What can you do to travel responsibly?

Confused between the terms “Ecotourism”, “Sustainable Tourism”, and “Responsible Travel”? Here’s a simple explanation on the differences:

Ecotourism is a niche segment of tourism in natural areas.

Sustainable Tourism is “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.” It does not refer to a specific type of tourism, it is an aspiration for the impacts of all forms of tourism. All forms of tourism should be sustainable. The GSTC Criteria serve as the global standards for sustainability in travel and tourism.

Responsible Travel is a term used when referring to the behavior of individual travelers aspiring to act make choices according to sustainable tourism practices.

Learn more about the Difference Between Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism.

Responsible Travel: Choose Certified Sustainable Tourism Companies

Stay at accommodations and use the services of tour operators that are certified as sustainable.

“Certified to GSTC  Criteria” logo

Travelers can affect change by asking hotels and other travel providers to gain certification as the most effective means to provide strong evidence that their operations are sustainable. Choose sustainable travel companies.

Certification is a voluntary, third-party assessment, through an audit, of a tourism enterprise or destination for conformity to a standard. Certification is done by Certification Bodies throughout the world. GSTC through our partner ASI, Assurance Services International, provides accreditation to those that certify.

Accreditation means that a Certification Body (CB) awards certification according to processes that comply with international standards and good practices. Businesses certified by an Accredited CB can use the GSTC logo along with the CB’s mark.

Find Certified Sustainable Destinations
Find Certified Sustainable Accommodations

Learn how to be a responsible traveler

1) Read the short guide “The Responsible Tourist: How to find, book and get the most from your holiday” by Anna Spenceley & Andrew Rylance.

2) Read EXO Tips Booklet for responsible travelers in the following languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian

3) Take the “Travel Better Online Training” (30 minutes) to learn about planning your trip, ways to make a difference while traveling, and things you can do once you return home. By G Adventures and Sustainable Travel International (STI).

4) Read this short article with very useful infographics: Sustainable Travel: Make Sure Your Next Trip is a Green One! by Andrea Moore

5) More tips:

  • Find out as much as possible. Learn if your hotel or tour operator has been certified as sustainable. The more you know about your destination before arriving, the more the destination will come alive. Look into the destination’s history, culture, natural environment, customs, legends, advisory notices and more.
  • Learn a few words in the local language. Making an effort to speak the local language allows you to interact with the people who know the site best. People appreciate your efforts and your interest in learning. Simple words like “Hello,”“Please” and “Thank you” can go a long way.
  • Pack light. It is tempting to pack everything you think you might need, but remember to be smart about your necessities. If traveling to a developing country, the local laundry service is affordable and is appreciated income to local service providers.
  • Lodging choices. Look for hotels that have a written policy covering their environmental impact, employment and cultural policy. The best evidence that a hotel follows a broad range of sustainable practices is if they are certified sustainable by a Certifying Body that is GSTC-Accredited.
  • Explore transportation options. Remember that traveling affects the environment. Wherever possible, try to minimize your pollution and impact on the environment by looking to high-occupancy transportation and offsetting your carbon emissions.