Catching her smile just before embarrassment kicked in, I snapped the shutter. I anticipated the phrase so common to a tourist – “Bonbon, Stylo, cadeaux, CADEAUX….” yet it didn’t come.
Tourism innocence still prevails in the south of Madagascar, be it from lack of exposure or from a higher awareness of responsible tourism. Parts of Madagascar may have been spared the fate of other well travelled countries due to lack of exposure, but with more and more people coming to Madagascar to enjoy the countries extensive offerings, we must act responsibly to ensure the destination is not spoilt.
Madagascar has only recently become open to tourism, but it takes just one or two misinformed travellers to ruin attitudes of local people. 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.
The staff at Jenman Safaris love Madagascar. We love it for its amazing & unique wildlife & for the charm in its simple architecture, for the shear beauty of its forests & coastline, & we love it for its people – who open up their hearts and smiles to all lucky enough to meet them.
So that those who follow behind you can get to enjoy the same magical experience, we ask that you act responsibly when you travel this fabulous place.
Here are some tips to help you be a responsible traveller:
1) 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.
3) Spread your buying around various stalls, so that your money benefits many families rather than one.
4) Remove all excess packaging before you arrive. Recycling & responsible waste disposal is difficult in remote places.
5) Buy local produce rather than imported goods.
6) Do not buy products made from endangered species, hard woods or ancient artefacts.
7) Use fresh water sparingly – it is very precious.
8) Do not pick flora, remove seashells, or disturb wildlife.
9) Learn basic phrases from the local language, such as “please”, “thank you”, and “can you help me?” Travelling with respect earns you respect.
10) 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.
To find out more about Madagascar please visit www.travel2madagascar.com or if you have any other useful tips of how to travel ‘responsibly’ please post some comments!