Responsible Travel and Cultural Sensitivity

Responsible Travel and Cultural Sensitivity

Responsible Travel and Cultural Sensitivity

Take 3 for the Sea

Green Getaways

January 2019

Responsible Travel and Cultural Sensitivity

When it comes to responsible travel and cultural sensitivity, there are a number of guidelines which will get any traveller through most situations.

Before you depart on any trip, take the time to understand the cultural sensitivities of the country you will be visiting.  The information you discover should inform your attitudes, behaviour and attire for the duration of your journey.

Do Your Research

When visiting a country you are unfamiliar with, try doing a bit of research beforehand to gather some insight into local values and culture. Read the local newspapers online before you go to find out more about the religious, cultural and social norms of the country to which you will be traveling, as well as the history and recent politics of the area. With Facebook and the internet making all this easily available, this is not a huge call, but can make all the difference to your understanding of the country you are visiting. And being informed gives you interesting and relevant things to talk about with locals, and it shows them you care about the issues facing them.

Dressing Appropriately

As a tourist, picture yourself as a guest entering someone’s home. This is the ideal attitude of anyone visiting a foreign country or culture. If the local community take their shoes off before entering another’s house or place of worship, do likewise and take your shoes off. Similarly, if the local people are made uncomfortable by T shirts with no sleeves in public places, then wear shirts with sleeves. It is not really that hard. The way you dress is something you have complete control over. People have different views on how far you should take this—especially for women traveling in religiously conservative cultures. And surely it goes without saying to avoid wearing T shirts with offensive slogans. (Australian tourists in Bali and Thailand – we’re looking at you!)




Take the time to research how locals dress in various situations, especially for cultural or religious events. And you’ll find that you stand out less if you make an effort to dress more like a local. Dressing appropriately is just basic good manners and would seem like common sense, but it is an unfortunate aspect of travel that many people abuse the enormous privilege of visiting another’s country.


Speaking the Language

Most of us end up in countries where we cannot speak the local language and have to resort to body gestures to communicate with others. Take a few minutes to read up on what hand gestures are used, or could be offensive in the places where you are travelling. Similarly, a few basic phrases, even just a simple ‘thank you’ and ‘hello’ will go a very long way to demonstrate that you respect the local language and culture and will get you started communicating in a culturally relevant and appropriate manner. Accompanied by a few hand gestures and a genuine smile, this is the bare minimum that will get you by in a variety of common travel situations. It will also make you more confident and comfortable in everyday situations like transport and ordering food in local eateries. And with countless new language apps available, there are really no excuses for not having few basic phrases ready to go.

Remember that you are just a visitor. 

You should leave as little trace as possible.

Travel Photography

Travel photography should always be approached from a place of respect. Always ask before taking a photo. Just think of a reverse situation- someone taking a photo of you without asking permission. This came home to me once when a small group of tourists entered the property I owned at one stage in my life, to take photos of our “cute cottage” and the local kangaroos. I was shocked at how it may me feel and this feeling has stayed with me ever since.




If it is not possible to ask whether it is OK to take a photo, be willing to forgo the opportunity or ask a trusted friend or guide who is comfortable enough to tell you “no.” Remember that there are parts of the world where it is genuinely believed that a camera captures the soul. Do a bit of research before you travel and try to understand local attitudes towards photography. Be aware of when you could offend someone whose religion or culture opposes its practice. Be willing to forget the photograph if it feels intrusive or exploitative. Make sure you’re not taking a photograph when it would be disrespectful – such as at a religious site. And it is not difficult to work out that taking photos of people’s faces without their consent is a no-no; it is not only considered exploitative by many, but rude and arrogant by just about everyone.

Remember that you are just a visitor. Never assume that your knowledge, medicine, food, or equipment are better than the locals’.

You should leave as little trace as possible, whether it be on the environment or with the cultural practice of the people. Being culturally sensitive, abiding by the local customs and behaving like the guest that you are, allows you to experience deep, authentic moments with the people that you meet.  In the end, following the guidelines above will enrich your travels and turns precious moments of interaction into lifelong memories.


How to be Responsible Tourism Accommodation: First Steps

How to be Responsible Tourism Accommodation: First Steps

How to be Responsible Travel Accommodation : First Steps

Green Getaways

Take 3 for the Sea

November 2018


How to Be a Responsible Tourism Operator: First Steps

In 2019, the way forward for many travellers is responsible tourism. Responsible travel is a new type of travelling, for people who want to reduce the impact that they are having on the environment as they travel. And these travellers are looking for places to stay that will help them minimise their impact on the environment.

Although this may seem a bit overwhelming at the beginning, there are a few practical steps you can take to make your accommodation more environmentally friendly. First and foremost, you will need to create an environmental policy, so you know what you are already doing and how you can improve. Your policy will need to set achievable and realistic targets will enable you to continually reduce the negative impacts of your business, while increasing the positive effects your operations have on the social and physical environment.  

