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Helpful suggestions for your trips to developing or emerging countries

According to UNWTO, the number of international tourist arrivals amounted to 1,2 billion in 2015. Until 2030, it is expected to have 1,8 billion foreign travellers.

Different, seemingly “exotic” cultures are tempting and long-distance travel has never been cheaper. Nearly half of all journeys go to so-called developing and emerging countries, which accounts for the significance of tourism in North-South relations. Tourism is considered one of the most important economic sectors worldwide and thereby provides opportunities for the destinations: tourism creates jobs in the hotel and hospitality industries; traditional artisanry is promoted, manufacturing of art and souvenirs as well as trade offer additional sources of income for the local population.

Therefore, developing countries expect economic growth from tourism. But there is a price to pay, because tourism might also reinforce social inequality, lead to environmental problems and overstrain local cultures.

By preparing your travels thoroughly and making socially responsible and ecologically sensitive choices you are moving towards a holiday that will become an unforgettable experience for you as well as for the people hosting you.

What does fair travel mean?

  • Respect for foreign cultures
  • Relations of partnership
  • Ecological compatibility
  • Involvement of the local population
  • Human rights are respected

12 tips for fair tourism

  • Find information

    Find information: A good preparation will help you to better understand the country and the people you visit – you will thus have more enriching experiences. Start the journey in your head! You can find information in guidebooks, specialised literature and documentaries on the radio, on television and on the Internet. Find links on www.tourism-watch.de and www.fairunterwegs.org. Good guidebooks don't only describe tourist destinations and sights, but also people and their everyday lives. You will get better insight into the lives and thoughts of people in different parts of the world by reading contemporary literature.

  • Communication

    Communication: Having some command of the English language helps a lot – don't be afraid of speaking it! When travelling to Latin America, you should at least know some basic Spanish words and in numerous regions in Africa it helps to know some French. You should at least know the commonly used words and gestures in the country you are visiting to say “Hello”, “Goodbye” and “Thank you”. Remember that there are countries in which “Thank you” is not said very frequently. Sometimes it is sufficient to smile or nod. On journals.worldnomads.com/language-guides you can download a translation app for your smartphone. It provides important words in different languages from Arabic and Khmer to Swahili and includes audio files to practise the correct pronunciation.

  • Labels for sustainable tourism

    Labels for sustainable tourism: Those labels can be useful when deciding on a destination, accommodation or tour as they show the provider's sustainability commitment beyond legal requirements. As a general rule, a label gains in credibility when it has transparent certification criteria encompassing ecological and social factors and a third-party verification. You can find a “Guide through the label jungle”, presenting 20 quality labels for accommodation providers, tour operators and travel offers here: www.fairunterwegs.org. The international online portal DestiNet offers an overview of many more certificates and describes their sustainability standards, verification procedures and geographical scope: www.destinet.eu

  • Flying and climate protection

    Flying and climate protection: The airplane is the means of transport, which harms our climate the most. One single long-distance flight already exceeds the amount of emissions that a person would be entitled to in a whole year, keeping their impact on the climate low. Global air traffic has a share of about 5 percent in man-made climate change and is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases worldwide. It is estimated that flight emissions will increase four- to sixfold over the next 40 years, if air traffic is not reduced. Tips for climate-fair travelling: Try to fly less frequently and stay in one place for a longer time. Rule of thumb: for a flight of up to 2,000 km distance you should stay at the destination for at least 8 days, for a flight of more than 2,000 km distance you should stay at least 14 days.

  • Choosing your hotel

    Choosing your hotel: Small, simple accommodations are often run by the owners themselves. The money you spend there will generally benefit the local population. However, it's especially in small businesses outside Europe that employees are ill-paid and have to work long hours. Exploitative child-labour is not uncommon either. The revenues of international luxurious hotels often benefit large corporations. On the other hand, employees often have better, or at least regulated, working conditions. You can strike a balance by choosing a medium-sized hotel run by locals. Should you remark poor working conditions or inadequate water or waste treatment, talk to the hotel management or inform your tour operator.

  • Souvenirs

    Souvenirs: Make sure that the souvenirs you buy have really been manufactured in the country you visit. You thus support local craft and the local economy. Don't secretly pick up pieces from archaeological sites and take them home. These are often precious cultural treasures that should rather be exhibited in a local museum. Don't buy products made from endangered species of flora and fauna (e.g. bags made from crocodile leather, carvings made from ivory, mounted animals). In many European countries (e.g. Germany), importing such products is liable to legal prosecution for reasons of protection of species. Inquire about import and export regulations. For example, corals intended as a souvenir can cause problems with the authorities.

