Introduction to Ethical Community Tourism

Community tourism consists of experiential or participatory learning experiences for tourists that take place in domains that aren’t their own. Community tourism emphasizes personal involvement in and support for the local host community. In contrast to typical tourism experiences, community tourism opportunities benefit participants in several ways, such as by developing better understandings of cultural practices of other countries and communities, creating personal connections with individuals across the world, and sharing your culture with others.

Often, tourists are misinformed or ill-prepared for appropriately interacting with communities abroad. Whether well-intentioned or not, tourist behavior can offend or harm local communities. Those tourists equipped with the proper motives and knowledge, however, can not only avoid disturbing the communities in which they are guests, but can even make positive contributions while there. The UN Sustainable Development Goals and UNWTO Global Code of Tourism, included below, describe ways to be an ethical tourist.

Dos and Don’ts Your Community Tourism Experience

Keep these principles (or you could use “practices”) in mind when you’re in local communities. Apply these principles to avoid harming the communities that you are interacting with during your time abroad:

Do:
– Do direct your resources and time to local organizations that benefit community members rather than larger commercial outlets that fail to benefit the community hosting you.
– Do educate yourself in regards to the community you are traveling to (i.e. maps, laws, policies, cultural mannerisms) prior to travel departure.
– Do be mindful of cultural, religious, and other social guidelines governing social interactions, diet, clothing, and other aspects of daily life throughout your visit.
– Do respect the instructions of your host organization.
– Do speak to members of your host organization about appropriate and ethical ways to provide monetary resources to your host communities if you are motivated to share monetary resources.

Do Not:
– Don’t get involved in activities that exploit people, animals, or natural resources.
– Don’t expect locals to speak your language or know your customs.
– Don’t disrespect the cultural norms and practices of the community and country that you’re staying in.
– Don’t violate or disrespect community sites, including the homes of community members hosting you and sacred sites in surrounding areas.
– Don’t violate any local, provincial, or national laws.
– Don’t take pictures or videos in places where photography is inappropriate or prohibited.
– Don’t give money or loans directly to community members or other individuals.

UN Sustainable Development Goals
While the UN Sustainable Development Goals might not be directly applicable to your actions as a tourist, many of the organizations that you will interact with in other countries and communities incorporate these principles into their tourism experiences. As a community tourist, you should align yourself with organizations that implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are a list of objectives that were compiled by various countries in 2015. These goals were announced at a historic UN summit and were adopted by world leaders later that same year. Sustainable development has been defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” These goals address a variety of global challenges relating to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, and peace and justice. Essentially, these goals are the “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” To learn more about each individual sustainable development goal, follow the link here.

1. No poverty
2. Zero hunger
3. Good health & wellbeing
4. Quality Education
5. Gender equality
6. Clean water & sanitation
7. Affordable & clean energy
8. Decent work & economic growth
9. Industry, Innovation, Infrastructure
10. Reduce inequalities
11. Sustainable cities & communities
12. Responsible production & consumption
13. Climate action
14. Life below water
15. Life on land
16. Peace, justice, and strong institutions
17. Partnership for the goals

Sarvodaya emphasizes all of these principles across levels of the organization and intentionally designs each community tourism experience to incorporate all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. While Sarvodaya partners with several enterprises spanning a wide range of tourist activities, they intentionally avoid those that directly violate such goals. For example, each Sarvodaya district center works with its neighboring communities to ensure the equitable distribution of financial resources that result from community tourism experiences that it hosts. In addition, Sarvodaya ensures that all experiences including animal interaction are humanely coordinated and at the same time actively detract attention from those community members that are involved in inhumane treatment of local animal populations.

Additional Resources and Information Related to Community Tourism:

Global Code of Ethics for Tourism
This code is published by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. The ten principles discussed in code cover the economic, social, cultural, and environmental domains of travel and tourism.

Article 1: Tourism’s contribution to mutual understanding and respect between peoples and societies
Article 2: Tourism as a vehicle for individual and collective fulfillment
Article 3: Tourism, a factor of sustainable development
Article 4: Tourism, a user of the cultural heritage of mankind and contributor to its enhancement
Article 5: Tourism, a beneficial activity for host countries and communities
Article 6: Obligations of stakeholders in tourism development
Article 7: Right to tourism
Article 8: Liberty of tourist movements
Article 9: Rights of the workers and entrepreneurs in the tourism industry
Article 10: Implementation of the principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism

Each article is further explored on the UNWTO website. To learn more about the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, please visit the UNWTO website.

The World Committee on Tourism Ethics published a “Tips for a Responsible Traveler”) brochure in 2017. Links to download the brochure in languages other than English are included here.

Sustainable Tourism Pledge
The World Monument Fund, a private nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of artistic treasures throughout the world, created a list of tips for sustainable travel. Here is the list of sustainable travel tips:

– Know the history
– Reduce your (carbon) footprint
– Be eco-friendly
– Respect the local culture
– Go off the beaten path
– Be gentle in your travel
– Don’t be flashy with photos
– Buy local
– Join the cause
– Educate

Learn more about the Sustainable Tourism Pledge and sign the pledge here