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Travel Tip: Vetting Your Community Based Tourism Program

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tourismThere’s a growing trend of community based tourism, where you travel to villages or communities to immerse yourself in the culture. The idea is that you’re helping by contributing to their local economy.

However, it’s a big problem when these programs aren’t managed correctly.

In some cases, the money you think is supporting the locals is actually going to third parties like tour operators and hotels. So, you need to confirm that the program works directly with the community.

Ask other questions, like if the hotels employ locals? Where do they source their goods? Do they have an education or training program?

There’s no central database to see who’s doing it right, but there are ways to vet programs.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria is a minimum set of principles for tourism businesses and destinations.

The Rainforest Alliance has a certification program and a seal of approval for eco-tourism companies.

Some countries and regions may have their own guidelines—like the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Fair Trade Tourism program in South Africa.

Don’t be afraid to contact them directly, and ask the tough questions before you book.

For more information, visit Eco Travel & Cultural Immersion Archives.

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