Sustainable or responsible tourism has often been assimilated by many with ecotourism or community based tourism. After over a decade since the concept of sustainable / responsible tourism really emerged, it is now understood that all forms of tourism in all destinations (including mass tourism) need to become more sustainable.
Some places in The GMS have already become mass tourism destinations, some natural areas have been destroyed for the sake of tourism; the very assets that attract visitors – welcoming exotic people and customs, fine sand beaches, rich ecosystems, stunning landscapes, cultural heritage – are under threat. Tourism can destroy these; it can lead to inappropriate constructions spoiling the harmony of the original landscape, to tourist being harassed by locals selling cheap souvenirs made-in elsewhere, polluted sites, waste invading the beaches and the rivers, etc. Once spoilt, the tourists, operators, and investors move to another location and start it all over again, while the inhabitants of the first spot are left with memories only and a damaged site. Responsible tourism strives to achieve a virtuous circle.
Visit MekongResponsibleTourism.org for an e-Guide to some of the most authentic experiences in the Mekong region: trekking, cycling or zipping on a cable in the rainforest canopy, or gently gliding along the multitude of canals, rivers and other streams flowing throughout the region. Be thrilled by the sight of a kingfisher, a hornbill or a giant ibis, the melodious call of the gibbons, or the gracious pace of elephants. Rest in a beach resort, learn Thai cooking or Vipassana meditation, Lao weaving or, ancient Cambodian ceramics, dance with the Muong in Viet Nam, sing with the Hani harvesting rice in Yunnan, or admire the intimate collaboration between fishermen and dolphins in Myanmar. And to perpetuate ancestral techniques and support contemporary creations, shop and bring back with you souvenirs of the vibrant, colourful and addictive cultures of the Mekong.
The sites, activities, fair trade shops, cafés & restaurants, accommodation from homestays to boutique hotels and, tour operators have been carefully chosen through a rigorous selection process ensuring they are committed to sustainable development by making their business more responsible, environmentally, socially and culturally.
Feel free to download the “Guide to Responsible Tourism in Cambodia, Laos, Viet Nam“, as part of the Mekong Development Project, published in 2007.