Have you ever been on a vacation where you felt like you were viewing the local culture through a glass wall? If you’re nodding your head “yes,” we’re not surprised. The nature of many traditional modes of travel — buses, cruises, massive group tours — can prevent you from truly experiencing new people and places.
Community-based tourism, on the other hand, removes that wall, allowing you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in a new culture.
What is community-based tourism? It’s a type of travel fueled by the local people: they may invite you into their home, show you where they shop for food, introduce you to owners of the local weaving shop, and share other fascinating and intimate parts of their lives.
Here at Discover Corps, we’re all about community-based travel — because we believe the best way to discover a country is through its people. On our volunteer vacations, our travelers experience the local culture through their eyes, ears, tastebuds, and hearts.
[bctt tweet=”This is the one type of tourism that will save the #travel industry –>”]
And that’s how it should be. Here are three reasons community-based tourism is the way of the future:
1. It’s sustainable
When remote destinations rapidly become tourist hotspots, there’s no question it can have a negative impact.
That’s because it’s often international corporations that are taking over these destinations and using tourism dollars to benefit people elsewhere. They’re charging prices locals can’t afford and damaging the local economy by sending profits abroad.
Alternatively, community-based tourism puts money back into the community in a responsible fashion, giving travelers the opportunity to directly support the economies of the places they visit.
When it comes to the environment, community-based tourism is also a winner. Getting to know a place through slow travel and utilizing public transportation, for example, are both better for the environment than other forms of travel.
Not to mention, the community-based tours you can book through Discover Corps give you the opportunity to help the local environment through volunteer work.
2. It introduces travelers to locals
If you’re going to visit a place and only interact with other travelers, you may as well watch a documentary on the couch with your friends.
Meeting members of the local population is an integral part of understanding a destination; your conversations with local people will prove far more enlightening and entertaining than any tour guide’s spiel.
And just think: you might even make a new friend whom you can host when they come to your corner of the world! Sharing each other’s culture is one of our favorite ways to make the world feel smaller.
3. It provides an authentic experience
When big organizations offer tours, they’re often developed from the perspective of an outsider — with little consideration given to or from those who truly know the place.
They gravitate towards places and activities popular with tourists, creating a snowball effect that increases the traffic to a few spots — which, as a traveler, takes you further away from the local culture.
With community-based tourism, locals are at the forefront; they provide authentic cultural experiences that highlight the people, places, foods, and experiences they find most significant.
Visiting a local watering hole or digging into a home-cooked meal will expose you to a side of the culture that no over-sized, outside organization could ever reveal.
Why We Support Community-Based Tourism
It’s not easy to uncover the nuances that make a culture so special — especially as a visitor. But community-based tourism empowers locals to share their world, benefiting both you and the destination you’re visiting.
We think community-based tourism is the way forward, because it both encourages authentic experiences and positively impacts the local people and environment.
Supporting community-based tourism — whether on your own or with an organization like ours — helps promote a sustainable and authentic way of seeing the world. It makes us all feel a little closer to each other and to the big world we call home.
[bctt tweet=”Disenchanted with #travel? Community-based tourism is the answer:”]
What questions do you have about community-based tourism?