During its first year of operation The Finnish Association for Fair Tourism developed The Fair Traveller’s Guide, which applies to both domestic and international travel. Over the years, the guidelines have been clarified, but in 2021 the association decided to update and improve The Fair Traveller’s Guide profoundly, for the guide to match the current world and travel, which has significantly changed over the past 20 years. Therefore, a fundamental change to the guidelines was needed. This page is a summary of the updated guidelines the association created. The guidelines have been divided into 10 distinctive topics, each reflecting the core message of the association.
1. Inform yourself (find out) and be aware of your responsibility
Find information online, from travel guides, literature, classes and courses, travel agencies, or talk to other travelers. Look up information not only about the sites and activities of the destination, but also on the culture and regional impact. Be critical of your own traveling behavior.
2. Avoid peak seasons and rush
A more stable tourist flow strains the environment less than large groups of people during the peak season. Issues such as water consumption, waste management, problems caused by the traffic, erosion, and other environmental damages become more manageable when tourism is introduced to the destination more evenly. Overtourism turns destinations into amusement parks for tourists and makes them less authentic. Don’t always look for the most popular destination, browse destinations close by.
3. Choose a low carbon mode of travel
The mode of transportation we choose for our travel has a huge impact on the emissions we produce. Flying, in particular, is a carbon intense mode of travel. Choose transportation that is energy efficient; trains are often a good alternative to planes. Walk and ride a bicycle whenever possible. A good mantra to remember when considering which mode of travel to choose is: avoid, reduce and compensate. In general, this means avoiding carbon intense modes of travel, as well as how often and how far you travel. When you cannot avoid, try to reduce, for example, by spending more time in the destination and traveling short-haul. Compensation should be the very last option, where you compensate, usually, for the air miles traveled.
4. Spend your money fairly
A fair manner of spending money is choosing products and services from local providers. Fair tourism means economically viable tourism, where sustainable economic development and even distribution of money occurs. The aim of tourism should be to improve the standard of living of people, long-term. The money you spend at the destination also has the potential to impact cultural and natural heritage protection. You want to make sure that your money goes to the right places, which means constant decision making during the trip.
5. Save energy and water, minimize the amount of waste you produce
Pay attention to your water and electricity consumption; use water sparingly and electricity only when you really need to, remember to turn off taps and lights when leaving. Choose environmentally friendly service providers. Avoid producing waste, especially plastic, which breaks down to microplastic and toxic waste. Whenever you produce waste, try to recycle as much as possible.
6. Respect local culture and people
A fairly executed trip has the potential to support the well-being of the local people and help dispel prejudice between cultures. Research, at least the basics, of your destination and its culture, customs, religion, and beliefs in advance. It is also good to remember that fair tourism and human rights go hand in hand. During the trip, the traveler might bump into many sort of injustice, such as child labour, sexual abuse and activities that violate the rights of indigenous peoples. A vigilant traveler does not close their eyes to crimes and injustices caused to the people, rather bears the responsibility by reporting criminal activity.
7. Protect animals and nature
Nature provides us a lot of rights, but also remember your responsibility and duty when roaming in nature. A fair traveler is aware of the impact their own behavior has on the environment of the destination. No mark of your presence should be left in the surroundings and you should not take anything away from nature as a souvenir. Animals have the right to live as naturally as possible and in a way typical to their species. The biggest wrongdoing an animal is experiencing is when they are portrayed as entertainment for tourists. Respect the animals’ living space, let them live in peace and do not feed them. If you participate in safaris or nature excursions, make sure that the service provider is committed to fair tourism principles.
8. Communicate responsibly
It is acceptable to share your travel experiences, but it should be done in a respectable manner towards the local people and surroundings. The image people have about certain destinations is linked to the way it has been portrayed in different media channels. Many travelers might be interested in more sustainable options but do not have enough information about responsible tourism. Sharing your experiences on responsible travel destinations and providers, have the potential to benefit future travelers as well as the local operators. A demand for responsible travel options increases the willingness of local operators to move toward fairer travel products and services. Both positive and negative feedback is important for the development of sustainable travel solutions.
9. Travel safe
A responsible traveler cares about their own as well as others safety and health. Preparation and prevention against illnesses and accidents before going on a trip is possible and recommendable. Both in the familiarity of your own country as well as abroad, preparedness is vital. Especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic, the awareness of health regulations and following them has been emphasized.
10. Promote responsible travel
By following the above mentioned guidelines you can become a fair traveler. But would you like to advance responsible tourism even further? Or perhaps leave a positive trace at the travel destination? There are several ways to help transform tourism into more responsible, for example, by becoming a member or active in The Finnish Association for Fair Tourism. Reactive and regenerative tourism are also terms in tourism, where the aim is that the traveler leaves the destination better than it was when they first arrived. There are several forms of so-called “charity tourism”, however, it is important to carefully revise the validity of these operators to make sure they genuinely commit to responsible practices.