Responsible Tourism - Travel Code
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As a traveller, you have a responsibility to help ensure that tourism in developing countries such as Peru remains a positive experience for everyone. The following "Travel Code" offers guidelines for low-impact, culturally sensitive and environmentally friendly travel.
1. LEARN ABOUT THE COUNTRY YOU'RE VISITING
Start enjoying your travels before you leave by tapping into as many sources of information as you can.
To get the most out of a trip, seek out lots of information Ė not just the obvious sources like guidebooks. Try reading some classic and contemporary literature of the country. The internet is a fantastic resource.
Try to check out the behaviour and dress codes that will be expected of you. Visiting religious sites, markets or rural communities looking as though you forgot to get dressed that morning is probably not a good idea! Swimwear and revealing shorts and T-shirts are often only appropriate on the beach.
One of the major impacts holidays and travel have on a destination is economic, you can be a vital source of income for many. If you want to make sure you bring some economic benefit, find out whether there are any community or locally run/owned businesses to use in the places youíre visiting.
Learn a few phrases in Spanish before you travel. Even better take a short language course. A few basic words will go a long way to improve the quality of your interaction with local people. You'll be surprised how difficult it is to get by in Peru using English alone!
2. THE COST OF YOUR HOLIDAY
Think about where your money goes Ė be fair and realistic about how cheaply you travel.
Think about where your money goes - itís very easy to forget the consequences when youíre on a budget trying to save every penny. Competing for the cheapest price and not wanting to get ripped off is common, but some travellers misunderstand how far to go and are overly suspicious or aggressive. By all means haggle (itís often expected after all) but donít go over the top Ė smile and pay a fair price. A small difference of maybe just a couple of dollars, could mean the person youíre buying from can feed his or her family that day. It doesn't really hurt to be fair and realistic, in fact it can be very rewarding.
Try and put money into local businesses. For instance, drink local beer or fruit juice rather than imported brands Ė theyíre probably cheaper and just as good if not better. Thinking about where your money goes also includes using local guides and locally-owned accommodation. Tours and excursions run by locals will educate you and benefit them. If possible, support community projects.
3. MINIMIZE YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Think about what happens to your rubbish - take biodegradable products and a water filter bottle. Be sensitive to limited resources like water, fuel and electricity.
Help preserve local wildlife and habitats by respecting rules and regulations, such as sticking to footpaths, not buying products made from endangered plants or animals.
Exploring rainforests, mountain trekking, going through remote desert regions, Ė all these are things that travellersí dreams are made of. But if everyone who visited such environments did it without working out how to limit their environmental impact, damage would soon follow.
Recycling is extremely limited in Peru. Opt for drinks in glass bottles as these tend to be re-used.
Use only biodegradable soaps and shampoos while camping but don't use them directly in the water as they won't decompose.
Batteries are one of the most damaging products to leave behind.
Donít treat people as part of the landscape, they may not want their picture taken. Put yourself in their shoes, ask first and respect their wishes.
Most travellers want photos to remind them of their travels, but there are times when photography can offend and intrude. So how do you get your photos of your lifetime without offending the people you are visiting? Consider the feelings of local people and, if itís inappropriate, donít take it.
You may find that sometimes people will ask you for payment for the photograph to be taken. This can have lots of implications, itís worth bearing them in mind. You may think that paying for pictures is a way of putting money into local hands, but it can encourage begging especially amongst children. However, if it is obvious that the locals have dressed up in traditional clothes only to have their photos taken, negotiate a price first before taking a photo. In colourful markets such as Pisac in the Sacred Valley it may be more appropriate to buy something from the store-holder such as fruit or vegetables rather than paying for taking a photo.
Often the best way you can take photos is to offer to mail them a copy. Many locals will be thrilled to receive a photo of themselves.
Avoid giving children sweets for photos; again it encourages begging as well as being bad for their teeth.
Flash photography can damage works of art Ė check if itís okay first.
Andean Travel Web Guide to Peru. Office Address: La Casa Cultural, Avenida Pardo 540, Cusco, Peru (just 2 minutes walk from the Koricancha Inca Temple of the Sun). If you are coming to Cusco please bring a couple of second hand clothes, toys, school equipment and drop them off in our office. We will help distribute the items to people who really need them in small village schools and communities in the Andes. For more details visit our web page www.andeantravelweb.com/peru/projects A map of our office can be found by clicking here. Copyright Andean Travel Web Guide to Peru 2000-2008. All material used within this web site is original work and is subject to international copyright law. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited without prior permission from the editor. This web page was last updated in April 2008. Website designed by AndeanVisionWebDesignStudio