Global tourism is a massive industry. But while it can bring enormous benefits to communities, people and animals, it can do great harm when it comes at the expense of wildlife and the environment.
IFAW promotes responsible tourism, but travellers themselves make the most difference through the choices they make and the knowledge they have.
Here are four tips all tourists should remember on their adventures around the world:
1. Support the local economy
Tourism contributes to local economies, but not when it involves buying wildlife souvenirs. Instead, look for handicrafts that support local communities. Consider donating to, or visiting, projects that conserve animal habitats and protect endangered species, such as animal sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centres. Take IFAW’s pledge not to buy wildlife souvenirs and explore commonly asked questions about buying wildlife souvenirs.
2. Think about animal welfare
Say a big ‘no’ to activities that are cruel to animals, such as hunting, being photographed with performing animals, visiting animal circuses or bullfights or riding on sick, over-worked or badly treated horses, donkeys, elephants or camels. Even eating some exotic cuisines may involve cruelty or over-exploitation.
3. Choose ecotourism
Ecotourism is tourism that has the least possible impact on the environment. It's the responsible way to see the world's wonders. But make sure you’re getting the real deal--claims of ecotourism don’t always reflect reality.
Look for hotels or lodges that employ local people, use local food and contribute to the local community. The resort should also have minimal environmental impact and use water and other precious resources wisely.
4. Report endangered species products
If you’re on holiday and suspect you have seen an endangered species product, notify the local police, your hotel management, tour operator or the local tourist board--and warn your fellow travellers.