  • Bargaining and haggling

    Bargaining and haggling: Colourful markets and bazaars are among the highlights of every journey. Haggling has to be learned, though. Do only haggle if you are really interested in buying something: Haggling is communication as well as game. Be fair. The more you smile while haggling, the more fun it will be. If you accept the first-mentioned price with a grim face, you will lose money and not be a partner for a fair and good trade. At oriental bazaars, a glass of tea is part of the ritual. Accepting it won't oblige you to buy anything. If you don't like haggling, you better buy in shops where there are fixed prices

  • Street hawkers

    Street hawkers: Tourism does not benefit everyone to the same degree. Locals who don't have formal jobs in tourism might try to make a living by selling self-made jewellery or food. If a street hawker approaches you at the beach, bear in mind that he or she also tries to earn a living from tourism. Be respectful towards street hawkers at the beach. They try to earn a living for themselves and their families. Don't react in an annoyed manner if their approach initially seems obtrusive. Many street hawkers are extremely poor. They often have clear minimum prices. Don't haggle mercilessly for every cent!

  • Water is a precious resource

    Water is a precious resource. It is very scarce in many tourist destinations and should not be wasted mindlessly. Inquire about the water conditions in your destination and choose hotels, which adapt their water use to the environment. Spacious hotel complexes with park-like pastures that need constant watering have tremendous water consumption. Only take short showers when water is scarce. Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth and report dripping taps. Refuse to have towels and bed linen changed every day in order to save water and chemicals.

  • Energy

    Energy: Use energy economically, especially in countries of the Global South. Do you really need air conditioning? If not, leave this power-guzzler turned off – additionally, you will avoid catching a cold. This also applies to heating: Reducing the room temperature from for example 20 to 18 degrees Celsius helps to economise 3 to 5 percent energy. If wood is scarce in the region you visit, you should refrain from a campfire, even if you really love it. Leave this precious resource to the locals who often don’t have alternatives. Make sure that kerosine and not wood is used for cooking on mountain hikes.

  • Sports and other activities

    Sports and other activities: Many adventure sports damage the environment. Climbing, mountainbiking, rafting and others sports should only be practised in areas designated for this purpose. Don’t leave any garbage behind and refrain from explorations with motorised means of transport – nature is best experienced on foot or by bicycle! Stay on marked trails, refrain from illegal camping and don’t lit a fire. Take particular care when smoking.

  • Crime

    Crime: All around the globe – and especially in tourist destinations – there is criminality. The lack of prospect for many young people and malfunctioning legal systems are reasons for criminality. Be attentive and watchful. Keep your money and documents close to your body and put valuables in various pockets. You should not be afraid, as fear won't help in any situation. Look up emergency numbers and English-speaking doctors before you start your journey.

Fair tourism – A matter of heart and mind

... by Tourism Watch – Bread for the World aims to encourage reflections on the impact of tourism and provides practical advice on how to travel respectfully and socially responsible, with humour and without wagging a finger.

We would like to thank Bread for the World for providing us with the brochure “Travelling respectfully – Tips for fair travel” for further usage.

The brochure as a little book is only available in German and can be downloaded here in PDF format as well as ordered as a print version free of charge.

Tourism is a beacon of hope nearly all over the world. It provides 240 million jobs internationally, is the most important source of foreign exchange for one in three developing countries and seems to have unlimited growth potential. The question, however, is how to make this industry development-friendly and sustainable.

Potential of tourism: Sustainable and development-friendly

International Year of Sustainable Tourism

In November 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared 2017 as the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development”. The outcome document of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development states that “well-designed and managed tourism can make a significant contribution to the three dimensions of sustainable development, has close linkages to other sectors and can create decent jobs and generate trade opportunities.”

The world’s leading travel trade show ITB in Berlin has also placed considerable emphasis on environmental and sustainability issues for a number of years now – an indication that more and more people are seeking more sustainable forms of tourism. Exhibitors wishing to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and sustainability at their stands can download helpful guidelines from the ITB’s website. There will also be a number of CSR events at this year’s show, looking specifically at issues of sustainability.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to travel anywhere in the world using any means of transport we liked without harming the climate? Is this a realistic proposal and, if so, how would it work? Are carbon offsets a genuine way of tackling climate change or are consumers simply being sold a modern form of indulgences?

Is there such a thing as climate-neutral travel?

March 2017

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