Minimise Negative Impacts of Tourism
LevArt believes in promoting Responsible Tourism, namely minimizes negative impacts on three major aspects in travel destinations – environmental, social, and economic. To sum it up, travelers should:
- Make positive contributions to the conservation of natural, environmental, and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world’s diversity;
- Provide more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues; and be culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence;
- Generate greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, improves working conditions and access to the industry.
LevArt aspires to integrate and instill such values into the tours it organizes, and below are some ideas on how we could all work together to achieve desirable results.
What can a traveler do?
Respecting local culture and heritage is important, and respect usually stems from understanding. Prior to departure, a traveler should do some homework and reading; learn more about the history, culture, religion, and developmental issues on travel destination.
The world is full of diversity, from natural surrounding to culture, value system, and lifestyle; and diversity is one of the appealing factors that draw travelers to strange lands, and to discover new things. Maintain an open-minded attitude when communicating with locals in travel destination, and accept differences with a positive attitude. As a guest in the hosting community, we should not demand the locals to change their way of life for our convenience sake, but we should learn to adapt.
The mindset of I’m a paying customer, thus I’m entitled to special treatment; or the notion of I’m from a big city, a more developed country, thus I know better, this sense of superiority could hamper meaningful connections with the locals in travel destination. Interaction with host communities should be done on an equal basis, both sides (host and guest) could learn from each other, our differences in the way of life and thinking could inspire each other. Do not take the locals’ hospitality and friendliness for granted, and refrain from imposing your own value and belief system on others.
Social Etiquette & Dress Code
Be mindful of local customs and taboos. In some destinations, especially in religious places and pilgrim sites, dressed modestly, avoid tight-fitting and revealing clothes, miniskirt, shorts, and cover your head with scarf if necessary. We agree that how one dressed is entirely a personal choice and individual freedom, but we shall refrain from intentionally provoke or challenge the social norms in a host community.
Photography & Filming
Most travelers would take photographs or record video on a journey, especially on exotic images, such as locals dressed in interesting traditional attire. But be sensitive to the feeling of the subject you are filming; having a dozen of cameras pointing at you simultaneously may be unnerving for some. If a subject declined to be photographed, please respect his/her wish. In addition, avoid giving money in exchange of photographing locals, this may encourage begging.
Avoid polluting the nature. In some areas, there’s a lack of waste management system, when necessary, clean up before you leave, take the waste with you until you reach a city with proper disposal system. You could help to cut generating less non-degradable waste by carrying your own recycle shopping bag, decline the use of plastic bags when shopping in travel destination.
Conserve water, use water sparingly when taking showers, or doing laundry. Water is a precious commodity throughout the world. Do not use soap and shampoo in lakes, rivers, and hot springs; do not answer your “nature’s call” too close to the source of water when trekking in the nature.
Food & Shopping
Always consume local products in preference of imported goods. Dine in local restaurant, try out local cuisine and specialty, food is an integral part of local culture and by trying local food, you are directly supporting local economy. When shopping for souvenir, favor local markets, and best if you could buy handicrafts directly from the makers. Do not buy illegal/ protected/ endangered articles as souvenir, such as souvenir made of near extinct plant or animal.
Donation & Free Gifts
Please avoid giving money, sweets, stationary, etc, to impoverish children, this could encourage begging. Dishing out money, donation, and free gifts carelessly would establish an unequal status between the giver and the receiver. The act may make the giver “feel good” for having done “good deeds”, but at the same time could be condescending to the “receiver”, and could perpetuate a dependency mentality in the later, and that will not help to solve poverty problem in host communities. Contribute to local economy by spending on local products and services instead.
If you truly wish to make donation for a good cause, choose carefully local welfare/ non-profit organizations to deliver your money or materials, make sure the organizations engage the locals in decision making, and truly channel the benefits to local communities.
The Rights for Development
Everyone deserves a better life, and has the rights to strive for a higher standard of living. Development may alter the economic and social fabric of a society, but the wishes of local communities for better life should be respected. As a traveler, you may share you insights/ suggestions/ thoughts on balanced development with locals, but do not impose your values on them.