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Can Technology Contribute to Responsible Tourism?

It goes without saying that technology has revolutionized the travel industry. A light tap or two on your phone can lead you to the right accommodation or the perfect travel partner. So why couldn’t technology serve as a vehicle for travelers to explore the world more responsibly?

In many ways, it has. Numerous apps and other technological advances are creating ways for people to travel the world more responsibly, as well as creating more avenues for responsible tourism.

Here are four of our favourite ethical travel apps.

TraffickCam

Developed by the social action organization Exchange Initiative and researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, the app allows people with smartphones to help combat sex trafficking by uploading photos of their hotel room to a huge database of hotel room images. Available on both iOs and Android, TraffickCam—whose database currently contains more than 1.5 million photos from more than 145,000 hotels across the United States—also enables law enforcement agencies to securely submit photos of sex trafficking victims in hotel rooms. According to the app’s creators, features such as furniture, room accessories and window views can be examined using these photos.

TraffickCam is also being used by university students to raise awareness about human trafficking. Last month, the International Justice Mission chapter at the University of Tennessee participated in an event it dubbed “No Slave November”. The event challenged other universities to see who could get the most downloads of the app.

AccessNow

Many of us do think of challenges facing travelers with wheelchairs. Maayan Ziv, who herself requires the use of a wheelchair, was frustrated by her inability to find information about whether city spaces would be accessible ahead of time.  She has said that she would often turn up and have to go home, usually due to a step at the entrance. She then developed AccessNow.

“AccessNow is a mobile app that is using crowd surfing to collect and share accessibility information all around the world,” Ziv told Global News.

Users have access (no pun intended) to information about the accessibility status of hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and tourist destinations around the world on an interactive map. AccessNow uses crowdfunding sources to gather information and rate places based on people’s accessibility requirements. Those places are marked with color-coded pins to display the degree of accessibility using statuses ranging from accessible, partially accessible, patio access only and not accessible at all.

Green Globe

A key aspect of ethical travel is encouraging sustainable tourism. The Green Globe app helps travelers to find hotels, resorts, attractions and tour experiences that are certified as sustainable travel. Once businesses have met the 40 criteria and passed the certification process, they are listed on this app. Travelers booking their trips through Green Globe can be confident their holiday will be as ‘green’ as possible.

Vegan Life

Finding suitable food can be a challenge for vegan and vegetarian travelers. In addition to providing general information for vegans, travelers can use the Vegan Life app to translate “I am vegan” from English to eight other languages, as well as listing foods “I can not eat” in that language.

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