Leaving Light Footprints – the Importance of Promoting Responsible International Travel

Document Type : Perspective


1 School of Medicine, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland

2 School of Medicine, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



Irresponsible travel has the potential to harm both the traveler and the host destination. The subject of responsible travel is a major focus of the International Society of Travel Medicine, whose Responsible Travel special interest group has been very active in providing leadership for travel medicine practitioners in relation to the protection of local travel destination communities. Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to safeguard the dual interests of travelers and their hosts. This can be achieved by drawing the traveler’s attention to examples of irresponsible tourism during the pre-travel consultation. This perspective article aims to explore various aspects of irresponsible travel, including environmental damage travelers may cause; medical tourism and its impact on both the home and destination health service; voluntourism involving poorly prepared volunteers interacting with vulnerable communities in the host country; and sex tourism, including prostitution and child trafficking. Further research is needed to better understand the attitudes of travelers, travel health professionals, and the travel industry towards responsible tourism and to overcome barriers to its implementation.


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