Your actions count; Be a responsible traveller

March 26, 2014

If you are one of the more than 1 billion tourists who are travelling the globe every year then YOU have the power to make a difference.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization have joined forces to engage tourists in the global fight against the trafficking of people, wildlife, cultural artefacts, drugs and counterfeit goods. The campaign, ‘Your Actions Count – Be a Responsible Traveller’, launched on 5 March and aims to raise awareness among tourists on the criminal activities which are often concealed behind colourful souvenirs and exotic products which travellers can come across. This campaign calls on all tourists to be responsible travellers and do their bit in helping reduce the global demand for such goods through their actions.

Travel trafficking traps to watch out for:

Human trafficking

Human trafficking is a heinous crime driven by demand. When visiting a foreign country don’t fall into the trap of promoting human trafficking. If you believe that someone is being forced to work against their will, are being abused or if you see something that doesn’t look right in a bar, accommodation or a restaurant, report it.

Wildlife and fauna

The illegal killing of protected wild animals and the illegal exploitation of plants and forests are crimes that have a devastating impact on the environment, local livelihoods and biodiversity. Think twice before buying or consuming something made out of an exotic tree, plant or wild animal as you may be contributing to their extinction or exploitation.

Cultural artefacts

Cultural objects such as traditional carvings, pottery and antiques make attractive gifts, but make sure you are not unwittingly buying stolen, illegally excavated or looted artefacts. Every day, countless sites and monuments across the globe are pillaged as specialised organised crime networks move and sell these goods. The impact that this can have is irreversible with countries and denies citizens their heritage and cultural identities.Make sure that the souvenirs you take home have a documented and legal history, aren’t stolen and can be exported.

Illicit drugs

Drug trafficking is simply not worth the risk; it is illegal and if you’re caught, you will end up in prison with severe consequences. Sometimes gangs use travellers as ‘plants’ in order to tip off the authorities and provide a diversion to get through far larger shipments. Never carry packages or items for anyone else as ignorance is no defence against the law.

Counterfeit goods

They might seem like a bargain but most counterfeit goods are not ethically produced and may contribute to forced or poor labour conditions and high environmental impact. You might think that you are helping a small market or a street seller but behind these there are often criminal interests that are coercing or exploiting sellers. More importantly, your money may end up funding organised crime groups that have diversified their money laundering and drugs businesses with counterfeit goods. Avoid putting your money in the hands of organised crime and purchase ethically while abroad.


For further information on how you can support ‘Your actions count – be a responsible traveller’ visit

Are you a responsible traveller? Tell us in the comment box below or email us at



Carbon Footprint

We’re passionate about sustainable travel, read more about the HI Sustainability Fund.

1 Comment. Leave new

Being a responsible traveller is made easier by being an Australian. My government is very strict on what it allows in–no animal products, no wood, no seeds, no straw, no foodstuffs unless in unopened containers and then not if in water, or other local products, no antiques, unless you have written documentation stating the provenance of the goods or that the items have been treated.

I mostly travel alone, interacting with locals, but if I do pay for a tour I use only soft-on-the-ground companies (mostly Australia’s Intrepid) who use local guides, support local communities, and have a foundation assisting communities in 3rd world countries, whereby every dollar donated is mateched. I also subscribe to Tourism Concern, which is an organisation for ethical travel, free of exploitation of man or beast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HI Newsletter

Don't miss out on great deals, discounts and travel tips. Create an account today and sign up for the monthly HI Newsletter.

Create an account