I feel like it’s actually everybody’s responsibility to use whatever platform they have to do good in the world, basically, and try to make our society better, whether you’re an accountant or an activist or an athlete or whatever it is. I think it’s everybody’s responsibility.Megan Rapinoe.
Knock, knock. Who is living here?
On each of our journeys, we must remember that there is a local population that is inviting us to visit their home. This population can be made up of people, animals, plants or systems that we must take care of and respect. Systems ranging from public transport, cleaning services, bars, shops… to traditions. We are guests in a context that has its own dreams and its own day-to-day life, in which we have to try to interfere only in a positive way.
Our travellers understand their responsibility to the planet and want to bring benefits to, interact with and learn from the local population. Can you change the world by travelling and having fun? Of course, by choosing, consuming and valuing tourism products and services whose sustainability and respect are guaranteed.
We are all used to internet review sites about products and services. What if the people offering the traveller products and services were to evaluate the traveller? Their treatment and behaviour towards the local population? Would it be one or five stars?
I rather prefer to be friend of the locals.
The population in Belgium has a lot to offer, with a high level of care and quality, but also with its own idiosyncrasies and times. We want to work very closely with the local population and businesses that are so beneficial to the economy and the development of the country, its regions and its municipalities. Therefore, when we work together with other initiatives, we make sure that the working and business conditions are respectful of the people and the laws in force.
There is a lot of basic advice to follow, but here we have chosen a few to start with:
- Sometimes be wary of excessively low or even “voluntary” prices for certain products and services and really ask yourself why it is so much cheaper compared to other similar products and services. Where in the process is the “discount” really? In the working conditions? On regulations that are not respected?
- Respect at all times the socio-cultural diversity of Belgium and its inhabitants, who welcome us on our journey.
- Avoid any disrespectful or derogatory behaviour towards the people we interact with, in any private establishment or in any public service.
- Be patient with other people’s pace and process while they are offering a service or selling a product. If you are in a hurry, it is not their fault.
- There are three official languages in Belgium: French, Dutch and German. There are many people who know English and other languages as well, but if you do not speak any of them it is important to try to communicate patiently and without looking down on the people who are serving you.
- Avoid any action that encourages situations of poverty, sexual exploitation or the support of any mafia.
- Avoid taking photographs in unauthorised places or of people directly without their consent (“stolen” photos).
- Respect at all times all the health regulations of each place.
- Establish a relationship of trust, solidarity and cooperation with local businesses and services through good manners.
- Value and recognise those activities that respect human, cultural, natural and physical resources.