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Lonely Planet and Responsible Travel: Minimizing Impact and Maximizing Connection
Michaela Caughlan, Lonely Planet
What is Lonely Planet's approach to promoting responsible travel?
In the immortal words of Kermit the Frog, it's not [always] easy being green. At Lonely Planet we hope to give our travelers the tools and the inspiration they need to try a new way of traveling: a green way. We hope our online information, our guidebooks and our responsible tourism features such as GreenDexes (Green Indexes) and our commitment to using credibly certified paper for our products, such as FSC or PEFC certified paper, will reveal a way of traveling that will challenge their perceptions, shake them out of their comfort zone, enthrall them and enrich their soul.
Responsible travel is about minimizing your impact and maximizing your connection with people and the environment. It's about making a positive contribution and having the most rewarding and inspiring travel experiences of your life. Responsible tourism can be more or less defined as travel that takes into consideration the "triple bottom line" issues of:
Environment: travel that minimizes negative environmental impacts and, where possible, makes positive contributions to the conservation of biodiversity, wilderness, natural and human heritage.
Social/Cultural: travel that respects culture and traditions and fosters authentic interaction and greater understanding between travelers and hosts.
Economic: travel that has financial benefits for the host community and operates on the principles of fair trade.
Traveling by the responsible travel ethos is one of the most direct and personal ways travelers can make a difference to some of the biggest issues affecting our world: poverty and peace. One of the best things about traveling is making connections with people from different cultures, in an authentic and mutually enjoyable way. It's when you make those cross-cultural connections – even though initially you may have thought you had nothing in common – that it hits you again. People are the same wherever they're from. We all have the same needs and desires, aspirations and affections. Reveling in that realization is the holy grail of traveling.
Responsible tourism is not the full or only answer to the future sustainability of tourism. But unless we shift our attitudes to tourism and travel we'll lose the wild places, the traditions and the eccentricities of the world. Life will be far more homogenized and far less surprising, and our spirit will be the poorer for it. Today there's no way of avoiding the importance of traveling responsibly. With the information on our website and in our books, we encourage travelers’ awareness of the effect of their footprint and hope to inspire them to try a new, far more rewarding, way of traveling.
To quote the end of Kermit's song: "I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful and I think it's what I want to be."