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The Responsible Traveller Pledge

If you love to travel, then it is assumed you cherish the natural and man-made attractions of the planet. And if you – and future generations – want to continue to soak in these delights, we all have to ensure the world stays travel-worthy. That is why we need to travel responsibly. And the first step could be to take the Responsible Traveller Pledge.

What is this? It’s not a precise to-do but more of a guiding light for all stakeholders – travellers, businesses, non-profits, policy-makers, conservationists and Governments. No list can be complete, nor does one size / pledge fit all. Every situation is unique. But by taking this pledge you are signalling your intent to do your bit.

If you take this pledge, you do it only because you believe it is the right thing to do. This is also a pre-requisite to those applying for membership to Club Kunzum, a global community of travel lovers committed to the cause of sustainability.

THE 10-POINT RESPONSIBLE TRAVELLER PLEDGE

I hereby pledge that I will be a Responsible Traveller because I love and care for our Planet Earth, and all of its man-made and natural heritage. While I understand there is a lot more that I can do, I will do at least some of the following towards fulfilling this promise:

1. I will give preference to Responsible Travel Companies: There are many hotels, transport and travel companies who are conducting their businesses sustainably. Given a choice, book with them to strengthen their efforts and encourage others to emulate them.
2. I will research before I travel: Responsible Travel is more of a grey zone than a black and white one, open to various interpretations, subjectivity and conflicting theories. Do your research. And come up with your own conclusions. Learn to differentiate between greenwashing and real impact.
3. I will plan my travels so locals benefit most from my money: Tourism is beneficial when the communities and habitats that you travel to get a significant share of your expenditure; travel with companies who can demonstrate this. Only then will locals be able to invest in development, conservation, education and health. And have a stake in preserving their environment, heritage, culture, crafts and other attractions that bring in the money.
4. I will cut down on plastic and other waste: Travellers consume vast quantities of single use plastic bottles, towels / linen in hotels, food packaging etc. Cut down on it. And ask your travel service provider to offer alternatives like drinking water refill stations.
5. I will explore beyond destinations suffering from over-tourism: The economic and social benefits of tourism accrue only when lesser-visited regions attract visitors too. Don’t follow the crowd – excess only hurts destinations and do not add much to the local economy. There is a much bigger and diverse world waiting with open arms – go find the love.
6. I will immerse myself locally: If you are mindful of your actions, you can leave a positive impact at your destinations. Buy gifts and handicrafts from locals. Get close to nature and its biodiversity. Engage in physical activities. Treat locals and their culture with respect. Stay authentic – avoid performances and meals crafted just for tourism with little resemblance to reality. Make your trip experiential and adventurous.
7. I will question all stakeholders: The travel trade and regulators get away because they are rarely grilled by the consumers that they depend on. Ask tough questions. What do they do for Responsible Tourism? Is it enough? What more can / should be done? What will it take to do it? Let them know ‘irresponsibility’ will not pay forever.
8.  I will question my own actions: Don’t be soft on yourself. Hold yourself accountable. Ask questions to self. And give honest answers. Did you make an effort to travel responsibly? What did you learn? What more can you do? Will you do it in the future?
9. I will take a star away when reviewing travel brands who do not conduct themselves responsibly: Do you write reviews on TripAdvisor and other platforms? What if you gave one star less to those who do not meet your expectations of being responsible companies / destinations? Do mention in the review why you are denying one star so the brands reflect upon their policies and change as required.
10. I will spread the message to all those I can: Everyone needs to be an advocate for the cause – urge all family, friends and acquaintances to travel responsibly. Share positive and inspirational stories – so others may learn to travel responsibly.