Author: Nino Chkhaberidze

tips to be an ethical traveler from a traveler in bosnia

As more destinations continue to open up for tourism, it is time to redefine ethical travel

After a long, chaotic year and a half of uncertainty, travelers have started to go on vacations and plan trips to get out of their home offices and enjoy something new. With domestic tourism numbers expected to reach record highs worldwide, there is a real concern about negative environmental and social impacts of tourism. The ethical travel question has never been more timely.

Exhaustion of local natural resources, water pollution, and general overconsumption are just some of the potential consequences of tourism’s renewal that destinations face. This puts extra pressure on local communities, especially in regions where resources are already scarce. Increased tourism also concerns the environment, as it affects biodiversity and various natural attributes of a destination, and at times even causes the loss of natural habitats. 

Sustainable tourism and regenerative tourism practices can be the way forward for ethical travelers. These concepts aim to achieve a balance between humans, nature, and the environment, to reduce tourism’s environmental impacts and harness its economic benefits in an egalitarian way. Focusing on reducing the negative impacts of tourism and building resilient surroundings can lead to having positive impacts for the local communities, celebrating cultures, conserving natural heritage, and cherishing ecosystems.

Here are 10 travel tips of how you can contribute to the sustainable development of tourism and travel responsibly:

  1. Ethical Travel Means Staying & Eating Locally

You probably go on vacations to get away from the usual surroundings and explore new destinations, cultures, people and create new memories. What better way is there than to fully immerse in a local lifestyle and travel locally? 

To do that, choose locally managed accommodations and restaurants. Staying at smaller and eco friendly hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and family houses managed by the local people is an amazing way to support local economies. Another reason for choosing smaller accommodations is that emissions from big hotels are usually highest in the big resorts and luxury hotels while smaller lodgings manage to save energy and be more sustainable.

Choosing local restaurants and cafes over big chain restaurants is also a wonderful way to gain a local experience while ensuring that the money you spend goes directly to the community. This will eventually support job creation and generate income for local community members. 

Solimar International is a huge advocate of responsible community-based tourism and sustainable travel. CBT practices also extend beyond the destination community. Visitor experience and community member well-being are equal parts of the sustainable development of the destination. 

  1. Shop Locally to Support Artisans, Artists, Farmers, and More!

The next thing you can do is go to local food markets, small clothing shops, purchase souvenirs from vendors and buy products that are produced locally. This will support the community and give you a chance to buy something unique to this place. Going to local markets is also a wonderful way to explore the culture, meet the people living in the area, and have a better sense of life in the destination.

local women explore fish market

Copyright: Tbel Abuselidze

  1. Choose ‘Slow Travel’ 

There are only so many times travelers go to the same destinations, so people try to pack as many things in the itinerary as possible. This usually results in rushing from one place to another, aiming to simply tick off boxes on the bucket list. This is unethical travel.

Instead, what you might do is slow down and experience the destination, opting for one longer vacation instead of taking multiple shorter trips. Immerse yourself in the destination, enjoy the green spaces, take your time with culture and community, build deeper connections, and explore the destination’s uniqueness. This will reduce the pressure from top tourist attractions, help the local economy, benefit small businesses and help reduce your carbon footprint (especially regarding air travel!). Ethical travel is synonymous with slow travel.  

  1. Participate in Local Activities and Festivals to Engage with the Local Community

There is no better way for an ethical traveler to explore a destination than to spend time with the local community. This helps you understand the culture, traditions, and history on the deepest level while also helping support the local economy and development. Join local cooking classes, buy locally produced hand-crafted souvenirs, attend local festivals, spend the day with people, stroll around the cities, and check out small coffee houses and lesser-known museums. Trust us, you will be amazed by such a travel experience!
community tourism breadmaking

  1. Opt-in to Reusing Hotel Towels and Sheets

More and more hotels try to lessen their carbon footprint by integrating more sustainable ways into their business processes through utilizing clean energy, introducing food waste management systems, recycling, and building local supply chains. However, water and energy use is still quite significant. 

As a traveler, you can save energy and resources like water and electricity by passing on daily washing of sheets and towels. You can also save some energy by turning off the lights, TV, and other electronics when not needed, turning off the AC when leaving the hotel room, and taking shorter showers. 

  1. Be considerate about your food and water consumption

Some destinations suffer from scarce resources more than others. This is why it is so important to be mindful of your food and water consumption during your travels. 

