Lisa's Ecotourism Tips

I love to travel, especially to "undisturbed, natural" places. Here are some tips from Utne Reader about how to best travel without destroying that which you are going to see. It really, really bothers me to go somewhere gorgeous like Ireland, and to see US tourists complaining about the lack of McDonalds, or about the roads, or about all these things that are what they came to Ireland to see! If they wanted to see the US, they should have stayed there.

Ask Yourself:
  • Why am I taking this trip?
  • What environmental impact will I have on the country I visit?
  • What natural resources will I consume getting to and from the country?
  • Will I be supporting a repressive regime by traveling to this country?
  • Is my tour operator committed to strong ethical and environmental standards?
  • Who owns the hotel where I will stay?
  • Will my tastes increase the demand for food, goods, and services from my homeland?
  • What will I leave behind?
  • Will my purchases support the local economy?
  • Were local people forced out to make room for tourist development?
  • Have I educated myself about local customs and culture?
  • Does my presence create or improve local jobs?
  • How will my presence influence young people?
  • Will I have an opportunity to involve myself in the local community?
  • After I return home, what will I do with my experiences?

I make a strong effort when I visit somewhere to learn all about the area. I read history books, literature and poetry from the region, watch movies about it, try to see what they’re about and what I’ll be seeing.

One memory sticks in my mind, when I was 17 and travelling to Puerto Vallarta with my family. My sister and I were hanging out with two young boys when an older guy came along and started harassing my sister. An older native told the boys to leave him alone, but they were furious. The couldn't see why, in their own town, they had to defer to a rich, obnoxious tourist who was obviously doing something wrong. I think the rights of the natives should always be much more important than the rights of someone who comes in to force his or her views on them.

Lisa's Travelogues - main page