Ha! Now this is funny. As you surely know, I love to whine and complain about things I don’t like, including banal, regurgitative, one-upsman, and/or... »
We consider socially conscious travel to be the umbrella term for all types of tourism and travel that are mindful of the environment, the local people and their culture, and the future of the site. Here’s a quick tour of terms:
- Ecotourism – According to the International Society of Ecotourism, ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.
- Sustainable tourism – The Journal of Sustainable Tourism identifies sustainable tourism as committed to making a low impact on the natural environment and local culture, while helping to generate income and employment for locals. The Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, a coalition of groups including the United Nations, lists four main themes that need to be considered in sustainable tourism:
a. effective sustainability planning;
b. maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community;
c. enhancing cultural heritage; and
d. reducing negative impacts to the environment.
- Cultural tourism – Cultural tourism is talked about much less than ecotourism or sustainable tourism. Cultural tourism involves spending time and interacting with native or local people and learning about their current or historical culture.
You may have heard these terms flying around also:
Green tourism – Green tourism is sometimes used interchangeably with ecotourism although it can also mean tourism that is strictly concerned with the physical environment and does not address the well-being of local people as noted above.
Adventure tourism – Adventure tourism can incorporate aspects of socially conscious tourism. For example, a white water rafting trip is an adventure but if the tour stops at Burger King to get lunch for the trip, it probably wouldn’t be considered eco-friendly. An adventure tour such as four-wheel drive vehicles driving around the rainforest would not be considered socially conscious travel.
Philanthropic tourism – Coined by a few folks in the travel industry, philanthropic tourism claims to connect tourists with nonprofit or other worthy groups in the area they are visiting and/or give part of their tour dollars to needy groups.
Voluntourism – Sometimes controversial, voluntourism is defined by voluntourism.org as: the conscious, seamlessly integrated combination of voluntary service to a destination and the best, traditional elements of travel — arts, culture, geography, history and recreation — in that destination.
Responsible tourism – Often used interchangeably with sustainable or socially conscious tourism, responsible tourism does not have a firm definition and can therefore be used for many types of travel that may or may not be comprehensive in their efforts at “responsibility.”