and adding restrictions like requiring guides or showing proof of return airline tickets.

The article also makes suggestions for each of the places it lists, including tips for “if you must go” and similar alternatives if you choose to skip a place altogether.

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The article reports the Galapagos Islands have added rules to protect the habitat

My Thoughts (for now, still forming)

In general, recommendations seem to come down to respect for people and places when you travel, wherever you travel.

But I realize that while individually, each person could be respectful, as a whole, the sheer number of travelers could still be overwhelming the culture, economy, environment, etc. It might be similar to “If everyone took only one flower from this garden, pretty soon, there would be no flowers left” (something my mom used to have to say to me).

Because of this, I’m wondering where the line is regarding my individual responsibility and what to consider when deciding where I’ll travel. It’s something I’m still figuring out.

Your thoughts…

What does “responsible travel” mean to you? What do you think about avoiding certain places because of the impact on that place and its people? Leave a comment.

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