How Not To Be A Dickhead Tourist
When it comes to travel, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Dark tourism is found all over the globe.
In Australia, millions climbed a sacred rock.
In Europe, tour guides are exposed to radiation for the sake of Instagram worthy photos.
In Asia, animals are chained and spray painted for photos.
In Africa, orphaned children are used to draw a crowd.
In South America, over-crowded hiking trails threaten historic sites.
And in Antarctica, where polar caps are melting.
A quick google search will show that the global trips that are most likely to have negative consequences on beautiful parts of the world involve dark tourism, invading religious spaces, homes of indigenous population, environmentally sensitive sites or exploitative attractions.
WWF suggests travelling with the rule 'look, don't touch'. Image: Getty Images
Overcrowding and disrespectful behaviour mean places like the Taj Mahal in India have restricted access to tourists while other locations, such as Nanzo-in Temple in Japan, have banned outsiders altogether.
While tragedy attracts travellers, keepers of solemn sites like the Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau have been forced to remind visitors of how to behave appropriately there.
Holiday hot spots like Machu Picchu in Peru are worn down by thousands of visitors as, it might be assumed, are the people living in slums that have become an attraction for the wealthier to "see how the other half live".
Meanwhile, other global tourist attractions have been investigated following animal welfare concerns that see tigers chained and potentially drugged for tourists to pose for photos with.
In short - when it comes to travel, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
However, there are steps that can be taken that can reduce a tourist’s footprint on sites that have piqued global fanfare. (Watch the video above for these.)
“Selecting a destination that achieves a balance of protecting natural and cultural resources, providing for sustainable livelihoods, and creating a high-quality traveller experience is challenging,” WWF’s Vice President of Travel and Conservation, Jim Sano said.
READ MORE: Aussies Reveal Most Annoying Travel Habits
READ MORE: Are Instagram Influencers Ruining Travel?
Travellers who care about this balance are called many names - Eco-tourists, Green Destinations, Conservation Warriors – but they share a common goal.
They want to do more than the age-old saying, ‘take only photographs, leave only footprints’.
That next level of travel is described so beautifully by the International Ecotourism Society.
“Aim for the kind of tourism that creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit.”
When done in this way, tourism can have incredibly positive results for conservation, understanding history and the wellbeing of both the traveller and communities visited.
This can be achieved through research, asking questions and being selective –the details are all collated into the neat little video at the top of the page.
Happy viewing (and travelling)!