“Responsible tourism complies with the principles of social and economic justice and exerts full respect towards the environment and its cultures. It recognises the centrality of the local host community and its right to act as a protagonist in developing a sustainable and responsible tourism. Responsible tourism actuates to foster a positive interaction between the tourist industry, the local communities and the travelers”, defined by AITR‘s members in 2005.
In practice, this statement reflects the tendency of tour operators, aware of these issues, within their corporate social responsibility to maintain environmental sustainability, gender equality and good practices in general. They are attentive to the fact that responsible tourism is developed, designed and totally managed in such a way as not to generate social and economic inequities, especially regarding the people of the host territories.
This means that all the “actors” involved in Responsible Tourism, (the tourist, the tour organiser and the local host community) should be aware (and if they are not, we must work to ensure that they become so) and involved in a logical process that should not focus only on the needs of one actor. One in which the needs of one does not prevail over the others. It should be sustained in a dynamic in which all must respect and preserve the balance to a healthy, sustainable and profitable survival of all the protagonists of the tourism experience.
It is clear for all tourist operators that there is not a single definition of Responsible Tourism, and that it is not possible (or rather, it would be unreasonable) to give an acceptable explanation of this practice. Rather we should strive to identify it from time to time with other practices such as “responsible tourism“, “ecotourism“, “cultural tourism“, “community tourism“, “sustainable tourism” and ” fair tourism.” In fact, Responsible Tourism can be implemented through the addition of these practices in the creation of trips, properly applied and non conflictual. For each of these practices, in fact, we must recognise the true concept of “responsible tourism”. At the same time though none of them, if you want to translate them into an authentic example of responsible tourism, can claim to lack regard and respect towards the principles of responsible tourism.
In practice … Ecotourism is most definitely a good practice to focus on. Respecting our ecosystem as we do our home. If we reduce this only to the environmental aspect and do not include the basic respect towards the social aspect, then the concept is incomplete. For example, according to the principles of responsible tourism, the rights of the workers involved in the elaboration of the eco-tourism package has to be inclusive and fair, otherwise, it would not be an authentic example of responsible tourism. The risk is that this practice hides the vices and celebrates only some virtues and good practices as does the phenomenon of Green Washing.