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Sunday, 20 March 2011

Ethical Tourism

What is ethical tourism?

People have differing ideas about what makes ethical tourism and for me the definition given by the travel website is a good summary:

They say:

"Responsible tourism can apply to any type of holiday, from a luxury beach villa to a volunteering project. Responsible tourism simply means holidays that care about local communities & culture as well as wildlife conservation & the environment."

What I'm looking for is a holiday that will enable me to benefit the local community.  Much as I'd like to say I'd volunteer in an orphanage or build a school in a remote village, that's not what I mean.  I just simply want the money I spend to go directly into the pockets of local people. 

As I started to plan this year's 'holiday with a difference' to Turkey for my family of four what I mostly had in mind was that I wanted an 'activity holiday' and that I wanted to avoid the larger hotel complexes that to me could have been anywhere in the world, and particularly the all -inclusive type holidays that are quite prevalent these days.

I have family and friends who are fans of all-inclusive and I don't deny that the water park hotels with their amazing slides and kids clubs look like paradise for young children, but my children are in their teens and were prepared to humour me in return for some adrenalin kicks at some point during the holiday.

I admit that at first I was looking for a package tour - I knew nothing about our chosen destination, spoke none of the language and didn't know where to start, and that's how I came across who are an advertising site that can provide a wide variety of holidays and explain how each is in some way benefiting the local community.

However, in the end I took the brave (or mad) leap and booked everything myself. The advantage of having looked at package tours is that I had a guide budget and that helped me when Googling for rental property and now I have flights, transfers, car hire, activities, villa for a week with a private pool, family-run boutique hotel for a couple of nights and a two day boat trip all for less than the cheapest package holiday I can find. I plan to eat in local restaurants a few times and other than that we will buy from markets and local shops. But ethical?