World Tourism Day: how you make a positive difference through travel
27th September celebrates the UNWTO World Tourism Day, a worldwide initiative which aims to raise awareness about our role as part of a global movement through tourism.
Here are a handful of ways you make a positive difference through travel – so book a hostel, pack your bags and get going:
1. You directly contribute to protecting nature
Visiting National Parks helps to fund preservation projects and help protect indigenous plants, animals and the natural environments which are so precious to the identity of countries and their people: think Australia’s native bushland, Kenya’s vast savannah and South America’s Amazon Rainforest. Why not go on an adventure whilst casually addressing the planet’s pressing conservation issues? Remember to add to your own experiences, but without leaving a trace.
2. You help create jobs
In 2013, travel and tourism directly supported and contributed to more than 100 million jobs, which is only expected to rise. Just think about all the jobs dependent on the tourism industry; not just hostel managers and staff, but tour operators and restauranteurs, right down to local craftspeople creating and selling art and souvenirs – the list goes on. Many countries are heavily dependent on tourism, with the industry forming their main source of income.
3. You support local economies
Which leads us onto the bigger picture: as one of the world’s largest industries, you offer a direct contribution to multi-trillion dollar global economy, by just jumping on a plane. Not only do you contribute to the demand for new jobs and create employment opportunities through travel, you fund local businesses – and this positive effect has a long chain of good impact. Eat at that recommended restaurant which sources local produce, and the farmer who provides the goods gets paid fairly too!
4. You safeguard national heritage
When you travel a country, tour guides, hostel staff and even basic friendly exchanges with locals encourages people to be ambassadors for their community, culture and heritage – carrying it with them and sharing it with those who come to listen. By visiting UNESCO world heritage sites and taking an active interest in learning about the past, you keep local heritage intact for the future.
5. You build bridges through cultural understanding
Just stop for a minute to consider how powerful travel is. Where once, encountering different cultures was only possible by chance encounters, word of mouth or media coverage, we can now sit down and share a meal with a stranger from the other side of the world, who has vastly different opinions, ideas and politics to us. Small gestures make big steps: gaining a new perspective over a coffee and a conversation, and learning about something new – whether it’s a cuisine or a conflict – contributes to the tolerance and open-mindedness the whole world needs.
A few ways to make a positive change with HI:
We hold over 5000 sustainability initiatives worldwide, involving over 1 million guests and locals. Here are just a few to get stuck into:
- Our global in-hostel event Sleep for Peace helps to break down barriers, raise cultural awareness and get to the core of what unites us. All you need to do is be there!
- Volunteer or be a ‘voluntourist’ at our hostels all over the world
- Donate a tiny amount to our HI Sustainability Fund when you book a hostel, which helps hostels become more environmentally friendly and encourages sustainable development
Find out what everyone’s up to on the 27th: