Vlamings says there are many measures travellers can take to mitigate their negative impact on a destination.
“It starts by educating themselves on the cultural norms and traditions of where they are going, and being respectful, responsible visitors — we should always remember we are guests in other people’s homes when we travel. A nice place to visit must be a nice place to live,” she explains. “Travellers should make sure the tour companies they use demonstrated sustainable business practices such as buying from local owned businesses, fighting the plastics pollution, supporting wildlife conservation organizations and adhering to animal welfare and child safe policies.”
Staying in local hotels and eating in local restaurants are critical sources of revenue, especially now when tourist communities are not seeing very many visitors is another means of leaving a positive impact.
“Travellers can also offset their carbon emissions, reduce their plastics use, use less harmful sunscreens on coral reefs, and support indigenous owned businesses and organizations,” she adds.
Overall, Vlamings says tour companies can balance the need for tourism with whether or not its responsible to operate there by operating their businesses responsibly.
“They can partner with local communities and work with governments to make sure tourism is inclusive and not exploitive, that ecosystems and culture aren’t being degraded by the number and actions of visitors, and develop partnerships with NGO’s and social enterprises to ensure their business is contributing to the health and well being of a destination,” she says.