You are here
It’s Time For A Travel Revolution
This article was donated by Travel Life Adventures.
When you hear the term “revolution” you might think of overthrowing governments and fighting ideological wars against dictators or politicians. But here at Travel Life Adventures when we talk about the Travel Revolution, we are talking about “a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something: a change of paradigm,” - Merriam Webster Dictionary. In other words, our revolution is a shift in narrative, in thinking and in practice.
Travel and tourism represent an $8.7 trillion dollar industry with 1 in 10 people in the world employed, either directly or indirectly, in a travel or tourism job. This is a behemoth of an industry, one with immense power and influence. For too long and far too often travel and tourism has revolved around consumption, exploitation and degradation of places and people for the enjoyment or entertainment of paying customers. It is time we changed that, as individuals who travel and as travel providers and promoters. It’s time we harnessed the power of this industry to positively impact the world around us like no other industry can.
There is a current movement toward not just ecotourism and responsible travel, but Fair Trade Travel as well. This philosophy seeks to maximize the positive impact that tourism can have on local communities through a variety of practices such as:
Ensuring tourism dollars benefit and are invested in local people over corporations and governments through conscious and targeted spending
Preserving land and culture ahead of the tourist desire to see or experience something for themselves
Prioritizing values and making choices based on the voice of local people through dialogue and relationships
Connecting travelers with deep cultural exchange experiences, where learning, understanding and growth is fostered in the traveler and the community
Gokyo Lake Yak Crossing, Nepal
It is the responsibility of travel providers to operate this way, even if it means less profit or more difficulty in running your business. It is the responsibility of travelers to ask the tough questions and take the time to seek out Fair Trade Travel experiences and providers. The impact of these choices matters not just for local communities, but for all those who love travel.
When we travel we seek out new experiences, we desire to see something new, to feel something deep, to connect. If we cannot make this shift in paradigm, those travel experiences we cherish so much will disappear with the people, towns and communities we leave home to visit. Their value, their very existence is put into jeopardy by the status quo in travel.
How can we as travelers and travel professionals participate in the Travel Revolution? That is the exact right place to start, just by asking the question. Here are some things to think about.
Do your research: When you start planning your trip, take the time to seek out operators and experiences that put the well being of the place you are going and the people who call it home first. Ask tour operators if they use Fair Trade Travel principles and support local people. Demand that your travel dollars funnel back to the people who make your experience more rich and memorable.
Don’t just pick the cheapest option: Things cost money. Travel is no different. A tour or trip or excursion will have a cost. Often times tour operators will cut corners to reduce cost to clients. Those cut corners never come from the owners pocket, they always come at the expense of employees or communities. Ask around and get prices from different places to compare. Ask the cheaper options what their costs are and ask for itemized invoices that show how their employees are compensated and communities are supported.
Talk to the people you meet: It is OK to ask the people you meet about their relationship with tourism as an industry, whether they are employed by travel operators or people in the community. Get their opinion, hear their voice, listen to their guidance as you go forward.
Travel Professional Actions:
Form relationships: It is our responsibility to put the time in to build relationships with local people to ensure our programs are Fair Trade, ethical and not only protect but actively participate in the empowerment of local people. This takes time. Put that time in before you start promoting an excursion or location.
Make tough choices: Sometimes to ensure tourism is a positive force, we as travel providers must choose to promote experiences that will inject money and invest ethically into local communities even at the expense of potential profit. Sometimes it is a choice to act. Far more often, it is a choice to not act. To not promote a place or experience because the burden of tourists will degrade the place or culture. These are hard decisions as business owners, but it is our role to play in the Travel Revolution.
Educate: As we interact with potential clients we must insist on educating travelers on the principles of Fair Trade Travel and the impact tourism can have. Even if that person chooses another provider or not to go at all, that point of contact gives us the chance to spread the revolution to another person and we must act on that chance.
At Travel Life Adventures our method and business model seeks to connect travelers with local communities to create authentic, transformational and community based cultural exchange experiences with the goal of empowering local people to improve their communities. It takes the concepts of Fair Trade or responsible travel and couples that with deep, immersive cultural exchange experiences, where personal connection can flourish. When local people are empowered to control their own destiny, they thrive and shift the patterns of poverty and dependence toward self-determination and freedom. Every experience we offer, every trip we run, and every choice we make is guided by one principle: making travel and tourism a positive force in the world.