Tourism is a wonderful thing. Seeing different parts of the world enriches our lives, offers opportunities to break free from our comfort zone, and broadens our horizons.
Yet, while tourism may enhance our lives, it is not always the same for the communities we visit.
What we see on the news, in movies, and even the conversations we have with the people around us shape the stereotypes we hold about the world. When you’re visiting a new place, you have a choice: will you feed into those stereotypes, or challenge them?
A few good tourist tips:
1. Respect the people who live there.
No matter where you go, remember that the place you are visiting is someone else’s home. The people who live there should always be treated with respect and dignity. Listen to the locals and be mindful of their culture.
Respect extends to how we act online too. Luckily, this helpful social media guideline from Raid-Aid shows how to post on social media respectfully.
2. Avoid certain kinds of tourism.
Over the past few years, lots of people are combining a holiday with the feel-good factor of “giving back” to the places they visit. You may have heard of “slum tourism” and “voluntourism”, but what are they?
Slum tourism is exactly what it sounds like: you visit the poverty-stricken regions of a country, such as slums or favelas. This type of tourism is controversial, largely because the money made from it rarely goes to local people.
Voluntourism combines volunteering and tourism. At face-value, it sounds like a great way to have a vacation while doing something good. However, people who volunteer often do not have the necessary skills. So, tourists leave feeling fulfilled, but their work has little impact on the community.
3. Contribute to local economies.
The tourist industry contributes to national economies, and can even lead to economic growth and development.
So, whenever possible, keep your spending local. The hotels where you stay, the restaurants where you eat, and the shops where you buy souvenirs are all opportunities to keep your money local and boost the local economy!
4. Tell friends and family about your experiences.
When you get home from your trip, you will have a wealth of stories about your adventures to share. Use it as an opportunity to challenge the stereotypes that other people may have about the places you visit!
Wherever you go on vacation, it’s within your power to have a positive impact on the local community, and have a life-changing experience.