Large resorts in developing countries habitually use enormous amounts of water and food to satisfy the needs of their guests. This creates a shortage for the local community, as well as increased prices on the materials. For example, one average golf course in a tropical country uses around the same amount of water as 60,000 rural villagers. Terrible, right?

Additionally, try to keep food and water from being wasted. Food production from the farm to the table requires huge energy and contributes to your carbon footprint. It is said that food production is responsible for around one-quarter of the carbon emissions in the world. When this food is wasted, all the efforts and negative impacts on our environment are lost for nothing and create further problems for landfills. Fresh water and food are scarce resources – being aware of our consumption can help foster a more sustainable world.

  1. Eat less (red) meat

Evidence shows that moving towards a more plant-based diet is healthier. The water footprint, water pollution, water scarcity, and GHG emissions are all the results of livestock production. Agriculture overexploits resources that result in loss of biodiversity and natural habitat, and is a significant contributor to climate change. 

Choosing to switch to a more plant-based diet, sustainably caught fish, and non-red meat can be a far better option. It can also give you a chance to taste different varieties of meat, unique vegetarian or vegan alternatives, and enjoy your environmentally-friendly meal during your travels. 

local fresh vegetable market indonesia community tourism

Copyright: Alex Hudson

  1. Say No to Plastic 

It is common knowledge that plastic use is damaging our environment and harming the earth. More and more people are switching to alternatives and reducing plastic use in their everyday lives. However, while traveling many of us forget about our habits, and switch to ‘one-time’ mindsets. The plastic used during travel is as harmful for our surroundings as it is used at home. 

The tourism industry generates a huge amount of single-use plastics which is a problem not only for the environment, but also for local disposal systems as well. Plastic bottles are one of the most common plastic items tourists tend to use frequently. So, the next time you pack, remember to take a reusable water bottle with you, a tote bag, reusable cups, and maybe even a metal straw.

water bottle, responsible tourism sustainable recycle

Copyright: Bluewater Sweden

  1. Separate Your Trash and Recycle Where Possible

Tourists can be responsible for twice as much solid waste per capita as residents. This puts an impossibly huge burden on local waste management systems which were initially not built for such a capacity. As a consequence, landfills and sewage plants start to overflow. 

Additionally, improper disposal of trash is causing problems with recycling. All this makes the destinations less attractive and the areas too polluted for residents to live in a healthy environment. Being cautious about the trash you produce during your travel and always opting for recycling can help ease the waste management process for the local communities. 

  1. Fly less, walk, and bike instead of driving

Most of the time flying is to blame for the huge amount of carbon emissions and is one of the biggest polluters in the tourism industry. Airline companies all over the world are trying to develop more sustainable ways of flying, but progress is slow. Choosing a near-to-home location to travel to or your own country itself are sustainable alternatives to traveling. Use a train, bike, or electric car to move around and decrease your carbon footprint. Decreasing your carbon footprint is critical for ethical travel. 

Responsible travelers can switch to walking or biking in destinations. This gives you a chance to experience the locale at a better pace, meet new people and enjoy the journey in general. And if you’re worried about the weather, you can always go for public transport – just bring your raincoat and continue your adventures. This will eventually lead you to discover small shops, new places, and areas you would have never reached otherwise.

Enjoy your fall vacations – leave no trace, and don’t forget to take care of the environment and people around you! Follow these steps and be well on your way towards ethical travel.

Want to learn more about sustainable and regenerative tourism? Take one of Solimar International’s engaging courses. Contact us today

Domestic Travel in a COVID travel world

COVID-19 Recovery: Trends in Tourism

The tourism industry has shifted as a result of the pandemic

The summer of 2020 gave everyone hope of a quick recovery for the tourism industry, as COVID-19 cases seemed to drop across the globe and countries dependent on tourism eagerly opened their borders to travelers again. As many experts predicted, cases began to rise in the fall and the world saw a new and more intense wave of the pandemic, and the most cautious of countries like Australia and New Zealand announced their borders would remain shut until at least 2022. Now, more than a year after the pandemic began, the best outcome seems to be a return to pre-pandemic levels of travel by 2023 at the earliest.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted both the fragility of the tourism industry and its global importance: once representing 1 in 10 jobs and the 2nd fastest growing industry in the world, its near overnight shutdown left many destinations reeling. The beginning of vaccine rollout has given the tourism industry new hope for Covid-19 recovery and a safe return to travel. Already a growing number of countries have started to ease restrictions on travel which is one of the first steps to rebuild tourism and welcome guests. Now the main topic that keeps popping up in every conversation is that the industry cannot go back to ‘normal’–it must become more sustainable and resilient than before.

