Respecting Your Host Country’s Culture

luxury holiday destinationWhenever you cheap holiday websites book and avail of a flight, hotel room, tour or package; and return home and share your experience, you are giving a huge impact to local communities. By visiting the destination, seeing its sights, and sharing photos on Facebook and elsewhere, you helped boost local tourism. By eating in roadside restaurants and shopping in the region’s traditional markets, you have contributed to the local economy. By sharing your experiences in your blog, you helped enhance the tourism in that region.

Indeed, people and governments welcome tourists as the influx of the latter stimulate local development, employment, conservation of the environment, and preservation of historical and cultural heritage. Tourists, in one way or another, know how important they are to the country’s tourism industry. But that acknowledgment of importance, however true, must be tempered. Tourists must remember that they are visitors in a foreign land that has a unique set of history, morals, and beliefs.

Thus, what may be perceived as normal in a tourist’s homeland may be strange or even offensive in another country. During your holiday, it pays to respect the country’s culture.

* Before leaving home, make sure you are aware cultural habits, norms, values, language, and ways of your destination. Veteran backpackers and tourists always make it a habit to study the culture of their destination, sometimes for months, before booking anything there.

* Buy at the destination’s local shops to help the economy. You can shop for international brands at home.

* Dress conservatively, especially in conservative cultures such as Muslim countries or territories in Southeast Asia. Your best bet is a pair of jeans and a clean shirt. Avoid wearing skimpy clothes in public areas except in beaches, clubs, and other appropriate areas.

* Recognize what is highly valued in the destinations you visit. For instance, if you’re visiting an African country where water is a precious commodity, then conserve water. If you are vacationing in a remote costal town that only has enough power for 8 hours a day, then conserve electricity.

* Schedule your day’s itinerary according to local customs. For instance, in Spain, siestas, or mid-day breaks, are practiced. Show respect by not asking people to open their stores during their siesta.

* Watch what locals do and learn from them. For example, before walking inside that temple to take photos, observe what locals are doing. Did they take off their shoes? Did they show reverence? If they did, then you probably should do the same.

* Do not instill to the locals that your way is the better, more effective, and more efficient way. Remember that this is their territory, not yours.

* Control your temper even though it is well within your right to be angry. For example, do not blow your top when you’re stuck in a long queue. Most likely, you will find locals waiting in that line with grace. If you are the only one who gets miffed up, then you would probably be viewed as the bad guy.

Respect the local culture, and have a wonderful trip.