Would you consider yourself a responsible traveller?
We all like to think we are but could we do more? It’s a subject that’s becoming more important than ever.
Since September 27th was World Tourism Day, I thought I’d join in in celebrating tourism and sustainable development around the world.
In a nutshell, the official World Tourism Day recognises the many wonderful ways that travel can make a positive contribution to the economic, social and environmental elements of a destination, if carried out in the right way.
If we’re responsible about the way we travel and support sustainable projects, we can help champion diverse cultural heritage, improve the protection of our environment and help improve the quality of people’s lives – things that many of us probably intend to do, but perhaps don’t always think about when we’re globetrotting and seeing more and more of our world.
As part of the official World Tourism Day, travellers are being asked to think about the way they travel and ‘take the pledge to #TravelEnjoyRespect.
This got me thinking about the places I’ve been to and the people I’ve met who have really stood out for the way they’re promoting sustainable travel.
So here are 10 of my favourite places and projects I’ve discovered during my travels over the years that are all doing great things for people, the environment and planet Earth.
Have you been anywhere that’s impressed you with its sustainable qualities? Please, share your stories and leave your comments below and let me know.
Are you ready to take the pledge?
Celebrating World Tourism day | 10 great examples of sustainable tourism
Kazuri Bead Factory, Nairobi
The Kazuri Bead Factory is a wonderful place. You’ll find it in the Karen area of Nairobi and it was set up to help underprivileged women make a living in Kenya. As you tour the bead factory, you get to understand the many processes that go into making their colourful beads and you will meet some of the ladies benefiting from the project along the way. You can then buy some of the beads yourself in the shop and all proceeds go back into supporting the business and their employees. Have a read about the Kazuri Bead Factory in my post on top things to do in Karen.
Juma’s Township Tours, Cape Town
If you read my latest post about the street art in Woodstock, you’ll know that Juma’s Tours are doing some great things for Cape Town. Juma offers tours of some of the townships in South Africa to help people gain a deeper understanding of their heritage and the social history behind them. His totally inspiring employee Zacharia is now also helping him in his tours of Woodstock. Partnering with artist Ricky Lee Gordon (aka Freddy Sam), they are helping to deepen the understanding of Woodstock’s history and bring social change to this underprivileged neighbourhood, one mural at a time.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
If you’ve been to Kenya, you’ve probably heard about the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. This charitable organisation in Nairobi, was set up by passionate conservationist Dame Daphne Sheldrick and it’s basically an elephant and rhino sanctuary which helps rear orphaned elephants and injured rhinos in Africa.
It’s an incredibly heart-wrenching and humbling experience when you go. Especially when you learn about the staff who stay by the baby elephants’ sides 24 hours a day. Their conservation and anti-poaching efforts have been recognised worldwide. Find out more about the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in a post I wrote here.
Bee Tourism in Slovenia
I took a great press trip to Slovenia a couple of years ago to explore the country’s honeybee heritage. Before this trip, I had no idea this eastern European country was home to more than 9,000 beekeepers and more than 12,000 apiaries. And amazingly, the tourist board here has developed a kind of ‘honeybee tourism’ otherwise known as ‘apitourism’, to help raise awareness of the global honeybee crisis and the importance of their beekeeping heritage.
If you take advantage of these eco-tours, you’ll visit various farms, try all sorts of bee products and even sample a sparkling wine made from the local honey. Head to the capital city of Ljubljana and you’ll see there’s urban beekeeping going on here too. Find out more on the ApiRoutes website.
Local Ocean Trust, Watamu
When I was travelling along the Kenya coast, we visited a turtle conservation centre in the town of Watamu. There are some fantastic turtle conservation centres all around the world, but this was the first one I’d ever visited and really opened my eyes to the devastating effects of the use of single use plastic and the damage it is doing to our oceans and marine life. From the art sculptures made from plastic and the beach clean-ups they are doing, to of course, the hawksbill turtles they are helping rescue, this centre is doing brilliant things. For more information visit the Watamu Turtles website.
The Good Hotel, London
Back on home soil, there’s a brilliant social initiative going on right here in London, which I discovered very recently during a trip to the Royal Victoria Docks. Named, quite aptly, the ‘Good Hotel’, this non-dividend company was created with a social philosophy in mind. That’s because its Good Training program offers on-the-job hospitality training to long-term unemployed people in a bid to help them re-integrate into the community. I haven’t stayed there, but I did spend the afternoon working in their very hip café and lobby. The best bit is it actually floats – yes it’s a floating hotel! And it took a ‘floating journey’ all the way to London from Amsterdam. Top tip: this is a great hotel to stay in for WTM as it’s right by the ExCel. Book ahead!
The Chao Phya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital, Thailand
The Chao Phya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital in Prachin Buri, Thailand is a fascinating place. Not only does it offer an insight into the history of Thai Traditional Medicine, it also helps boost employment in the Prachin Buri area, which suffered an economic crisis in the 90s. By getting off the usual tourist trail in Thailand and visiting this hospital, you’re helping to support the healthcare industry and back their vision to boost social responsibility in central Thailand. You can read more about the hospital in a post I wrote here.
The Chanthaboon Community, Thailand
There was something really magical about the Chanthaboon Community in Thailand. A quaint and characterful village of gingerbread style buildings, gem workshops and stilted river houses, it’s one of those places that had a time-stood-still feel and you would never want it to change. A visit here will help keep this community thrive and help preserve its gem mining industry and community tourism that it is known for. If I ever go back, I’ll make sure I stay in Baan Luang Rajamaitri, a historic inn and co-operation that won a UNESCO heritage award as it us helping preserve the lifestyle of the community in a sustainable way. Read my post about Chanthaboon here.
Treasure Beach, Jamaica
Another place that deserves all the awards for community tourism is Treasure Beach in the Caribbean. This serene village on the southwest coast of Jamaica may not look like more than a village than you first arrive. But delve a bit deeper and you will find it’s an inspiring place involved in all sorts of sustainable development.
The owner of Jakes Hotel, Jason, is particularly inspiring. He helps fund projects with the local school and the local sports centre that benefit the whole community. He also ensures he employs local people and as a result, the village has a very local feel. When we stayed at Marblue villa suites, they also told us that they help provide jobs to young people who would otherwise struggle to find employment. A highlight of our trip was the Farm-to-Table dinner organised by Jakes. By dining with local farmer, ‘Dool’, we learnt about sustainable farming and how Treasure Beach is the ‘breadbasket region’ of Jamaica. By getting involed in this project, you’re helping Dool carry on his farming business too.
Unseen Tours, London
Have you heard about Unseen Tours in London? This is a walking tour I’ve been meaning to take for so long now but never seemed to get around to booking. What is so amazing about these award-winning tours is they are part of a social enterprise that gives employment opportunities to homeless, ex-homeless and vulnerably housed people in London. The areas they take you to include Brick Lane, Camden, London Bridge and Shoreditch and they only cost £12 to do. I will make it my mission to try it out and learn something new about my city. For more info, check out their website here
Where have you travelled to that’s been a great example of sustainable tourism? Feel free to share your stories in the comments below.