It’s a sad truth that animals are caught in the wild and are then subsequently forced to entertain tourists against their will. Too often “influencers” and regular tourists take pictures alongside these animals to show how pleasant their travel experience has been, but this ignores the plight of the animals. This practice of exploiting animals needs to stop. Last year, National Geographic released a great expose on how animals are being treated in many tourist-friendly places (primarily in South East Asia) and how tourists themselves contribute to the animal abuse.
People have become aware of this horrible practice and are instead going to sanctuaries instead. Still, not every ethical place operates, errr ethically. At the very least they are an improvement to the current popular practices seen around the world. I took the picture above at the Elephant Conservation Centre in Laos.
What you can do to help stop animal abuse in the tourism industry:
-Stop liking pictures with animals in it
-Comment on the posts saying you hope the person went to an ethical place
-Donate to an animal sanctuary
Meena’s life is set to follow the same trajectory as many of the roughly 3,800 captive elephants in Thailand and thousands more throughout Southeast Asia. She’ll perform in shows until she’s about 10. After that, she’ll become a riding elephant. Tourists will sit on a bench strapped to her back, and she’ll give several rides a day. When Meena is too old or sick to give rides—maybe at 55, maybe at 75—she’ll die. If she’s lucky, she’ll get a few years of retirement. She’ll spend most of her life on a chain in a stall.
Over tourism of popular sites, and entire cities, has gotten so out of hand that Venice, Amsterdam, and a handful of other cities have concerned adding a daily fee to tourists just to be in the city. Everyone knows this isn’t a good solution as it won’t impact the wealthy tourists who can afford it, meaning travelling to famous sites will be something only the rich can afford. Instead, if you are going to travel you should think before you go. Anybody who’s been to the Louvre knows that the Mona Lisa is a waste of time, yet everyone goes. Before following the hordes of tourists blindly being led from Instagram site to Instagram site you ought to think for yourself.
“The question is, do you want to go to a place – or show people you’ve been to the place?” says Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission.
“Half the reason people have superficial travel experiences is because they’ve made superficial plans,” says journalist Becker. She encourages people to do more than read a paragraph in a guide book or copy friends on Facebook, then parachute into a city and get the same selfie they did. Otherwise, you risk committing what Becker calls “drive-by tourism”, which stokes many of the symptoms of over-tourism, like overcrowding and irritating locals.
Another strategy is to ask yourself what you really want to do and see, rather than seeing something for the sake of seeing it. Becker recommends not doing things you wouldn’t do back home. If you don’t like museums, for example, don’t clog up the Louvre and whiz through without a clue what you’re seeing, she says.
Vacations aren’t things that should be “efficient” or viewed as a quantifiable experience. Instead, we can use existing research to prepare for a vacation and enjoy it while out and about. Basically, relax by changing your mindset around vacations from an epic journey to a chance to be with people in new places.
2. OPT FOR QUANTITY OVER “ONCE IN A LIFETIME”
A once-in-a-lifetime trip, like a month in New Zealand, would be amazing. But the “once-in-a-lifetime” aspect of such vacations limits their overall contribution to happiness. Research increasingly finds that we return to previous happiness levels fairly quickly (we spend life on the “hedonic treadmill”), and so smaller pleasures experienced frequently contribute more to overall well-being than major but less infrequent ones. Another studyfound that the health and wellness benefits of a vacation peaked at about eight days in. So look for already-shortened workweeks for getaways so you can plan several eight-day vacations (weekend plus workweek plus weekend) in a year for the price of three to four vacation days a pop.
UNESCO added eight new sites to their ‘Global Geopark.’ The sites each demonstrate the amazing and great geology of our planet, and the diversity of Earth. The new locations are spread around the world including China, France, Mexico, and Iran (in the video above). If you go to these destinations remember to travel as efficiently and eco-consciously as possible.
UNESCO Global Geoparks are territories that promote geodiversity through community-led initiatives to enhance regional sustainable development. They help monitor and promote awareness of climate change and natural disasters and many of them help local communities prepare disaster mitigation strategies.
With this year’s eight additions, the world network now numbers 127 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 35 countries. They celebrate the 4.6-billion-year history of our planet and the geodiversity that has shaped every aspect of our lives and societies. Furthermore, Geoparks create opportunities for sustainable tourism, whose importance has been recognized by the United Nations, which named 2017 as International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
“Voluntourism” is the growing trend of rich people using their vacations to go to poor places where they think they can help. A good chunk of the time these voluntourists are actually causing harm. This may seem counterintuitive but we’ve seen this before in the past with programs of the ‘adopt a child’ sort (you know, a nickel a day will save one kid).
The campaign to End Humanitarian Douchery wants to change that. If you’re not careful you’ll be engaging in modern neocolonial offensiveness.
Research slothery: A lack of research could lead to supporting unethical organizations or performing work a host community doesn’t even need.
Lusting for likes: When people flaunt their experiences on social media as “heroes” who are “saving” the third world.
Fishing for envy: When volunteers go on trips to make themselves look good and others jealous.
“You can tell that this is a trend that’s growing,” Guan says. “I’ve seen so many of my peers jet off to developing countries and try to save the world — and it’s great — but the thing is, even when you go in with best intentions, you can do more harm than good.”