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The 'Good' Tourist: 6 best practices for visiting the world

Tourism and Development
Many developing countries in the world (and communities in the USA) depend on tourism as their primary source of economic income and development, but the good intentions of tourists can have a negative impact on a community and leave them at the will of far-away-owned hotels, cruise-ship companies and tour organizers.

Happy Holidays
So as you plan your holidays you may want to consider the country/people you are going to visit and the impact you will have on them and their communities. If you don't want to contribute to the degradation of the environment but want to promote social and economic justice, here are a few ways to making your sustainable contribution to local economies that reduces global inequalities and builds personal, community, and organizational capacity.


  1. AVOID CRUISE SHPS. (If you're going to Alaska, you are forgiven as there's no other way to see much of it). Cruise ships are the biggest tourism offenders in destroying our natural resources - the very same ones you go to visit on their ships. The volume of waste they produce (and dispense of in the water!) is phenomenal and in general, their impact on host sites skews the economics in their favor (i.e they discourage guests from buying from locals and encourage them to buy from cruise ship approved vendors). Furthermore, they significantly change the local culture when they disembark thousands of people in one place at the same time for no more than a few hours.
  2. AVOID ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORTS. These places have no connection to their locales, very little economic impact on local communities and usually puts the local economy at risk by sucking in all the money (and sending it back to their home country or tax haven) and human resources that otherwise would be spent on building local capacity with much less infusion of capital.
  3. GO LOCAL. Buy your goods and services (hotel, food, travel & souvenirs) from locally owned businesses.  Scared of eating local? Buy/Eat it hot and fresh. Spread the wealth. Build the capacity of people and communities worldwide with your travel budget, no matter how small it is. You will contribute to the growth of sustainable economies instead of the growth of surreptitious companies.
  4. MAKE A FRIEND. Get to know at least one local person that is not serving you or are paid to be nice. Knowing people gives you a great inside perspective to the country and culture and also makes the world smaller in meaningful ways.
  5. BE A GREAT GUEST. You are a guest of the country so act in the way you would want a guest in your country to behave.
  6. LEARN THE LOCAL LANGUAGE. Learning even a few words of the local language shows goodwill. If you learn a few basic words/sentences ('travel fluency'), you will find your experience to be less stressful and more enjoyable. You will find it goes a long way in going local, being a great guest and making new friends. 

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