Learn to speak a few words in the local language and make sure your purchase isn’t made with endangered plants or animals. These are some of the tips from the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s new “Travel. Enjoy. Respect” handbook. It is part of a global public awareness program that comes with a manual on how to be a responsible tourist.
The launch comes amid a tourism crisis in Europe this summer, where locals across Spain and Italy have been staging anti-tourism protests in response to unsustainable visitor numbers, and incidents of tourists behaving badly in their cities. Visitors to Barcelona are being greeted with messages like “Tourists go home” and “Stop destroying our lives” pasted onto lamp posts and scribbled on walls.
In a bid to curb acts of hooliganism and restore civility in their streets, Italian cities like Rome, Turin, Florence and Milan have resorted to bans on everything from outdoor drinking after nightfall, food trucks and street hawkers to eating and drinking near historic fountains. Most recently, Florence issued a thinly veiled warning to visitors in a tourism campaign dubbed #EnjoyRespectFirenze,” reminding tourists that any display of uncivil behaviour will be met with hefty fines.
“Whenever you travel, wherever you travel, remember to respect nature, respect culture, and respect your host,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai in a statement. “You can be the change you want to see in the world. You can be an ambassador for a better future.” The UNWTO’s travel campaign will launch in various languages and outlets around the world.
Here are some of tips from the UN handbook:
* Honour your hosts and our common heritage.
* Learn to speak a few words in the local language. This can help you connect with the local community in a more meaningful way.
* Always ask before taking photographs of other people as a matter of privacy.
* To protect our planet, purchase products that aren’t made using endangered plants or animals.
* Reduce your water and energy consumption when possible.
* In protected areas, access only the places open to visitors.
* To support the local economy, buy locally-made handcrafts and products. Respect livelihoods of local vendors and artisans by paying a fair price.
* Do not buy counterfeit products or items that are prohibited by national/ international regulations.
* Take appropriate health and safety precautions prior to and during your trip. Know how to access medical care or contact your embassy in case of an emergency.
* Research well before engaging into voluntourism.
* Observe national laws and regulations. Respect human rights and protect children from exploitation. Abusing children is a crime.
* Refrain from giving money to begging children and support community projects instead.