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Responsible Volunteering

Responsible Tourism isn’t all ‘Green’ focused, it is actually a little more than first meets the eye.

Arusha, Tanzania, Africa - January 2, 2013: Happy woman selling cereals at town market
When we speak of ‘sustainable’ or ‘eco’ tourism, images of lush green forests, pandas and other wildlife spring vivaciously to mind; but it turns out, it’s not all environment and animal focused; sustainable/responsible/eco-tourism also encompasses local communities, their culture and their economies.

When done right, tourism can massively benefit the local host communities: through employment opportunities, boosting economy and that thing we keep rambling on about…mutual respect; in this instance, between local host and tourist.

Benefitting host communities and their economies can be as easy as buying souvenirs from local markets and shops, using a local tour guide, or you could go all-out and volunteer with a local community project or organisation. With ‘voluntourism’* ever on the rise, be sure you’re investing your time and money wisely; it’s come to light recently that some volunteer holidays are in fact detrimental to local communities – taking jobs from local people, feeding profits to companies and tour operators rather than actually helping, and in worst cases instances of child trafficking.

If you want to do some good and help poorer communities for real, then do your research and look out for the following:

Don’t get brainwashed by the clever PR strategies, be a savvy traveller or ‘voluntourist’** if you will, and actually make the world a better place.

 

*Voluntourism: The descent of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed gap year students on projects worldwide with the attempt to aid and enhance poorer communities with the volunteers’ ‘abundance of priceless knowledge’.

**Voluntourist: Young 20-something semi-adult looking to ‘find’ themselves and enhance the gap year activity section on their CV whilst positively contributing to some local community or other on the side.

Please note: these definitions are loosely based on 100% unofficial ramblings and hearsay.

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