THE WANDERERS GAZETTE • THE COMMUNITY TOURISM
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
Welcome everyone in our new Monday Gazette
Tourism became one of the main service activities in the entire world.
Its growth during the 20th and 21st centuries exceeded many other activities and allowed to support a great number of populations.
As much as tourism helped in many ways in terms of development, employment and enrichment, its expansion brought on some environmental challenges as well.
The increase of demand led logically to an increase in the supply, and to balance it, companies and organisations have been overusing our natural resources during decades.
Nowadays, we are aware that we raised a point where we must change our mindsets. As each generation had to face the challenge of its time, ours is to transform tourism into a more eco-friendly sector.
Therefore, it is essential to protect the economic resource that is tourism, while respecting all living environments. That's why sustainable tourism, or ecotourism, became a real necessity.
As we explained it in a previous article, ecotourism is based on 3 mainstays :
To learn more about it, we have an article for you here : Ecotourism.
In today's Gazette, we decided to dig a little deeper into the Communities part and explain to you more what Community tourism is about.
Community tourism, what is it ?
Also called indigenous tourism, this is a form of tourism in which locals have the control of the tourist activities offered on their territory.
From the reception of visitors managed directly by the local population to the discovery of different touristic sites, this kind of tourism has been created to empower the local communities. It is particularly present in rural and poor regions.
Not only it creates job opportunities, but the profits are almost entirely donated to local populations, which constitutes a real economic asset for residents and allows them concretising projects that can benefit the entire community.
The main conclusion : These additional incomes help them to improve and protect their cultural and natural assets.
Although this concept is little known and still underdeveloped, community tourism is attracting more and more travelers, who are keen to share the daily life of local communities and fully immerse themselves into their cultures. They usually stay with the locals or in guesthouses managed by the community.
And there is more above all these economic matters. Socially speaking, respecting the socio-cultural authenticity of the host communities is something that tourists should be doing more. This, in order to preserve their traditional values and contribute to intercultural understanding and tolerance. The goal is to keep cultures alive.
How great is it to learn about each other culture ? Or a little bit about their languages, even if it's a few words. That's what traveling is really about.
Because in the end, a country is a face, a smile, a welcome, much more than cities, mountains, forests or rivers.
What's the add-value as a traveler ?
For me, there are 2 main motivations behind each travel project :
Exploring unknown lands, environments and sceneries
Discovering about a country, a culture, about the people
Because a good trip isn't really complete without the human dimension that you can bring to it. What makes a travel exceptional isn't the landscape or the environment itself, but it's the people you are meeting on the way and that are part of your journey.
The best reward for a traveler is the discovery of local's customs and to share their ways of life, to be a part of the population and go on a real immersion trip.
If you haven't met any locals, tried their food, learnt about their histories, how is that trip any different than one you could have done in your own country ?
There are beautiful beaches, mountains, forests or jungles everywhere. What makes it different and unique it's the soul of the culture that surround those places, the history behind.
For example, nowadays, so many people take those pictures that everyone post on social media, but most of them don't even know what it is about.
How many times have you heard : "Oh let's go there, that's the famous Instagram picture spot ". Well, that's great to hear, but tell me more. Why should I go there ? Despite taking the same pictures than thousands of other people.
Isn't better to nourish your eyes with the beauty of the scenery but also your soul with some interesting knowledge ?
Another example, if it's to stay in an all-inclusive resort, with everything "occidentalize" to make you feel "like home", then what's the point of traveling so far for that ? These resorts are everywhere, each as luxurious and fake as the next. What's so special about going there ?
Furthermore, not only those resorts don't give a proper representation of the country they get implanted to, but they are participating to the destruction of the natural environment and to the poverty of the local communities. It started first when they destroyed unspoiled lands to build those huge complexes and it keeps going after as they are also highly polluting and abusing of the natural resources, at the expense of the local population.
To sum up my point, when you decide to travel somewhere, you have to be willing to accept their culture and to respect it. The goal here is to be more open-minded, tolerant and curious about the place YOU decided to travel to.
Therefore, picking the right accommodation, like a local guesthouse rather than a fancy international hotel, is the first step towards this path. Otherwise, it's not worth traveling at all.
Like Robert Lepage once said : "People are scared. Fear is ignorance. So the more educated we are, the more we travel, the more languages we speak, the less we are ignorant, so the less we are afraid. Fear is really ignorance."
The example of Trindade in Brazil
The whole motivation behind this article came while visiting this little fishermen village, along the Costa Verde : Trindade, 45 minutes away from Paraty.
During our day over there, we stumbled upon a gem. We had a late lunch in a little restaurant, owned by a local family, that has been living on these lands since centuries : Casa Caicara. They were so friendly and we learnt a lot about their lives while eating the delicious food they made for us. They were explaining how they actively fight for community tourism, in order to chase away the foreign multinationals that are trying to take their lands.
This place, before being turned into a restaurant, was the home of their family that protected for many years the surroundings, including the beautiful and preserved beach of Cachadaço.
Until the 60's, the beach was populated only by Caiçaras (the local inhabitants), who had a simple life, in harmony with nature. Their economy was based on subsistence farming, like beans or sweet potatoes, and fishing.
In 1968, Trindade was invaded by a multinational company formed by a group of 228 companies, headquartered in Luxembourg. They forced locals to leave their lands and took possession of it, in order to build touristic infrastructures.
But a part of the population, including Benedicto Ignácio, founder of the restaurant we were eating, got all the money they could together to pay themselves a lawyer, in order to defend their lands that have been illegally taken from them.
They fought for the love of their lands because that's where they were born, where they raised their children, it was unacceptable for them to let it go. The multinational company tried to offer a compromise and proposed to buy the lands. But money didn't interest the locals, they wanted their lands back.
After 40 years of fight, in 2008, an agreement has been signed between the local government and the multinational companies. Part of the lands were given back to the locals and recognised as a "Protected Natural Reserve". The agreement states that no foreign company will be ever allowed to claim or buy a piece of lands from this reserve for any business purpose.
Because of them, now the beach and its surroundings remain preserved, with only a few campings and restaurants, all owned and ruled by local communities.
This place became a great example of Community Tourism in Rio de Janeiro's state.
That this kind of touching stories that moved you deep down and made you realise that the touristic habits have to change. Not only to preserve lands or nature, but also the people that have been living, respecting and taking care of from the depths of time.
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See you next week for another Gazette, take care.