Travelers can be a boon for the places they visit, but they can also bring negative impacts. World-famous destinations like Barcelona, Bali, and Venice are often overwhelmed by more visitors than they can sustainably accommodate, especially during peak season, a phenomenon known as "overtourism." And while travelers inject welcome cash into the economy, depending on how it's spent, that money can end up benefiting international companies instead of the local community and businesses.
None of that means people shouldn't travel. "Tourism done well can be beneficial for the traveler, for the environment, and for the communities," says Dr. Martha Honey, author and co-founder of the Center for Responsible Travel. According to the center, "Responsible tourism aims to minimize tourism's negative impacts on the environment and maximize the positive contributions tourism can make to local communities." With that in mind, AAA spoke with Dr. Honey about how travelers can help make a positive impact.