In recent years, a new responsible / ethical tourism started gaining huge popularity. Ethical tourism has many forms and approaches. You can travel responsibly when you decide to maximise the benefit and minimise the harm involved in tourism; things like using public transport, staying in locally owned accommodation, buying locally produced food and drink, and going green are all examples of ethical and responsible tourism. Responsible travel is also about the attitude you take when travelling like respecting the local people, their cultures, economy and the environment!
However, responsible tourism can go way beyond that. Whenever I go somewhere, I try to google the cool initiatives in the city I am visiting. It’s always nice to know what’s happening and see possible ways where you can support; whether through donating, purchasing, or volunteering, it take your experience to another level.
Mayan ethnic fashion is one of the richest, coolest, and most colorful in the world. Buying ethical handicrafts while exploring the city is an interesting and FUN way to help communities while traveling. A personal favorite is Hiptipico, which is an ethical fashion brand based in Panajachel, Guatemala showcasing Mayan artisans and their handmade creations.
Helping out can be as simple as spending a day at World Food Foundation (an organization that works on securing food). Other forms of helping our can be through donating books (English would be appreciated), buying Fair Trade, or helping locals practice English (you might even get to learn some Spanish while doing it).
In the land of the Inca, nothing would be more awesome than to work with local artisans. This is made possible though many initiatives who work on various projects from agriculture to handicrafts. AYNI is an example of those organizations. It has sponsored about 100 families in the village with micro-credit loans. Families use the loans to invest in small businesses in order generate more income so they are better equipped to meet their daily basic needs. They depend heavily on volunteers to achieve their mission. Spending sometime there can be extremely worthwhile.
There are multiple organizations and places where you can stay and teach English or other subjects to underprivileged kids. An example of those organizations is the “Casa de Cultura in La Boquilla” which aims to support and enhance cultural developments in their community in La Boquilla, in the outskirts of Cartagena.