Europe Travel Survey (wordled)
Responsible Travel, Ecotourism and the Local Travel Movement in Europe

by Ron Mader (and friends)

related: europe
flickrgroup: Ecotourism Europe
editing: Europe

Global tourism has matured to offer new options for travelers wishing their journeys to be as eco-friendly, people-friendly and place-friendly as possible. Call it ecotourism, call it responsible travel, call it the local travel movement, call it whatever you'd like -- there is no standard definition used by locals and visitors alike. Most travelers simply want to have a good trip that causes no harm and most locals want to please visitors who are themselves pleasing.

A growing number of travelers want their journeys to be less invasive and more beneficial to the communities they visit. They want to better understand the culture of the places they visit. Responsible travel is treating others the way they wish to be treated. While tourism campaigns have long touted 'destinations' -- in fact we are simply entering a place that is someone else's home.

Good Practices

TAKE BOOKS AND LEAVE BOOKS - Global understanding could vastly be improved if we took (and left) better books on our trips! Once you have decided where you are traveling, email locals and ask if you can bring something. What's easily found in Australia, England or Mexico can be impossible to get in the USA. Consider this a variation of the Platinum Rule (treating others as they would like to be treated). If you have academic leanings, find out if the local libraries can use more technical materials and take them something they can use.

PICK UP THE TRASH - Actions speak louder than words. If you are concerned about the environment, show that you care by picking up trash or simply making a point of taking your trash with you. As the adage goes, 'pack it in, pack it out.'

LEARN THE LANGUAGE - Learn and use a few words starting with 'hello' and 'thank you.' If you have the opportunity, take a language class.

BE RESPECTFUL OF PEOPLE'S PRIVACY - Some people do not wish to be visited. In rural communities, wait until you are invited to approach homes or groups of people.

BE RESPECTFUL OF RESTRICTIONS - Some communities may be closed to visitors. Natural attractions might be off limits for cultural or environmental reasons. When in doubt of whether or not to proceed, ask first.

BE RESPECTFUL OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE - Traditional land owners should be acknowledged. Indigenous people working in tourism take their role of welcoming visitors and explaining their culture seriously. Recognize their connection to the land and you'll learn to see the world with a new set of eyes.

BUY LOCAL CRAFTS - If you are looking for a gift or a souvenir, patronize the arts and demonstrate your support for local culture. Buying from a local artisan can cut out 40 steps in the traditional export chain. What not to buy? Items made from endangered animals or pirated archaeological treasures.

CONTRIBUTE TO A LOCAL CHARITY - Ask around and find out which social or environmental efforts can use your time or a financial contribution. Be generous!

RETHINK TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY -'s campaign for Responsible Travel Photography asks travelers to rethink traditional photography. If you have photos of responsible travel and ecotourism in Europe, please add them to Ecotourism Europe on Flickr.