What is Alternative Tourism?
Tourism is one of the fastest growing industires with more people being interested to travel and experience different places. However, behind the well-advertised images of holidays and funs lays a darker reality that affects the community. In the same manner that Tourism is too gigantic industry to wish it away. Given the innate desire for travelling, tourism will continue to exist. Hence, there is a need for a kind of tourism that will bring benefit to both the travellers and the local community.
Alternative Tourism is seen to be the kind of tourism that is respectful of nature and culture, and brings several beneficial outcomes, such as:
- Developing a sustainable tourism that protects and enhances the environment;
- Limiting the use of fossil fuels and conserving resources of the community;
- Protection of women and children;
- Protection of worker rights
- Enabling a true people to people interaction between visitors and the the visited, through greater understanding and respect for each other's socio-cultural realities;
- Enabling the visitor to appreciate, celebrate and respect traditional cultures, rituals and wisdom, while discovering local habitats and wildlife;
- Ensuring community ownership to protect and sustain their resources, collaborative decision making, and local capacity building;
- Economic benefits that reach the local people, thereby improving their quality of life.
Various forms of Alternative Tourism
- Cultural and Religious Tourism
Cultural tourism is concerned with exploring and experiencing the country or region's culture, religion, traditions, music and especially its arts. It generally focuses on traditional communities who have diverse customs, unique form of art and a distinct social practices. Pilgrimage is a form of religious tourism and many cultural tours are centered around religious and ethnic festivals.
- Eco Tourism
Eco tourism is defined as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. Ecotourism focuses on socially responsible travel, personal growth, and environmental sustainability. Ecotourism typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Ecotourism is intended to offer tourists insight into the impact of human beings on the environment, and to foster a greater appreciation of our natural habitats.
Responsible ecotourism programs include those that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for local communities.
- Justpeace and Solidarity Tourism
Justpeace tourism aims to help the visitor to deeply understand and experience the local history, culture and current issues as well as how these link to global issues.
- Rural Tourism
Rural tourism focuses on participating in a rural lifestyle. It can be a variant of eco tourism. Most villages can be a tourist attraction with home stay opportunities. The rural tourists may participate in farm activities such as rice planting and harvesting of fruits, vegetables and rice. Village celebrations such as planting festival, harvesting festival and weddings could add much excitement and enrichment to the experience of rural tourist.
- Sports Tourism
Sports tourism refers to travel which involves either viewing or participating in a sporting event staying apart from their usual environment.
Volunteer tourism is travel which includes volunteering for a charitable cause. Volunteer tourism vary widely in scope, from low-skill work digging community wells up local wildlife areas to providing high-skill medical aid in a foreign country. Volunteer tourists are diverse but typically share a desire to “do something good” while also experiencing new places and challenges in locales they might not otherwise visit.