There was some bad press this summer, particularly in Spain, where locals got very vocal about the impact that over tourism is having on their home towns. Mallorca and Barcelona come to mind as two areas that have seen a huge mass tourism boom in recent years and residents have angrily voiced their feelings about the results they witnessed.
I by no means support the way that they handled this situation. I am a true believer that we should all travel and explore places we have never been to. Also, these towns need our tourism, the money we spend on holiday helps to support local businesses and the overall area economy.
However, as tourists we need to remember that local people live in the places we visit for just a few hours or a few days. I think there are some things we can do to reduce the overall negative perception of tourism.
Things that will help us to be good tourists…
The easiest way to stop negative tourism is to reduce the current affect we are having as tourists. Being active in conscious travel and sustainable travel are two ways that we can really help.
“Conscious” = awake, thinking & knowing what is happening around you
“Sustainable” = causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue over a long time
I do feel that big package holiday companies, tour operators and cruise companies need to make some vital changes. But if we as holiday-makers start to implement some small changes ourselves, we will be taking a step in the right direction.
Some simple ways that we can have a more conscious and sustainable holiday…
Behave in the same way that you would in your own home town. Don’t leave rubbish behind or vandalize in any way. Be aware of what you are wearing in certain places and that your behaviour is always respectful to your surroundings. Pay attention to signs or posters with restrictions like ‘no touching’ or ‘no photos’ and leave things exactly as you found them.
Go with the flow
Many places we go abroad on holiday to run at a different pace to back home. Don’t fight it if the crowd is walking slowly down the street. Don’t get angry if the waiter is taking ages to bring your drinks. Just relax, you are on holiday and go with the flow and whatever relaxed lifestyle surrounds you.
Learn some phrases
Locals will really appreciate you attempting to speak their language. Even if it’s just a few key phrases, don’t be afraid to try. A simple phrase book or translation app on your phone will work. Even if your pronunciation isn’t perfect, it will come across to locals much better then you expecting them to speak your language.
Be open minded
On holiday you will see, hear and taste things that you don’t get back home, that’s part of the fun. Don’t try to change local customs, traditions and flavours to match what you are used to. That will only lead to them losing their local identity. Be open to new experiences and embrace the differences.
Buy local goods
Wherever possible buy from a small independent shops or restaurants. These businesses really rely on us to ensure they survive. Try not to only buy from your hotel or the big supermarket. Small things like buying bottled water from a local shop, souvenirs from street stalls and having lunch at a family run café all make a difference.
Don’t be loud and disruptive
If you are walking by houses or you are entering a scared place lower your speaking tone. Try not to travel in big groups, particularly through narrow streets or in small shops. Breaking into smaller groups where possible will make it easier for you to interact with locals and cause much less disruption.
Going on holiday is all about having fun and relaxing but the more conscious we are of our behaviour and actions the better. I would hate to live in a world where beautiful towns, villages or beaches are open only to those who live there.
Do you believe you are a good tourist? Do you have any other good ideas or advice on how we can be better tourists? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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