Traveling with a purpose… a new way of seeing the world while giving back.
shared by Brent Lindeque
There are new emerging globe-trotters who are focused on not only seeing the world but also doing everything in their power to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy.
They call is ‘responsible or sustainable tourism’ and the idea is mainly conceived with three kinds of responsibilities which are termed as the ‘triple bottom-line’ economic responsibility, social responsibility and environmental responsibility.
Though the concept has been around since 1996, it was only after South Africa held a global Responsible Tourism conference in 2002 that the idea started becoming a world wide trend.
The Cape Town Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations was organised by the Responsible Tourism Partnership and Western Cape Tourism as a side event preceding the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002, and attended by 280 delegates from 20 countries. It grew out of the South African work on responsible tourism guidelines and involved delegates field-testing the South African Guidelines on sites in and around the city.
Responsible Tourism encompasses all forms of tourism and seeks to minimize negative economic, environment and social impacts. It generates greater economic benefits to local people and enhances the wellbeing of local communities. It also makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, and maintenance of the world’s diversity.
“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Kerala has emerged as one of the primary tourism destinations on the international map and is also considered as one of the top ‘Responsible Tourism’ trendsetters.
The availability of plenty of natural resources, skilled manpower, supportive entrepreneurial community, strong local-self-governments, civil society organizations, multitude of micro enterprises, streams of professionals and academicians, responsible media and responsive tourism industry, provide the state an ideal setting to implement and practice ‘Responsible Tourism.’
The Blue Yonder, one of the companies leading the movement in Kerala, was founded by Gopinath Parayil (Gopi) in 2004 as part of his journey to promote the unique river valley civilisation of Nila in Kerala (Bharatapuzha).
The company brings together authentic and unique experiences that are intimately connected to the local communities they engage and work together with. They enable travellers to be part of some of the most inspiring stories around – of communities working together to provide unique experiences in some of the most magical places on Earth.
Creating better places for people to live in and for people to visit.
We understand that our travellers want to feel something new; they want a fresh sensory experience, they want to feel anew. The Blue Yonder makes that magic happen through local encounter. When we take you off the beaten track, away from the familiar, into the brave new world of discovery, novelty – and wonder – there’s always a story to be found, to be told, to be heard, to be experienced. – Gopi
The Blue Yonder develops travel encounters that reveal truths about the places travellers visit, by creating meaningful connections to local people and ensuring that the trip is beneficial to both the travellers and the residents they meet.
They bring out what is special about that community – its original flavours and practices. The company believes that travelling this way brings foreigners closer to how people really live.
Recently, the District administration of Kozhikode in partnership with many civil society organisations , social enterprises like The Blue Yonder along with many thousand volunteers developed a project called ‘Compassionate Kozhikode‘, a platform highlighting responsible tourism by marrying travelers to initiatives that matter… creating purposeful travel.
“Compassionate Kozhikode believes that most of the human beings are basically compassionate and capable of expressing it when opportunities are made visible. Some of these featured initiatives we hope will be a tipping point for building a compassionate destination out of Kozhikode. Join us by volunteering your time or contributing in kind.”
The platform features hundreds of initiatives that have all been designed to create sustainable positive change while still being fun.
There’s the Freedom Cafe – where you don’t pay for your own meal but rather ‘Pay it Forward’ by buying someone else’s or the local school project where travelers will get to spend the day with the kids of Kerala while being entertained by local dancers.
Global economists forecast continuing international tourism growth, the amount depending on the location. As one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries, this continuous growth will place great stress on remaining biologically diverse habitats and indigenous cultures, which are often used to support mass tourism. Tourists who promote sustainable tourism are sensitive to these dangers and seek to protect tourist destinations, and to protect tourism as an industry.
Increasingly, destinations and tourism operations are endorsing and following “responsible tourism” as a pathway towards sustainable tourism.
Responsible tourism has an ultimate goal of sustainable development and even though new emerging globe-trotters are setting the trend, it’s really every travellers responsibility.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandi