Saturday 28 November 2015

Destinations that need us - the rise of "positive" travel

Sometimes it's not about having "no impact". In fact how and where we travel can have a big positive impact on the places we visit. And some places need us more than others.

Mountain biking Ethiopia -
pic by Secret Compass
My cover story in this weekend's Traveller in The Sydney Morning Herald is all about this: destinations that need us, and how trekking in Nepal after the earthquakes earlier this year or visiting Paris after the terrorist attacks a few weeks ago changes not just us, but those we visit.

It's about countries caught in civil strife, affected by the refugee crisis in Europe, regions where tourism protects animals in danger of being wiped out, and more. Here's an excerpt (click on the story title to read more).

When the going gets tough 
by Louise Southerden

“Every time we travel,” says UN World Tourism Organisation Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, “we become part of a global movement that has the power to drive positive change for our planet and for all people.”

With tourism now the world’s largest industry, accounting for 260 million jobs and almost 10 per cent of global GDP, spending our disposable income in foreign lands helps in all sorts of ways, from stimulating economies and promoting employment and education to giving economic value to natural resources that might otherwise be exploited out of existence. 

Tourists wanting to see orangutans in Borneo, for example, are pressing “pause” on a palm oil industry destroying their forest habitats.

Travelling in developing countries has kickbacks for us too, of course: affordable holidays and first-hand experiences that open our minds and hearts to the world.

Nepal loves us,
let's love it back
In fact the more we travel, the more aware we become of world affairs and the more we care about people whose lives might be affected by them, all of which makes us more likely to give back on our next trip.

So where should we go to do the most good? One clue lies in this paradox: countries most dependent on tourism suffer twice when natural disasters or other events turn off the flow of visitors – but are quick to recover when travellers return.

In other words, the places we love to visit on holiday are the ones we rush to help when they’re in trouble. Think Bali after the 2002 bombing; Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand after the Boxing Day tsunami; Christchurch and northern Japan after the 2011 earthquakes and tsunami; and, more recently, Nepal after massive earthquakes earlier this year.

1 comment:

  1. Wow.. This is so amazing I have never read something like this before as a traveler I enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for sharing!