Water use

• Conduct a water audit to figure out where your accommodation is consuming the most water
• Offer guests the opportunity to choose cleaning of their rooms and changing of towels every second day or on request in order to avoid water waste.

Support for Local Charities or Conservation Groups

• Donate to local conservation groups, and invite your guests to do the same
• Offer information about local conservation efforts to tourists who are interested in getting involved, demonstrating how much you care about your local community
• Invite local conservation leaders to lead tours of the local environment, (or lead them yourself!) and invite guests to come along and take the opportunity to learn more about conservation.


Recycling and composting

If you intend to take responsible tourism seriously, recycling and composting are a must.
• Create a composting bin and use it to start your own garden
• Place recycling bins throughout your accommodation. Train your staff to use them properly, and leave information for guests to guide them on what should be thrown away and what should be recycled.


Recycling bins


Responsible Use of Food

  • Source food as locally as possible and serve food that is seasonal to your area, rather than having it transported halfway across the world.
  • Serve fish that has been farmed sustainably.
  • Look for food items that have a fair trade label.


Energy Use

• Install solar panels to generate your own clean electricity.
• Use timer switches and thermostats to control your heating system’s output.
• Get low-energy lighting like fluorescent tubes or LED light fittings.
• Purchase energy-efficient rated units when replacing appliances.


Responsible tourism will help your business become more successful as new marketing opportunities open up in an evolving and expanding space.


Local Economy

  • Source your supplies locally to support your local community
  • Recommend local guides and suggest to your guests that they eat at locally owned restaurants.  Keeping the profit in the community will both ensure that the destination continues to exist and the local community can prosper.
  • Supply information about public transport in the local area.
  • Promote growth within your local economy by hiring nearby residents and using as many locally-sourced goods and supplies as possible.
  • Showcase local products that are unique to your area, or partner with nearby businesses to cross promote local goods and services.




Local Environment

  • Plant indigenous trees/shrubs in your area. 
  • Provide information to guests to help them understand the local ecosystem and to minimise damage to the environment, wildlife or marine ecosystems.


The positive impact made by these changes will make your efforts worthwhile.

Quite aside from the knowledge that you are helping to protect the environment, responsible tourism will help your business become more successful as new marketing opportunities open up in an evolving and expanding space. Sustainable, responsible, green, eco friendly… these words are appealing to more and more travellers who want to reduce their impact on the planet, but don’t necessarily know how to go about it. Your accommodation business can take the opportunity to allow them to do this.

And if you would like to go further, you can find more detailed information at the Global Sustainable Tourism Council




Take 3 for the Sea

Responsible Travel Trends 2019

Responsible Travel Trends 2019

Responsible Travel Trends 2019

Take 3 for the Sea

Green Getaways

December 2018

Responsible Travel Providers a Growing Trend in 2019

The number of people who say a company’s sustainability credentials are important when booking a holiday has almost doubled in four years.

More than two-fifths (45%) of people say the sustainability credentials of their travel provider are important when booking a holiday this year – which has almost doubled over the last four years (24% in 2014)1.

The findings are published as part of ABTA’s Travel Trends 2019 report, released in December 2018, which highlights that responsible tourism is now becoming an increasingly significant consideration when booking a holiday.

Responsible travel is now becoming an increasingly significant consideration when booking a holiday.

Travel Trends 2019 is based on market information and consumer insights, revealing five key trends expected to shape holiday choices in 2019 and highlighting ABTA’s “12 destinations to watch”. It also identifies that, despite political uncertainty, people are committed to taking holidays and the desire to get a value-for-money break is also expected to influence holiday decisions over the next 12 months.


Responsible tourism goes mainstream


This past year, 2018,  has seen a number of sustainability issues move further into the public’s consciousness – with much greater awareness of the impact of plastics on the environment on tourism’s impact on local communities.

The uplift in awareness is also reflected in holidaymakers attitudes to companies – over a third (36%) of people would opt for one travel business over another if they have a better environmental record – up 13% since 2014 (23%)2.

Responsible tourism has risen further up the agenda and is becoming an integral part of business decisions and planning, with many companies announcing plans to make holidays more sustainable in the long term.

Examples include TUI, Intrepid and G Adventures, who have recently announced plans to further support the local economy and local workers in the destinations they travel to3. Thomas Cook is looking to remove 70 million pieces of single-use plastics within the next 12 months and Eurostar is targeting a 50% reduction in plastics by 2020.

Excerpt from ABTA Trend sin Tourism Report

For further information, contact:

020 3117 0596 or


Twitter: @ABTAtravel

Plastic Water Bottle Use: How One Hotel is Making a Difference

Plastic Water Bottle Use: How One Hotel is Making a Difference


How One Hotel is Making a Difference

Green Getaways

October 2018

“Grab and Go” Water – the future for hotels?

