January, 2021July 15, 2022
Travel Local & Support Local – Practicing sustainable tourism
When the pandemic situation forced every industry to shut down its operations for an undefined time; tourism was the one to suffer massive loss economically. Several organizations that were directly or indirectly dependent on the tourism sector laid off their employees and reduced salaries lead to extreme disturbance in normal life. When we talk about the massive economic failure on a global scale, the local front is often missed or remains hidden. No doubt, big organizations lost businesses so did the locals. Locals who were dependent on the tourism sector became helpless and hopeless. However, slowly the businesses are going back on track and there is a massive scope of supporting the locals by traveling local.
When I went to Triund to camp, I saw local people had put up stalls on the way. I remember when I went to Jaisalmer and Jodhpur a couple of years back and saw how local markets flocked with not only Indian but foreign tourists. Due to COVID, everything has come to an end and there is no guarantee if things will be the same ever again. I remember the people who were running their shops, stalls selling handicrafts to the tourists and since international tourism is limited, there is a threat to such communities and markets. I remember Tikam Chand who owns a vintage camera. His stall used to be near Hawa Mahal and he would get click vintage photograph using his centuries-old camera.
Travel local sounds interesting but how do you ensure that when you travel locally, you travel like a local and support the local tourism? After the shutdown was imposed, we started to hear a lot about supporting the locals and shopping from the locals. Before that this notion wasn’t in practice that much. We needed a kick to understand it and we got it. Local travel is the new travel now and that’s the best way to travel and support the locals.
How to travel local and support the local economies?
I spent close to a decade in Delhi NCR and explored a lot of hidden places that don’t come on the mainstream tourism radar. When I visited tomb of Azim Khan in December 2020, I asked the security guard about his time at the site. He shared with me the problems he faced, there was no water or washroom facility, and even there was no sitting arrangement for him. One of the reasons behind it was that the site wasn’t as popular as Qutub Minar (which is located nearby) or any commercial tourist attraction of the national capital city. If such sites are visited regularly on large scale, things can turn different.
Rajasthan is famous for its handicrafts. You visit any fort or city and you will find local markets. I have visited Jaipur several times. I have visited the local markets of Pink City such as Johari Market (jewelry market), Babu Market, etc. which are famous for their handicraft markets. Before lockdown, these markets used to experience crowds from different parts of the world. That aided a lot to the local economy. Now we can understand how things would have been changed. Local travel is the answer we have right now.
Read Here – How COVID pandemic has impacted tourism?
Here are a few ways we can support local communities by traveling local:
1. Explore places near your hometown
I shifted back to my hometown due to lockdown and I missed traveling to the hills. I missed going on treks. However, I realized that traveling local is as exciting as traveling to some other place. I visited a place for hiking, Khudana Hills. I felt I had been missing such a gem. So, start exploring places near your hometown and spread the word about them.
2. Travel like a local when you travel local
So when you travel local, ensure that you travel local. Didn’t understand? Let me tell you. Take a walk across the city/town. Hire local transports, auto rickshaws. Interact with the local people and take interest in their culture and lifestyle. Go immersive and you will learn a lot about that place. So travel local like a local.
3. Eat local, stay local, and shop local
While you will find the big restaurant, hotel, and retail chains, go for local. When you have to eat, eat at a local restaurant or maybe at someone’s home and pay them for the food. I got to eat locally in some villages of Rajasthan. Buy local stuffs, souvenirs, etc. Staying in resorts, hotels is cool but try staying local, in a homestay preferably. Do couch surfing and experience the local vibes. When you pay to the locals that directly supports the local economy. I stayed in a homestay in Shangarh and enjoyed a tasty homely meal cooked by the owner.
4. Respect the culture and nature
When you travel local, you travel with responsibility. If you are visiting a village, you may not find every facility. Thus, you have to be sensitive to everything. Don’t throw paste waste or any other type of waste around and ensure the sanctity of the local place you are traveling to. Follow the laws and understand them. That way you contribute to ecotourism as well.
5. Volunteer for any cause in the local communities
This is a fun-filled yet learning experience at the same time. Trying volunteering for any cause in the local communities, be it a clean drive conducted to make the surrounding plastic-free or teaching the locals. This way, you will contribute your share to the local communities and in return, you will get a lifetime experience and wonderful memories to cherish forever.
Supporting local tourism is the need of the hour. As per the reports of the UN World Tourism Organization, globally all the destinations have limited or restricted touristy activities. Around 10% of global GDP is supported by tourism itself and when the industries are shut, there is a huge loss. However, nature needed a situation like this. Over tourism had badly impacted nature and natural resources. Since all the activities were stopped due to the pandemic, nature started to heal itself. This has given rise to sustainable tourism.
If we look around, we will find some places which are solely dependent on foreign tourists to keep their motor running. In places like Indonesia where international tourism is a large contributor, traveling local has a new scope. Being travelers, we should ensure that whenever we spent money traveling, that money goes to the locals and local communities. We can’t estimate the loss this global health issue will create and we also have no idea how long it will last.
Spreading a word for the support of the local communities and their businesses is a great help through which one can contribute to the local tourism industry. Whether you visited a small market place of handicrafts or you stayed locally in a home during your visits, tell your friends and share about your experience in social media. That’s the easiest thing one can do on individual grounds. In these unstable situations where every day feels like a challenge, traveling itself is a big step. Thus, traveling locally is what one should be doing. However, ensure that you don’t carry any infection. Get yourself tested and checked before embarking on any journey.
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I am a food & travel enthusiast, a music aficionado, poet, artist, and someone who loves to explore unexplored/off-beat places. I started this blog to share my food and travel journey.