Giving something back
© Sophie Ibbotson and Max Lovell-Hoare
The concept of responsible tourism has taken off in recent years. As well as travelling for personal gratification, people increasingly realise they are travelling through other people’s homes. In a country like Sudan that has been racked by civil war and is only now starting to open to foreign visitors, it is incumbent on tourists to travel in as responsible a manner as possible.
The adage of responsible tourism says ‘take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints’. While it is certainly necessary to highlight the potentially negative impact of tourism, this doesn’t take into account the positive effects your visit can have. Try to ensure that as much of the money you spend goes directly into the local economy, spreading the benefits of your relative wealth. For independent travellers this is straightforward enough, but people on package tours using foreign-owned services and hotels can still do their bit by spending in local markets.
Don’t waste resources. Many parts of Sudan face regular water shortages and drought. Electricity can also be in short supply, so turn off lights and air conditioning when you leave your hotel. Disposing of waste is always a tricky one in the developing world. You’ll see plenty of people casually throwing litter out of the window of buses or on the street, and on the outskirts of some towns you could swear that the locals have specially sown fields of plastic bags there are so many flapping in the wind. That said, there’s no need to add to this yourself, so throw away your rubbish with care. It’s also worth bearing in mind that just drinking bottled water carries a high environmental cost in plastic waste, so you might consider also using water treatment.