Difference between revisions of "Respect"
Revision as of 04:01, 31 July 2009
This article is a travel topic
Travellers usually wish to respect the people, culture and environment they are visiting. There are some general guidelines that help to show respect at most destinations. Accordingly, these guidelines do not need to be repeated in the destination guides.
Many people are happy to talk about politics and religion and their viewpoints. But these topics must always be approached carefully by visitors, and many people just think it easier to avoid these subjects altogether.
Some people in all cultures find swearing offensive, and it usually varies between people at a destination. Sometimes it differs by region, sometimes by gender. Take your cues from the individuals you are talking to at the time, or simply don't swear to avoid the possibility of offence. At your destination people might use language or words that you find offensive, but which they may not.
Jokes that mention race, jokes in bad taste, or about disasters or terrorist attacks are best avoided. You can often hear locals making jokes of this genre, but somehow the jokes aren't quite as funny and can be offensive when told by a visitor.
Some criticism of local government and other local institutions is common at most destinations. However, when this criticism comes from a visitor there is always the risk that the same criticism will be taken personally. Offence can occur even if all the visitor does is agree with the criticisms made by a resident.
Symbols of a country, such as the flag or head-of-state, or even the captain of the local sporting team, can be legitimate subject of discussion and derision for locals, but can easily cause offence if similar comments are made by a visitor.
Areas often have local sensitivities, due to historical conflicts and local rivalries. It can be insulting to refer to a smaller neighbouring independent country or region as part of a larger neighbouring one, best to be aware, and be accurate. Some regions have disputed territories, and even if the governments have reached agreement, people can have strong opinions.
There are stereotypes about most nations and cultures. Most people in the destination you are visiting are almost always aware of the stereotype, and will have heard the joke before.
Imitating the local accent will usually be taken as an attempt to mock it, rather than as a genuine attempt to communicate.
In large cities it would generally be impossible to acknowledge others that you pass. However, when their are few people around, say on a non-urban track, it is commonplace to make some acknowledgement of a person as you pass. A greeting in the local language, or if you don't speak the local language, a look or a nod is usually sufficient.
Regardless of the legal position at destinations, public nudity is generally only acceptable in designated locations.
In many countries beachwear is just for the beach. Avoid wearing beachwear away from the beach, unless you see local cues that it is okay.
Sacred places include constructed religious sites, cemeteries, tombs and memorials, and land significant to indigenous culture. Some of these sites are interesting destinations for travellers.
Access to some of these sacred places can be restricted entirely, or even restricted to people of a certain religion or gender, and these restrictions should be observed.
Conservative dress is usually appropriate. Hushed voices, or even silence while visiting. Appropriately acknowledging shrines or religious symbols.
Religious buildings and sacred places may be actively used for ceremonial purposes services, in addition being destinations for travellers. It may be polite to wait for a service or ceremony to conclude before visiting.
The volumes of visitors to sites of environmental significance can often threaten the environment they came to see. In natural environments, stay to the walkways, don't make new tracks, don't remove natural features.
Taking pictures of people requires sensitivity. Photography of people as part of a scene is generally okay. Photography of people involved in an attraction is generally okay also. Whether legally permitted or not, it is best to obtain permission to photograph individuals going about their daily life. Sometimes this can just take the form of a smile while pointing at your camera. In some countries it is common for someone being photographed in this way to ask for money. Taking pictures of children is often sensitive, and can worry their parents.