Respecting the indigenous

Respect Cultures & Communities


What are Cultures & Communities

“Respect the authenticity, traditional values and cultural heritage of host communities and contribute to cross-cultural understanding; and ensure viable businesses, and distribute economic benefits to all stakeholders equitably” (UNWTO-UNEP, 2008). With culture being “a set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group” (UNESCO, 2001). 

The aim when travelling is to preserve, nurture and encourage the unique characteristics of each culture and community, including the physical place, the food origins, traditions and cultural sensitivities. 

One main driver for people to travel, is to experience cultures across the globe, yet people are often surprised by different cultures and living standards when they travel. One purpose of travel, is to experience and learn different cultures so it increases our global awareness and learnings.

Try to support the community as a whole, whilst you explore the physical place and get to learn about the people and their traditions. It is about understanding that you are a guest for where you are travelling to, and showing the local people the support and respect you would if visiting someone in their own home.

How boring would travelling be if you didn’t meet people along the way or at your chosen destination. You might as well stay at home if that was the case. To develop friendships people must connect in some form and gain trust in each other. Showing an appreciation of each other’s culture and upbringing helps develop this connection. 

honor sense of place & people
Being Conscious

Why Care?

We as travellers need to understand why a destination is what it is, we cannot expect local people to change their culture to suit your culture.

It would be disrespectful to ask the local people where we travel to change who they are to meet your expectations. The world would be a boring place if we all shared the same traditions and cultures, that’s one of the reasons why we like to travel, to experience the diversity of each country’s culture. 

Before we start to explore a destination when we arrive, we should have the mindset to always honor the place we’re visiting, meaning the physical (natural and man made), individual people, traditional values, cultural heritage, cultural sensitivities, indigenous beliefs and food origins. 

Increase in tourism popularity may mean local people drop their usual cultural beliefs and tradition, so they can maintain income during the change in destination growth. Unfortunately overtoursim is continually becoming more popular, which negatively impacts the authenticity of destinations and the local people living within them. Which may lead onto displacement of local people to other regions which are more affordable to live.

We should remember not to exploit people when we travel, as everyone is a human being and should be treated with equality and with empathy, regardless of someone’s living standards, pay, sexuality, gender, age. When travelling, be aware of certain situations that may exploit people, cultures and communities, and avoid situations such as child labour, modern slavery, low pay rates. 

This applies even more to people and communities at a destination when we travel. We sometimes can travel with a short term mindset, as we don’t live at a destination, so why care how we treat locals if we’re only there for a few days or a week. However if all travellers had this careless attitude, overtime it builds up and negatively impacts locals. They will lose their authenticity, traditional values and cultural heritage. Therefore over time all countries and destinations will become the same, how boring would that be.

Ultimately tourism should benefit communities 
Change in Habits

How can I Help?

We are a multi cultural and multi national planet, that is what makes earth beautiful. When travelling, respect that some destinations have different standards of living than your own, that doesn’t mean they are less or more happier. 

Some people experience culture shock when visiting new locations abroad, as they’re different to their normal way of life. This can be a normal experience for some travellers, especially those new to travelling. There are some tips to help prepare and possibly deal with this whilst abroad and travelling to a new destination. 

In general, it doesn’t take much effort to respect a culture or tradition, possibly wearing different or modest clothing might be required, or withhold from taking certain photos, otherwise it simply means being polite to people and trying to understand their beliefs. It helps to learn about local cultures and communities by speaking to local people, getting involved in traditional events to help educate yourself, and spending time with local families to see how they live their lives. 

We shouldn’t expect to travel to say a remote Papua New Guinea island with the hope of eating a hamburger, plus accessing great wifi connectivity whilst there. One reason the locals are able to hold on to their traditions is because they withhold from modifying their culture to suit certain tourist needs. If they adopted mainstream amenities, facilities and technologies they would lose their authenticity and traditional values. Take Thailand rural life and living, versus the over-touristed Pattaya and Bangkok. Which would you rather experience when truly travelling; a fake Thailand that is portrayed in the tourist hub or the authentic Thailand with meeting the locals, eating the local produce, living like locals.

Respect for other people means you are showing your respect to that culture and community. Remember you are a visitor to a destination, it is common etiquette to respect local cultures, regardless if you agree or not.

Cherish & learn our differences