What is Responsible Tourism?

Responsible Tourism 2


Whenever I explain to people about Green Nica, the first question I here is, “What is sustainable/responsible tourism?”

There are a lot of terms being thrown around these days: sustainable tourism, responsible tourism, ecotourism, green tourism, etc. And, in essence, the definitions are mostly interchangeable.

The United Nations World Tourism Association (UNWTO) gives the best and most succinct definition of sustainable tourism:

 Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.

The commonly used definition of responsible tourism breaks things down a little more:

  • Minimizes negative economic, environmental, and social impacts
  • Generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, improves working conditions and access to the industry
  • Involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances
  • Makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world’s diversity
  • Provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues
  • Provides access for physically challenged people
  • Is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence


You can see that with both definitions we’re really talking poh-Tay-toh, poh-TAH-toh.  The only term that truly shares a niche of its own is Ecotourism, which is defined as

Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.

If I were to define responsible tourism as to what it means to me and to Green Nica, I would say that it is a joint commitment from travelers, the travel industry and local communities to work together to use tourism for the benefit of all while minimizing its negative impacts.  It is using tourism to enrich the world in which you travel as much as it enriches you. 

So what does that mean for you as a tourist; where exactly do you fit in the picture?

Visiting sites like Green Nica is a great way to learn about responsible tourism and see all the wonderful options that exist in Nicaragua and around the world. Once you have been educated, the next step is to make it a priority. Actively seek out the sustainable alternative and do a little research to find out where your hard-earned vacation money is going.

You can check out our post on 15 Obvious, and Not-so-Obvious, Responsible Travel Tips to find out exactly what you can do to make your next vacation a responsible one.