As a traveler abroad, the choices you make can have a great impact on the countries and the communities you visit. We want to ensure our readers have the best tools at their disposal to travel responsibly and sustainably.
Earlier this month, we highlighted the importance of responsible volunteering and shared an online platform - GivingWay - which facilitates finding opportunities abroad without the hefty fees and smoke screens of large placement agencies.
With more than 250 organizations in over 50 countries, GivingWay offers travelers a range of choices for travelers looking for their next volunteer opportunity. To guide travelers further, we’ve rounded up a list of outstanding organizations that are simultaneously promoting responsible tourism and supporting the development of local communities in countries around the world.
Three Outstanding Responsible Tourism Organizations
- Uthando is a nonprofit and Fair Trade in Tourism-accredited organization that strives to raise funds for community development projects through tourism while celebrating South African culture, as well as local community heroes. Uthando offers tours for travelers and groups to visit community projects ranging from environmental initiatives to prisoner rehabilitation. Uthando is committed to generating greater economic benefits for local people, improving working conditions and conserving South Africa’s natural and cultural heritage. Visiting Uthando’s community projects through one of their tours is the best way to learn more about South Africa and the organizations making the nation a better place.
- PEPY Tours is a tourism organization catering to travelers visiting Cambodia and Nepal. PEPY offers tours that include sightseeing and cultural immersion while maintaining a commitment to responsible travel by raising money to support local community development and encouraging travelers to learn from the communities they visit. The core value instilled by the founders of PEPY tours is that learning comes through experience and that travelers must learn about a community before they can ‘help’ and make a difference. As travelers, we could all learn from this wise belief and incorporate it in our travels, no matter where they take us.
- Mexico has long been a sought out destination thanks to its breathtaking natural beauty, archeological treasures and rich culture. Journey Mexico takes popular ecotourism practices a step further by working with local communities and non-profit organizations that protect the environment as well as generate jobs and further economic development. In their approach to environmental sustainability, the team behind Journey Mexico emphasizes that collaboration between local communities and foreign visitors is the best way to ensure the protection of local ecosystems as well as inject revenue from tourism back into the economy. Journey Mexico fosters awareness, in locals and visitors alike, of Mexico’s quickly depleting natural resources and offers alternatives to traditional resource depleting activities.
As these organizations emphasize, being a sustainable traveler is just as much about supporting local communities as it is about respecting your natural surroundings.
The organizations we’ve rounded up are sure to provide travelers with a greater perspective on the realities and the challenges the countries they visit face. These organizations are also a great place to start for travelers looking into volunteering abroad, as they are working hand in hand with grassroots organizations.
However, we always want to encourage travelers to do research on their own and strive to volunteer at an organization where their specific skill set and knowledge might be particularly beneficial and impactful. While traveling abroad, whether you’re volunteering or on a 4-day vacation, the choices you make matter.