Today's post is a guest feature by the kind folks behind LocalAventura. LocalAventura is an online booking platform that connects travelers with local guides throughout Latin America. This travel startup is committed to economically empowering local guides while also making responsible travel to emerging markets more accessible. By vetting and interviewing all of their guides, LocalAventura ensures high-quality, ethical travel experiences, with english-speaking local experts.
For a while, hawaiian shirts, cruises, and big bus tours, were all the rage. Now the latest trend in travel is social responsibility, and unlike hawaiian shirts, we hope this one isn’t passing. Socially responsible tourism, is travel that invites visitors to reduce their socio-economic impact while they travel. As global travel becomes more accessible and popular, this form of travel is key to protecting some of the world’s most incredible places. Socially responsible tourism can support local communities, protect the environment, and create global awareness and intercultural exchange. In other words, this sort of travel can reduce the negative impact that crowds of tourists can have on a small space.
We at LocalAventura, an online booking platform that connects travelers with local guides in Latin America, vet and interview all our guides to ensure their shared commitment to socially responsible tourism. The hope is that we can make finding socially, environmentally, and culturally positive experiences even easier. That’s how we’re helping, but there are many small, yet important, ways that you too can make a positive impact through travel. Here’s our top five.
In typical tourist towns, you’ll find hundreds of tour agencies, all advertising the same tours. These touristy trails and sites, are often inundated with crowds, many times too much for the environment to handle. In fact, studies have shown that the high amount of tourists visiting Machu Picchu per day has put the world wonder at high risk. To reduce this concentration of tourists, we recommend travelers spread out and seek alternative routes as much as possible. Not only is stepping away from the typical tourist spots better for the environment, but it will give you a unique experiences and keep you away from crowds.
Look for accreditation
It’s easy to slap a label on a brochure or a website, but it’s hard to actually be certified as responsible. When planning your trip, keep an eye open for symbols of certification from reliable third party organizations. For example you know you can trust an ecotourism certificate from the Rainforest Alliance and Blue Flag. For more trustworthy accreditations, check out this list.
Travel with locals
While third-party accreditations are a great source, some responsible companies may not have certifications yet, because they are in process of getting it or just too small. Through LocalAventura’s vetting process, often we find out that many of our guides practice responsible tourism, but aren’t yet certified. This is why we recommend traveling with small, locally-run tour companies.
Support small businesses
In addition to traveling with small, local tour companies, support other local entrepreneurs by booking at boutique hotels or AirBnBs, eating at local restaurants, and buying fair trade souvenirs. To know where to go, a local can give you great insider tips, whether it’s from your guide, a friend, or through online forums. You can also contact us for some free-travel tips.
Visit Local Communities
In addition to supporting local businesses, visiting small communities is another great way to immerse yourself in the regional culture while helping the local economy. You can do that through a cultural-tour, which typically involves visiting small, rural communities to learn about their traditions and customs. When tour companies collaborate with the communities, these types of tours can help preserve age old customs, support economic development of the communities, and bring more cultural understanding to the region. For example, instead of just visiting the vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina you can also spend the day with a gaucho learning about their traditions.