As much as the whole world is trying to fight the pandemic, countries are developing their own strategies to ensure fast recovery and support the tourism industry. For instance, New Zealand has decided to close its borders completely from April 2020, without any further notice. Meanwhile, countries like Georgia have chosen to welcome tourists who are either fully vaccinated or can show a negative PCR test result at the border. Despite a huge difference in the steps taken to fight the pandemic and keep the tourism industry alive, a few trends seem to be on most countries’ agendas.

Domestic travel

Domestic Travel in a COVID travel world
Domestic Travel in a COVID travel world

Recovery might be slow and highly dependent on countries’ domestic tourism, thus many countries are actively reimagining their tourism sectors, supply chain management, and strategies. It is predicted that domestic tourism will return to its pre-crisis levels one or two years earlier than outbound travel. This is understandable as travel restrictions are significantly less for domestic travel, no Covid tests or vaccines are needed prior to travel, and people generally feel safer when being close to their homes. Countries tend to communicate with their own residents to discover homelands or neighboring countries and support local businesses.

Sustainability and Resilience 

Sustainability & Resilience in Tourism
Sustainability & Resilience in Tourism

The discussion about sustainable tourism has been active long before Covid-19. However, the current situation has put extra emphasis on the fact that the industry needs to change and take multiple aspects into consideration. Now more than ever, topics such as environmental protection, workforce development, community building, economic security and capacity building are on every country’s agenda. The need for a diverse tourism industry that is not only dependent on outside factors has become very clear. 

Read more about community based tourism in our article about the lessons from Timor-Leste.


Asset Inventory for Tourism
Asset Inventory for Tourism

In the world of social and physical distance where almost every aspect of human lives has moved online, the tourism industry has also actively shifted towards digitalization. The destinations are using social media platforms to communicate with potential customers, spread information and inspire them to choose particular holidays. Content creation has become one of the main tasks of tourism industry members.. Web platforms such as,,,, etc. are nothing new to the planning phase for travelers. Using digital tools to conduct business and communicate with suppliers, contractors and generally plan the business side of the tourism industry has also been increased. The newest addition to the digitization process of the industry would be the digital products and services the travelers are receiving in this Covid era. Things like 3D virtual travel, digital guidebooks, online menus, travel planning apps are getting more popular and push the industry towards even bigger digital transformation.

Solimar International has built a website for Lewis and Clark National Trail, which is one of the great examples of how the industry can benefit from digital tools. The website includes content about almost 1,000 points of interest that was written and submitted by local experts who know the area best. 

For more information, check out the project insights about Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

Emphasis on ‘safe’

Being safe is on every traveler’s agenda during the pandemic. There is no joy in traveling when the risk is as high as death and putting others at risk, so countries trying to open up for tourists put extra emphasis on being a safe travel destination. Countries do everything in their power to market themselves as Covid-free destinations, showcase the fact that all the guidelines are strictly followed, the staff is either fully vaccinated or tested regularly and that tourists will have a clean and disinfected environment all the time. In the hope of restoring traveler confidence, the destinations try to make safety their number one priority.

Undiscovered gems and less crowded areas

Another concept that keeps repeating in the messages that the destinations are sending out to the visitors is ‘less crowded’ or ‘undiscovered gem’. Today, people can feel uneasy being around too many people, and no one is happy about thinking of huge lines in front of the museums and packed cafes or restaurants. Therefore, destinations are actively promoting areas that are less crowded and still undiscovered, where travelers can keep their distance and still enjoy their holidays.  

Southern Tanzania is for instance one of the emerging destinations, welcoming tourists from all over the world. The majority of tourism to Tanzania is currently focused on the Northern and Eastern regions of the country. The Southern Circuit parks which are less visited at the moment, are home to incredible wildlife, including 10% of the world’s lion population and the most bird species found in the country. Visitors can enjoy fascinating scenery, authentic experiences with local communities, stunning beach and marine attractions along the Indian Ocean coastline.

For more, the UNWTO has published a Covid-19 Tourism Recovery Tracker that compiles all the relevant data in one place, giving governments and the private businesses the ability to track the recovery of tourism at global and regional level, alongside information on the top destinations for international tourism. It covers key tourism performance indicators by month, regions and subregions allowing for a real time comparison of the sector recovery across the world and industries. Follow the link to check out the tracker:


“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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