Landmark Oriental Hotel makes strides towards solving the waste caused by plastic water drinking bottles.

This is a great start to solving a problem which has become a growing nightmare in the hotel tourism industry: plastic water bottle use for drinking water.

The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, in Hong Kong, has installed a water filtration system for their guests. Instead of single-use plastic water bottles in the hotel’s 111 rooms, restaurants and bars, customers now have access to filtered water in glass bottles.

Nordaq FRESH water is bottled on-site using local tap water, which is purified as it passes through a patented filter system. The water is cooled and served “still or sparkling”in reusable glass bottles.


Hotel Glass Water Bottles


“The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is proud to be the first hotel in the city to invest in the Nordaq FRESH system that enables water to be filtered on the hotel’s premises, significantly reducing the environmental impact associated with delivering water.” says Archie Keswick, General Manager of the hotel.

“Current use of plastic is simply not sustainable,” Mr Keswick says. “5.2 million plastic bottles are disposed of in Hong Kong daily. Green Earth estimates that as more than enough to fill 2 Olympic-sized swimming pools. We were using over 500 bottles a day and knew the best way to stop that was by collaborating with Nordaq Fresh.

” We were using over 500 bottles a day.”

“Sustainability doesn’t mean sacrificing luxury,” says Archie Keswick.

“We believe we can protect the environment and maintain the highest level of guest experience and, as an industry leader, we are keen to play our part. Key to the overwhelming success of our different initiatives is explaining our commitment in an encouraging, engaging way.”

The in-house filtered, purified premium bottled water has already proved extremely popular with hotel guests well aware of the urgent need to reduce plastic waste and our carbon footprint.

water dispenser

The hotel has now also introduced a new compressive ‘Grab & Go’ BPA free impact-resistant bottle. Bespoke Swell stainless steel bottles in two sizes are available for sale in the guest rooms and suites. Guests are encouraged to fill their bottles at the new free water dispenser, called the Central Oasis” in the guest lobby.

A few small steps forward – but it would be great to see other hotels follow the lead set by The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. The problem of plastic waste being generated by large hotels is one which must be tackled, or we will continue to see local beaches contaminated as below in some of the world’s most beautiful destinations.

Beach Rubbish

Photo Credits

Photo by Jonathan Chng 

Photo by Dustan Woodhouse 

Photos by Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong

Read more about the Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s initiatives …

Take 3 for the Sea

Take 3 for the Sea

Take it with you
Take 3 for the Sea
Green Getaways
27 November 2016
Take 3 for the Sea:  Taking your beach rubbish with you.
This morning we had the pleasure of breakfast looking over the main beach in Forster NSW. A gorgeous place which is typical of an Australian easy-going beachside town.

Strangely enough, the Green Getaways team had just this week been discussing tourism accommodation around the Australian coastline, and reading about how some places are taking the initiative and supplying guests with bags if they felt inclined to pick up beach rubbish.

It was therefore great to come across the Take 3 buckets below which led us on a journey to find out a bit more.

Buckets take 3
Take 3 Buckets
Forster Main Beach
It turns out that there are thousands of people involved in picking up rubbish around our waterways and attempting to keep our beaches free of plastic. The organisation behind the whole push is called TAKE 3 and we applaud them for their actions. All they are asking is that each person visiting beach or or waterway picks up 3 pieces of rubbish and taken away with you.

Like to find out more? The info below is from the Take 3 Australian website.


Take 3 for the Sea
“In 2011, Take 3 was awarded the inaugural Taronga Conservation Society’s Green Grant and a $50,000 prize. The prize, exposure and support from Taronga helped build the organisation and provided Take 3 with the confidence to expand.”
Take 3 was born in 2009 when surfing enthusiast, Amanda Marechal, and marine ecologist, Roberta Dixon-Valk developed a simple idea to tackle the ever-growing problem of marine debris.

Joining forces with environmentalist, Tim Silverwood, the team developed a plan and officially registered Take 3 in mid 2010.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Take 3
Where Does Your Plastic Go?
Image from Take 3 for the Sea


HOW IT WORKS – from Take 3

“Plastic gets into the ocean in all sorts of ways but most of it comes from land. By preventing the problem in the first place, we can start to make a real impact in reducing plastic pollution. Whenever you’re at a beach, waterway or anywhere in the great outdoors, simply take 3 pieces of rubbish away with you and you’ve made a difference.”

Picking up other people’s rubbish may not be a natural instinct, but supporters find that they pick up many more than 3 items once they get started.

Take 3 for the Sea
Join together with friends to Take 3, or make it a mindful moment of your daily or weekly routine and you’ll create a new habit that’s good for both you and the planet!

If you want to share what you’ve collected, take a picture and upload it to Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #Take3fortheSea and logging the location. Take 3 can then record the number of items that are being removed and measure the tangible difference they’re making as a collective!”