Travel is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Exploring new countries, learning about different cultures and trying adventures is something that can change your perspectives on life forever. Being a responsible traveller is easy. It does not require much effort and in fact, it can make your experience much more authentic and real. Responsible tourism is all about leaving a positive impact on not only the environment, but also the people who live in the places you choose to visit.
The following actions are based on the World Tourism Organisations guideline to become a responsible traveller. Myanmar Voyages encourages all travellers to be responsible before, during and after your journey. Thus, we would like to share a few tips with you to be a responsible traveller.
Before you book your holidays:
- Find out about the company’s policy for responsible tourism: Myanmar Voyages’ Green Guidelines & Sustainability is shown how the company has encouraged our clients and suppliers so as practice at our administration office in Myanmar.
- Plan your trip to minimise carbon emission: We know that most international trips will require flights which is not the most environmentally friendly option. However, once you reach the destination, try to ask for alternative options such as bus or train to minimise internal flights. If there is no other way but flying, then book direct flights. Also, if you are feeling a bit guilty about carbon emission by flying, some airlines may offer an option to offset your share of carbon emissions for a few extra costs which goes directly to carbon offset projects.
Before you travel:
- Understand local cultures: Try to learn a few simple phrases such as Good Morning, Please, Thank You and use them as much as you can. You will be amazed how far you can go and be appreciated by locals. Also, do not forget to understand local customs. Learn as much as possible about your destination and take time to understand the customs, norms and traditions. Avoid behavior that could offend the locals. “Dos and Don’ts For Tourists” is a recommended guideline to understand for visitors who’s planning to travel Myanmar.
- Remove all excess packaging: Be aware that in many places in Myanmar, recycling or waste disposal is limited and complicated. So, leave packaging at home and consider buying something when you are at the destination, this will also support the local economy.
- Ask about a local conservation or social project: You can get involved with these projects while you are travelling. But please be noted that do not involve or support visits to orphanages on holidays.
During the holidays:
- Hire a local guide: When hiring a local guide, you will get to experience the destination with someone who knows what is like to live there, the culture and everything that destination is all about. It is also an excellent way to support a local economy.
- Shop with a conscience: Avoid products that are made from endangered species and do not take things out of their natural environment. Try to buy locally-made and traditional handicrafts as it is a good way of providing both economic and cultural support for small communities. If you are bargaining, please do not get carried away or pushy that might offend to the locals. The goal is to find a fair price for both-ends, not the lowest possible.
- Respect people and cultures: This may sound obvious, but we need to be reminded because not every culture is the same. You may think that it is okay to take endless photos without asking, or being unnecessarily noisy, or dress a certain way and so, it is important to keep in mind that you are in a different place and there are codes you need to respect. Think you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. If you are not sure, ask our travel consultants and they will guide you what is appropriate and what is not depending on your destination. For example, take your shoes off during the visits to pagodas and temples.
- Use public transport: It is a great way to meet local people on their own terms and of course reduce pollution and carbon emission, plus you will be helping the local economy.
After the holiday:
- Write comments and feedback about your holiday to your travel company, hotel, restaurants or tourist board. The suggestions on reducing environmental impacts and increasing benefits to local communicates are always welcome. For any serious issues regarding the human rights abuse or wildlife exploitation for tourism, you may want to contact relevant charities or organisations.
- If you are promised to send photos or gifts to local people, remember to do so.
- Enjoy your memories and reflect on your experience and of course, start planning the next trip by acknowledging the previous points before embarking on your next journey.
Myanmar Voyages is committed to building a more sustainable future and becoming a responsible player in the tourism industry. If you wish to know more about the community development activities in which we are engaged, feel free to ask us!