Travel Tips 

Here’s Why Responsible Tourism is the Way of the Future

Life got turned upside down for everybody in 2020. The global pandemic has hurt a lot of industries, and tourism is one of them. From lost jobs to damaged economies, the current health crisis has shown why responsible tourism is so important to our future.
Prepared By:

Tobey Schmidt

Adventurer & Photographer

Yellowstone Boardwalk
Crowds on a boardwalk in Yellowstone National Park.

Overtourism & Crowding is a problem…enough said.

The term “overtourism” is a phrase that’s been used often within the last five years, even before social distancing was a thing. If you’ve ever hiked Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park or been to Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park, you’ve probably experienced crowds of people. Overtourism can be a problem for many reasons—damaging environments or landmarks, pushing out wildlife, increasing the property market for residents, and more. Easy spreading of infectious viruses? Add it to the list. 

What We Can Do About It

Luckily, overtourism is an issue that we can all make direct choices to fix. Travel to a destination in the off-season or shoulder-season. Avoid the “instagrammable” spots and find a hike on your own. Support true local businesses or hire a local guide. Stay in one spot longer rather than cramming everything into a few days. 

A hiker enjoying Deadhorse Point State Park in Utah.

Protect Public Outdoor Lands-They’re Good for Our Mental Health

Being stuck in quarantine these past few months has highlighted how important it is to spend time outside for our mental health. In many places, local trail and park usage have increased since the coronavirus pandemic began. People are realizing just how much they love to be outside, and we’re hoping the love sticks.

What We Can Do About It

When you’re spending time outside, whether it be on a trail or at your local park, always follow the Leave No Trace principles. In addition to practicing good outdoor ethics, you can always volunteer to clean up trash or help build better trails and infrastructure. Use your right to vote in your local elections to keep public lands public and open to the people. 

Folks enjoying live music at the Farmer’s Market in Dillon, Colorado.

Local Businesses are Fragile & Important

With all non-essential businesses, like restaurants, being forced to close their doors, it’s become apparent how important it is to spend our dollars locally. Local businesses depend on tourism, but they also depend on their own community members. They might not be necessary, but they are essential to us.

What We Can Do About It

Once travel is back to normal, try to really pay attention to where you are putting your money. Seek out local artists or family-owned restaurants. Tip your food servers well to thank them for the experience you get to have. When you’re at home, buy from your hardware store rather than from Amazon.

A petroglyph found alongside the San Juan River on Navajo lands in Utah.

We Need More than a Virtual Connection Between People and Culture

Part of responsible tourism is respecting the local culture and connecting with people on a deeper level than just a selfie. Recently, we’ve all been craving more human connection than we’re getting right now. Protecting natural and cultural heritage will allow us to make those connections in the future and maintain an enjoyable experience for travelers.

What We Can Do About It

When you travel, take time to learn about the history of the place and the people there. Find out if there is a natural history or cultural museum in the area to visit. Stay for a while, and make friends with the locals. Listen to their stories. Understand the social and environmental issues from the perspective of a local.

Responsible Tourism is the Answer

No matter where you come from or what your beliefs are, we can all agree on one thing: we love a good vacation. Responsible tourism aims to better the experience for the traveler and the community members. Being a good steward of these guidelines will ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the same experience for years to come. 

Visitors can rent electric bikes in Shasta Cascade, California to get around.

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