How to Become a Responsible Tourist

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Introduction

Responsible tourism is all about conformity of the tourist to the local culture, especially to the customs and laws of the host country or place of destination. There are different types of tourism and tourist. But all tourism is a cross-cultural encounter, an interaction between two cultures: the cultural orientation of the tourist and the culture or way of life of the tourist site. Thus, if an American tourist visits the famous Boracay Beach in the Philippines, he or she brings with her/his Western American culture mentality to the Philippines and interacts it with the local Filipino culture of the residents or hosts in Boracay island.

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Now, tourism often brings conflict in terms of cultural norms. Sometimes, tourists would impose consciously or unconsciously her or his cultural expectation and norm orientation to the tourist site and disregard the local norms and rules. For instance, Western tourists may find wearing bikinis in Philippine beaches as normal and culturally appropriate. But for rural folks in the Philippines, wearing this kind of outfit is culturally unacceptable and indecent.

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Cultural conflict is therefore inevitable. Thus, the tourist site or the host country must dictate how should tourists behave to protect the local culture. In this case, it must be the tourist site and authorities of the place who must determine through rules and policies how tourists must behave and become responsible to protect the local culture and attain sustainability of their tourism industry.

Here are some important tips on how the tourist can become responsible when visiting tourist sites:

  1. Orient yourself about the local culture of the place you are visiting. This includes knowing the customs or existing practices of the site. Know some basic rules on respect, decency, and social interaction.

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  1. Know the laws and ordinances of your place of destination before arriving at the area. Dont’s be afraid to ask friends or people who have visited the tourist spot you want to visit. Use the Internet or social media to get a glimpse of the rules.

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  1. Be respectful of the local people and customs of the place you are visiting. Don’t be arrogant and presume that you know many things about the site just because you are highly educated, rich, famous, and coming from a developed country.

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  1. Always remember that to become a responsible tourist means you conform to the norms and expectations of the tourist site and not the other way around. This advice is also good for your protection and safety when visiting tourist spots.

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Enjoy your trip, tour, and vacation! God bless!

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How to Overcome Societal Traps

Once we are born in the material world and become members of society, we are thrown into a sea of social norms. These norms can be laws, rules, regulations, customs, traditions, and other forms of behavioral regimes. Social norms when effectively enforced can be coercive to people. Each norm carries with it sanction and punishment. This sanction can be psychological such as ostracism, rumors and gossip, public shaming, etc. or penal in nature such as imprisonment, suspension, banishment, or paying of fines. Norms limit our freedom and action in society. They also structure our mental life and thinking. If caught by authorities violating them, we can be trapped in society for life.

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Photo credit: shutterstock

One story that struck me in a documentary shown in a local television is the story of a homeless Filipino migrant in the United States. He said before he became a homeless, he lived a happy family life with his wife and children. But this happiness was overturned when his wife filed a divorce. The law on alimony in San Francisco requires a husband who divorced his wife to pay 70% of his monthly income as a support to his wife and children. According to him, this has radically changed his life. He was unable to keep up with the payments and incurred debts from the government. Thus, he lost his job and left his normal life and became a homeless. He can’t return back to his old life since this implies paying his huge debts and finding a high-paying job. His story is an example of a societal trap in the material world that people may sometimes find themselves imprisoned, unable to free themselves from material bondage for violating societal norms. For people who live without a spirituality and life of prayer, to live a societal trap is probably the end of the road. It can be a life of boredom, without meaning, progress, and hope.

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Photo credit: shutterstock

Material bondage is not an end, however, for people with deep sense of spirituality, particularly for those with strong beliefs in the supernatural or God. Religiosity, can provide people with a sense of meaning and purpose which can “empower” and provide them with a sense of control in the face of potentially stressful events (Hood 1974; Matton & Rappaport 1983). Spirituality can give us resilience and courage to face difficult situations in life. Thus, one secret to transcend the limitations of our material limitations is searching of an appropriate spirituality that fits with out ultimate goals in life. Searching for ultimate values and meaning of life is the key to purpose-driven life that transcends the material world. This is not escapism but an acknowledgement that there is more what the material world can offer.

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Photo credit: pinterest.com

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Photo credit: “silhouette of a woman walking thoughtfully at sunset” (celestinevision.com)