With the progress of the tourism industry worldwide, many countries have been clamoring for responsible tourism to preserve the attractions and destinations for future generations to enjoy.
Here in our country, the call for responsible tourism gained ground only after the ill effects of uncaring visitors and stakeholders showed its wrath on Boracay, forcing the authorities to close it for several months for rehabilitation.
Now that this “paradise island” is back on its feet again, the locals, the stakeholders, and the visitors now have to toe the line, if they want the destination to be enjoyed by future generations.
Meantime, I applaud our Department of Tourism and, of course, Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, for coming out with a handbook to remind everyone to practice responsible tourism. This has been distributed to the local government units all over the country, for their reference and strict implementation, making it clear to everyone that being mindful of what we do to our local attractions and destinations is actually taking good care of our common heritage.
Based on the guidelines published by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the handbook starts out by requesting future travelers to do some research first on their destination: to learn about local customs, traditions, and social conditions. It makes the traveler understand the local community he is going to visit and builds his excitement over his forthcoming adventure.
The handbook also recommends that the traveler learns to speak a few words of the local language, to help him connect with the residents in a more meaningful manner.
As one experiences the offerings of the destination, he should respect everything that makes the place unique—its history, architecture, dress code, manner of communication, religion, music, art, and cuisine. By doing so, the tourist’s feeling of being in a different place adds to his excitement over the trip.
Those who are fond of communing with nature are reminded to be guardians of forests, wetlands, and wildlife in their natural habitats, and to purchase souvenir products that are not made by using endangered plants or animals. It is also important that in protected areas, the traveler should access only those open to visitors.
The handbook includes a very important reminder on dealing with children in the tourist’s destination, making it clear that abusing children is a crime anywhere in the world. Respecting human rights and protecting children from exploitation should be a primary concern for the responsible traveler.
But, it also advises not to give money to children begging on the streets and support, instead, whatever community projects there may be that will benefit the local residents.
Conforming with a very popular topic these days, the handbook also recommends that the traveler should show respect to the elderly and to all genders. There should be no discrimination of sexes and one should show equal consideration, regardless of the other person’s gender preference.
It highlights the fact that, sometimes, what may be taboo to one’s culture may be the norm for another’s cultural environment.
All in all, the handbook is a simple reminder of how to be a responsible tourist. As for me, every time I travel, my mantra is: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.”
For feedback, I’m at [email protected]YOUR weekend CHUCKLE
Two campers are walking through the woods when a huge brown bear suddenly appears in the clearing about 50 feet in front of them. The bear begins to head towards them. The first guy drops his backpack, digs out a pair of sneakers and frantically puts them on. The second guy says, “What are you doing? Sneakers won’t help you outrun that bear.” “I don’t need to outrun that bear,” said the first guy, “I just need to outrun you!”
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