How to promote responsible tourism and travel to young minds?

Today there are 1.5 billion travellers across the world. Just a fraction of them or rather a negligible fraction of these travellers understand the cruciality of responsible tourism and a handful of them put them into action.

Post pandemic, we set out to break away from the routine, unleash the wanderlust, to pave a way for our free spirit, blinded by our passion. We fail to realise in this fervour to travel, we are being irresponsible with our travel and to the destinations travelled.

For many years, I was oblivious to the responsible tourism or travel. All this changed in 2015, when I first travelled to Ladakh and realised the threat caused by tourists to the place.

What is irresponsible tourism?

Irresponsible tourism comprises any activity or product that risks disrespecting, suffocating, exploiting, polluting and causing suffering in the local wildlife and human population, as well as the environment of any given destination.

All stakeholders are equally responsible or irresponsible for tourism, be it operators, hoteliers, government, tourists and locals.

The tourism industry, majority of it, fail to implement amends or educate travellers or tourists to highlight the serious issues and impacts of our travels to many destinations.

Travellers for their quest for the much needed break, just turn a blind eye to irresponsible travel.

Locals, in their rush to cater to the needs of the tourists, seek for short terms benefits, without realising that their long term is significantly jeopardised.

Through my website ecotravelleraj.com, the intent will be to educate you on responsible tourism and navigate you to think about how to be a responsible traveller and reduce your negative impact on the world.

You must be wondering what is responsible tourism!

“Tourism is a genuine driver of solidarity and development. Let us all fully harness its power to bring people and communities together, abiding by the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. This way tourism can keep delivering better opportunities and sustainable development for millions across the globe.” Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General,August 2020


But my personal favourite is a quote by the renowned American writer – John Steinbeck“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – each trip brings surprises, diversions, and discoveries. A true traveler embraces these…in fact, looks forward to them.


Before we take the first step, let’s understand certain nuances of responsible tourism. In one line  “Making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.”Responsible tourism encompasses all aspects of tourism, not just nature based, but emphasis on creating a better life for the locals and better place to visit for travellers and tourists. 

Win:win of Responsible Travel

Responsible Tourism requires that operators, hoteliers, governments, local people and tourists take responsibility, take action to make tourism more sustainable. ex. of government taking responsibility. 

  1. Devil on Wheels is an organisation covering 17 villages in the Himalayas. It was set up to help the local community that earns its living from tourism. Devil on Wheels connects local guides directly to travellers so the guides are not exploited by the middlemen. They also help tourists contribute to the villages with medicines and education kits that locals may need
  2. Kerala is the one state that is that leading the way in setting up of RT destinations. Some of these destinations are Kumarakom, Wayanad, and Kovalam. Each of these locations showcase what is known as the ‘Village Life Experience’. For example, in Kumarakom you can take a ride in a country boat, watch the toddy tappers at work, or go bow-and-arrow fishing. You will see how coconut tree leaves are used to thatch roofs and make brooms, the shell are made into card and soap holders, and actual coconut turned into oil. There are a number of RT certified hotels in Kumarakom, too.

Sustainable tourism is a vague aspiration, has been there for a long time and achieved very little.responsible tourism something different, it’s about the positive action we take to make tourism better to make it sustainable.

Dr. Harold Goodwin – RT partnership and Emeritus professor at Manchester university

Stepping outside your comfort zone isn’t easy. There are way too many changes that one has to be prepared to deal with. Especially if you are an urban teenager, travelling to a new place, with a new set of people who you haven’t met before. It’s too much to ask for, isn’t it? A new place means new people, unfamiliar cuisine, language, weather conditions and a new set of rules and customs to keep in mind! It’s not easy…

How do we reach these Urban teenagers?

Traditional Marketing – Connect with school and colleges. Arrange for live sessions to talk about travel and responsible tourism. Get environmentalist speaker and travel bloggers to give their snippets on to develop sustainable tourism, to have a positive affect on the planet.

Online marketing – Today all classes are online. The best way is to set-up a webinar or online event in association with companies promoting eco-friendly travel and tourism in different parts of India. Keep it interactive, get young travellers to share their responsible tourism experience and how has it transformed their approach to travel. How they have taken the baton to promote responsible tourism among their peers.

To know more about traditional vs Digital marketing, please read https://godigisolutions.com/traditional-marketing-vs-digital-marketing/, written by Anindya.

Also for a better understanding of digital marketing, please refer to the following blogs

 https://digitalidli.com/interesting-blogs/ by Sanjay Kini  or digitaldeepak.com, one of the best digital marketeers in India. 

Of course, we must follow the CATT method if we really want to create a tribe and keep the audiences engaged.

Content: This is crux of your marketing ammunition. The content has to be upbeat, nourishing, real and heart felt.

Examples of a well scripted articles

By Vinod Sreedhar, Founder – Journeys with Meaning https://journeyswithmeaning.org/2019/09/20/dear-teens/

By Nix Shaw, budding food blogger and founder of blogging site – OneTripHimachal.com

Attention: Has to be witty. Has to be empowering. Has to be experiential. It must be a great story, which is relatable, sharable and conversation worthy.

Trust: Don’t sound as a revolutionary. You want a tribe, not a cult. Share your learnings, your vulnerability, don’t shy away from your emotions. They will go a long way in creating a bond and eventually trust with your audiences. Get credible bloggers and environmentalists to write for your website and probably backlink your blogs as well.

Also affiliate marketing is key for building trust. To know more about affiliate marketing you could read here: https://digitalseorahul.com/top-10-best-affiliate-marketing-companies-and-programs/ by Rahul Sharma.

Transact: Finally, pitch for the programs or courses that your want them to purchase or enrol. Pricing is key, as they are the direct buyers, rather influencers for the actual buyers, in this case parents.

If you are approaching schools, you may follow the similar process of CATT and definitely personal branding. Have a professional website, social media platforms in place, with relevant and quality content.

 

CROSSDEV: What is sustainable tourism? A definition | ENI CBC Med

In conclusion, India today have more than 17Mn travellers and possibly <1% of them are aware of responsible tourism. We are travelling greedily and selfishly.

Being socially and culturally aware when you travel (i.e. use more common sense people!), understanding your affect on the places you visit and trying to make that affect a positive one.

That’s it! Not so complicated right? Imagine if even just a sizeable fraction of those 17 million travellers made a few small changes to the way they view their travels and how they interact with the cultures they visit. It could change the world it such an amazingly positive way.