As the tourism industry keeps growing and there are more and more people who can travel, it’s even more substantial to make sure that tourism grows in a sustainable way. That means sustainable for the environment, economy and culture. All the choices we make when we’re traveling has an impact on us and our environments, however small or big. What’s important is that we make good choices. But how can we exactly make these good choices? For instance, one way is to always choose local products and support the local community. There’s many good outcomes when we go local. If you want to know why travelers should always go local, keep on reading.
Support the local economy
As was stated above, it helps the local community tremendously when we choose local guides, porters, drivers, navigators, and so forth. They are also usually the people with the most knowledge of the area you’re going to. Even though there are times when you want to be completely independent and do things solo, it can really benefit both you and the local people if you go with a tour guide. For example, when you want to go hiking, it can be very beneficial to have a local tour guide with you. They also know how to preserve the beauty of a tourist attraction. By choosing to go with local guides, you’ll generate more jobs for people.
Tour guides will save you time and also provide you with flexibility. They’ll know where you can withdraw cash or exchange your currency, when the last train departs or what the bus routes are. They can also provide you with accurate information, like where the cheapest and best bus option departs from. Moreover, it can be fun to hike it with a group. This way, you’ll get to know more travelers but still have the freedom to do whatever you want to.
Go for the local food
Purchasing local food that’s been grown in the country can have a huge impact on the environment and the farmers who produce the food. But it’s also good for you! Local food can be better for your health since it often retains more nutrients. The food is also allowed to ripen naturally. If you want to make sure that your food is clean, always go for organically produced food. In fact, it’s a good idea to look for organic food since this pushes the demand for healthier, cleaner food and will provide the farmers with more opportunities to grow organic food.
Moreover, buying local food is better for the environment. Since the food doesn’t travel far, it reduces the CO2 emissions. If you’re feeling bad for flying, at least try to make up for it by only buying locally grown food. If the food will taste better, it’s better for the environment and good for the local farmers, then why should you not buy local food! So next time you travel, look out for a farmer’s market or try to ask around where you can buy local, organic food.
Opt for homestays
Instead of sleeping in an overcrowded hostel that’s owned by foreigners or go to a famous hotel chain, why not do something differently this time? Homestays are a good way to give back to the community and provide jobs. It’s also a way for you to get closer to the locals and interact with them. It’s there where you can see the culture of the people, values, attitudes, and truly connect with them. AirBnB used to be a good option, but there’s no guarantee that the place you’re renting is owned by a local or that it hasn’t intruded on other locals privacy. The problem with AirBnB is that it has pushed up the prices in certain cities, which has created a problem for the locals who can no longer afford living there. Furthermore, more locals are starting to complain that there are strangers who goes in and out of their apartment complex. There are of course pros and cons with choosing AirBnB, but if you can, opt for homestays instead where you know where your money is going and that it actually does generate jobs for the locals, not take it away.
It can be a bit overwhelming in the beginning, but once you’ve made the choice to go local, you’ll see how big of an impact it can make. Unfortunately, there are many times when the local don’t see the fruition of the tourism industry. But if we, as consumers, can actively choose places where we know the money will go to the local economy, the tourism industry will keep being sustainable for all of us. So next time you go traveling, keep this list in mind and make a change in the way you travel. You’ll be rewarded with friendships, experiences and stories that you’ll remember for a long time.