The Ideal Tourist: Ways to Support Local Communities When Traveling

man boarding travel bus

The Travel and Tourism sector contributed $8.3 trillion to the global GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 2019. That was 10.4% of the overall value generated by the world in that year alone. But as tourism started reaching its peak, the Corona Virus suddenly took over the globe.

Now that the world is recovering from the pandemic, tourism is also starting to rise once again. But experts predict that it won’t be easy since the sector was at losses left and right during the past two years that the world was riddled by COVID-19.

With this in mind, our team has worked hard to come up with ways to exercise your kindness and help support local communities when you travel. From accommodation and food to cleanliness and publicity, here’s how you can be the ideal tourist and help the local tourism industry to get back on its feet.

ACCOMMODATION: Book locally owned lodgings.

Staying in international chain hotels isn’t just expensive. It also leads to your money going back to already large corporations.

By booking locally owned lodgings, you not only get affordable accommodations but also directly support the local economy from the owners to their usually locally hired employees, suppliers, and third-party business partners.

SERVICES: Hire local tour guides.

Getting tour packages from internationally popular travel agencies can be convenient. But that doesn’t give you the most authentic experience. When you avail tour packages from international agencies, they would more often than not just provide the most common places to visit. This means fast-paced tours in overly crowded places with travel information that you can easily get online.

Hiring local tour guides recommended by the people working where you’re staying might give you a more culturally immersive tour with a more flexible schedule that can help you enjoy your vacation at a pace you’re comfortable with. Not only that, but you will also provide financial help to the friends and relatives of the locals you’d meet.

tourist eating

FOOD: Dine local.

You’ve probably heard this multiple times. But it just shows how important dining locally is. Going to a country across the Pacific to eat a McRib isn’t going to give you an authentic traveling experience.

Supporting local eateries and small shops means helping more people than you could ever imagine. From the farmers who grew the vegetables and the butchers who processed the meat to the vendors in the wet market selling them and the truck drivers who delivered them, you would be helping many people bring food to their plates. Plus, you get to eat what the locals eat, ensuring the most authentic experience most foodies can only dream of.

PRODUCTS: Shop local.

Like with food, buying daily necessities and souvenirs at shops owned by western conglomerates is not going to help the local economy. Instead, go to the public market and buy the goods crafted by local artisans. Aside from getting relatively cheap goodies that only you will have in your office, the bargaining in itself is a fun and educational experience.

TRANSPORTATION: Use public transport.

Renting a car or a motorcycle for you to drive on your own gives comfort and flexibility. But sacrificing those two things for at least one day during your whole trip wouldn’t hurt that much. Think of it as a nice gesture to give back from all the wonderful memories the community has given you.

By using public transport, you are directly helping the drivers and local transport business owners while giving yourself a chance to see the city from the eyes of a local. But if you have a big family with you and can’t risk losing a sense of order in a foreign place, renting private cars owned by locals would be a better alternative. You can strike a deal with your tour guide or driver, so they can still earn while having a day off for themselves.

PUBLICITY: Make use of your online platforms.

One of the best ways to promote local entrepreneurs is by posting about them on your social media accounts. If you are skilled in writing, travel blogging can be a great way to support them while establishing your relevance in the tourism industry. But something as simple as posting about the shops and adding a #nameoftheshop on your caption can already be a great help as well.

CLEANLINESS: Dispose of your trash responsibly and actively help decrease pollution.

Minimize your impact on the ecosystem. Avoid throwing your garbage anywhere and pick up others if you can. Keep in mind that although you are helping the local economy, you are still a guest. Treat the people and their environment with respect. You can actively add value to the place without having to spend a dime by cleaning up after yourself.

Traveling usually helps with relieving stress and improving mental health. The places you go to can give you so much joy and new experiences. It’s about time you give something back. Traveling the world is not enough. Whether helping the local shops or cleaning a small portion of the beach, make the world a better place through these simple acts.

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