Ethical travel with fair-trade tourism

If fair-trade coffee is the most ethical, most humanitarian way to enjoy your morning beverage at your local (or nationally-owned) cafe – than shouldn’t fair-trade tourism be an equally popular menu item at your local travel agency? The people at Tourism Concern think so. They lead the way in promoting fair-trade or ethical travel, and their organization is committed to bringing fair trade principles to the forefront of the global tourism industry.

What exactly is fair-trade tourism? Like other tourism terms: ecotourism, sustainable travel, alternative travel – it can be a somewhat ambiguous, hard-to-define term. What are the guidelines to determine what makes for an “ethical” trip? We know when we are drinking fair-trade coffee, but how do we know when we are fair-trade traveling?

For starters, you can check with the Ethical Travel Guide published by Tourism Concern. This guidebook not only gives the reasons why fair-trade is so important for tourism, but it also gives basic guidelines and ideas for planning ethical trips. When you’re traveling, check to make sure that you follow some of the basic tenets their Travel Code:

  • Learn about the country you are visiting. Translation: Do your homework. Know something about the history, geography, economic and political situation of a new land before you enter into it.
  • Know about the cost of your holiday. Translation: Think about where exactly your money is going – is it going directly back to locals, or is it maybe filtering out to multinational corporations?
  • Haggle responsibly. Translation: Consider the price you would be willing to be for something, and keep in mind that you are most likely wealthy compared to local people.
  • Open yourself to culture. Translation: Try to learn about the customs and beliefs of the local people – and expect that they are different than your own. Be prepared to adapt the way you dress, talk, and behave.
  • Think about you footprint. Translation: Consider the kind of ecological mark you are making on the land – think about your waste, take biodegradable products, bring a water bottle, and conserve resources as much as possible.

Along with following this Travel Code, you can use the Ethical Travel Guide’s advice on specific destinations. The guidebook’s regional directory offers specific lodgings, tour operators, and local groups that meet with their fair trade principles. You can find anything from eco-lodges and village tours to homestays and nature reserves.

The sound advice offered in the guidebook can help anyone plan an adventurous and exhilarating trip while at the same time protecting the rights and welfare of local communities.

Posted by | Comments (5)  | February 20, 2007
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind


5 Responses to “Ethical travel with fair-trade tourism”

  1. Timen Swijtink Says:

    The ethics of traveling seems to be a prevailing theme of travel blogs recently. Another oft-mentioned questions is: are the environmental costs of flying worth the benefits of world travel?

  2. Stacey Says:

    That’s a very important point to bring up, Timen. And the Ethical Guidebook does address the environmental impact of air travel and offers suggestions on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when traveling. One such method is by offsetting your own carbon emissions. Websites like http://www.carbonneutral.com and http://www.climatecare.org both offer ways to calculate the carbon emssions from your flight, then ways to neutralize your flight emissions with international projects like reforestation.

    Justin also posted on this topic and offered information about Climate Care. You can see his post at http://www.vagablogging.net/06-07/calculating-the-environmental-impact-of-travel.html

  3. Changemakers Says:

    Ashoka’s Changemakers and National Geographic Need Your Vote: Select the World’s Most Innovative Uses of Geotourism

    Join Ashoka’s Changemakers and National Geographic in the Geotourism Challenge, a worldwide search for leading innovations that help destinations benefit from tourism while protecting the assets that make these places special. Transformative ideas have poured in from 84 countries that demonstrate ways for tourism to do the most good and the least harm.

    Now it’s your turn: Log onto http://www.changemakers.net and select your three favorites from the 15 finalists by June 11. All finalists are invited to attend the National Geographic and Ashoka’s Changemakers Change Summit in Fall 2008, and the three winners will receive $5,000 each.

    Your voice is vital. Vote today!

  4. Changemakers Says:

    Ashoka’s Changemakers and National Geographic Need Your Vote: Select the World’s Most Innovative Uses of Geotourism

    Join Ashoka’s Changemakers and National Geographic in the Geotourism Challenge, a worldwide search for leading innovations that help destinations benefit from tourism while protecting the assets that make these places special. Transformative ideas have poured in from 84 countries that demonstrate ways for tourism to do the most good and the least harm.

    Now it’s your turn: Log onto http://www.changemakers.net and select your three favorites from the 15 finalists by June 11. All finalists are invited to attend the National Geographic and Ashoka’s Changemakers Change Summit in Fall 2008, and the three winners will receive $5,000 each.

    Your voice is vital. Vote today!

  5. willowford Says:

    Thinking green when looking at holiday destinations is becoming more popular but there is still along way to go. There are so many good reasons to think of the environment when travelling. The reduction in impact of CO2, knowing you are being responsible but it also makes you investigate the area you are going to and really understanding the habitat.