How to Be a Responsible Tourist

Travel tips to help you be the best tourist you can be when you’re in someone else’s home country.

Tourism is a massive industry. According to the UN, 1.3 billion tourists travel internationally each year and the tourism sector represents one in 10 jobs globally as a result. Tourism is also an industry that is expected to grow 3 per cent each year until 2030. It's part of the reason why the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) encourages industry discussion on thoughtful, inclusive, and sustainable growth.

Sustainable tourism however, isn’t just the responsibility of those who work in travel. Travellers also have a role to play. As more and more people embrace travelling, the UNWTO encourages tourists to be a responsible traveller.

How to Be a Responsible Tourist

What does it mean to be a responsible traveller?

There are five guiding principles (along with a variety of tips) for being a responsible traveller, according to the UNWTO:

  1. Honour your hosts
    Before embarking on your travels, learn about the local customs, traditions and social conditions of your destination. Try to learn a few words and common phrases in the local language. Once there, respect and embrace what makes the destination different from your home country; its history, architecture, religion, dress codes, music and food, for example. In a nutshell, be a good guest.
  2. Protect the planet
    Leave the smallest footprint possible while travelling. Respect wildlife and their habitats and don’t purchase products that are made from threatened plants or animals. In environmentally-protected areas stick to the places that are open to visitors.

    Be mindful of your transportation choices too: walk, cycle, take public transportation or the train where possible instead of hiring a car. And even though you don’t have to pay the water or energy bill where you’re staying, try to limit your consumption: take shorter showers, unplug your devices once they’re recharged, and turn off the lights when you leave for the day’s adventure.

  3. Support the local economy
    Buy locally-made souvenirs and pay a fair price for them. Also, don’t buy anything that you know to be counterfeit or that may be prohibited either within the country itself or by the Canada Border Services Agency upon your return home. Support local stores, restaurants and businesses to get a feel for the true vibe of the area you’re visiting.
  4. Be an informed traveller
    Prior to leaving, take the precautions necessary to safeguard your health and safety while travelling. To this end, review the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories on the destination you’ll be visiting to learn about:

    • known safety and security concerns for the area
    • vaccinations that may be required
    • where to find the closest Canadian consulate or embassy

    The Government of Canada also strongly encourages travellers to get travel insurance before you embark on your trip because: “Your Canadian insurance is almost certainly not valid outside Canada. Your provincial or territorial health plan may cover nothing or only a very small portion of the costs if you get sick or are injured while abroad.”

  5. Be a respectful traveller
    Following the law never takes a vacation, so when you’re travelling make sure you observe the laws and regulations of the country you’re visiting and respect the human rights of all the people you encounter. Also, don’t pocket natural, historic or cultural relics or artefacts for a memento of your trip; take a photo instead.

Where in the world will you be travelling to next?

Whether it’s by plane, train, boat or car, wherever your travels take you be the best traveller you can be and remember to: Travel. Enjoy. Respect.