Responsible tourism is incredibly important in developing countries like Madagascar and every single person can make a difference when travelling – from simple things like not handing out sweets or money, to refusing to purchase forbidden items. Responsible tourism ensures that a destination retains its authenticity as a place that people want to return to. Equally beneficial for locals and visitors alike, travellers are choosing holidays and packages with a commitment to responsible tourism – although they may not be aware how they themselves can practice good habits and make the right decisions. As a tour operator dedicated to sustainability, we have created a list of tips specifically for travellers to Madagascar.
Here are some tips to help you be a responsible traveller:
- Please do not hand out sweets, pens, money etc. at will. This not only encourages begging and aggression from children, but also promotes expectancy well into later life. If you want to positively give during your holiday, ask us to incorporate a visit to a school during your trip, or to arrange your donations to go to a school or hospital via your hotel.
- Purchase handcrafts from the makers in their respective villages if you can, rather than from a large craft shop in town.
- Spread your buying around various stalls, so that your money benefits many families rather than one.
- Remove all excess packaging before you arrive. Recycling & responsible waste disposal is difficult in remote places.
- Buy local produce rather than imported goods.
- Do not buy products made from endangered species, hard woods or ancient artefacts.
- Use fresh water sparingly – it is very precious.
- Do not pick flora, remove seashells, or disturb wildlife.
- Learn basic phrases from the local language, such as “please”, “thank you”, and “can you help me?” Travelling with respect earns you respect.
- Bargain fairly and with respect for the seller. Be aware of the economic realities of where you are. Haggling is the norm in many cultures, but don’t feel upset that as a visitor who potentially earns 100 times a local’s salary, you are expected to pay slightly more than the local price.