We seek a world where travelers develop deep connections with their hosts, are transformed by the genuine local cultures they experience, and improve the lives of the people they visit.
All people have knowledge and experiences they want to share with others. This is especially true for hosts who are marginalized and who are often the last bastions of traditional cultures and associated ways of living and knowing. With mentoring and support, many of these hosts will emerge as successful tourism microentrepreneurs sharing knowledge, passions, and communities with empathetic visitors.
Communities are complex with constantly evolving factions that use their various capitals to compete, complement, and collaborate with each other. Some people are better equipped than others to embrace opportunities brought by tourism and, as a result, tourism often fails to improve livelihoods of the least resourced members of host communities. Therefore, there is a need to deliberately plan tourism development in ways that enable equitable prosperity.
Immersive experiences into other ways of living bring perspective on what is important in life and foster tolerance towards others. Discerning travelers embrace the cultural and physical discomforts inherent to sojourning in unfamiliar places because these experiences help visitors reconsider certainties and embrace diversity.
Visitors are guests in their destination communities. The mobility and affluence of travelers affords them privilege over their hosts and, as a result, they should always behave with appreciation towards locals and ensure that the community benefits from their presence.
The tourism industry must pursue business strategies that enable equitable prosperity in host communities. Predatory business practices lead host communities to resist tourism development because community members feel invaded and exploited, which ultimately damages visitor experiences and the bottom line. Conversely, discerning travelers want host communities to prosper in the wake of their visits; therefore, an increasingly well-informed marketplace provides competitive advantages to locally responsible companies.
Local governments and grassroots organizations must be persistent in facilitating local participation and ownership of tourism. Host communities need their leaders and civic organizations to understand economic forces of tourism and to strive to make tourism serve the interests of their constituents. Civic and democratic processes of community involvement in tourism planning and ownership will ensure that tourism generates long-term culturally appropriate livelihood opportunities to diverse social groups.
Travel writers must act as ambassadors for host communities and cannot simply write what their audiences want to read or what the industry wants to sell. Travel writers inspire travelers to imagine new exciting journeys, influence travel plans, and shape traveler expectations of the destinations they will visit. Therefore, travel writers must collaborate with hosts to relate the sites, stories, people and culture that the community wants to share with potential visitors. When travel writers concentrate on magnifying the voices of host communities, they are enabling these communities to harness the power of tourism to improve their lives.
All tourism scholarship must determine how to make tourism a better force for equitable and sustainable development. Academics, consultants, and other tourism observers know that tourism is often manipulated by commercial interests to achieve short-term self-benefit at the expense of the dignity and prosperity of host communities. Therefore, taking no side in this unbalanced setting under the guise of scientific neutrality is ethically questionable because it implies complicity with forces and institutions that exploit host communities and destroy the environment.
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