Celebrate local cultures and improve the livelihoods of host communities
Our world is a wealth of diverse peoples and rich traditions. Because travel brings us to far corners of the globe, it is an unparalleled opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and learn about their ways of life.
While travel enriches our lives and broadens our horizons, it also has the power to support the communities we visit and improve their quality of life. Tourism creates much-needed jobs and income for underserved populations, such as women and rural communities, and brings money into developing countries. Along with providing local economic benefits, tourism can help preserve traditions and foster cultural awareness and pride.
However, tourism can also have the opposite effect. Mass tourism development and disrespectful visitors can spark conflict with host communities. Local residents may be marginalized from the tourism industry and their opinions not valued. Tourism can also aggravate income inequality and community hostility, and contribute to culture loss and degraded heritage sites.
We make sure that local people reap the benefits of tourism and empower them to improve their livelihoods, share their heritage, and contribute to sustainable development.
We’re transforming tourism’s relationship with local communities by addressing the following issues.
Limited Local Economic Benefits
Displacement of Residents
Disrespectful Visitor Behavior
Loss of Local Culture
What's At Stake
Through our work, we aim to strengthen vulnerable communities and safeguard the resources they treasure.
Traditional Cultures & Ways of LifeTourists are drawn to culturally vibrant destinations where they can immerse themselves in the local cuisine, music, religious traditions, and history. However, an influx of foreign visitors can result in a loss of cultural authenticity and distinctiveness as local communities conform to meet tourist desires and western ideals. As more value is placed on tourism and lands are developed, traditional livelihoods, skills, and crafts may be forgotten.
Heritage SitesTourism can damage and degrade places and structures that possess historical or spiritual significance for local communities. Heavy visitation can place excessive pressure on these sites. This coupled with destructive behavior by tourists and a lack of preservation activities can lead to their gradual deterioration.
Indigenous PeoplesIndigenous communities are among the world’s most impoverished people, and they are also some of the most vulnerable to tourism’s impacts. Tourism can lead to conflict and resentment with indigenous people as development drives them from their traditional lands and degrades their sacred sites. This is compounded by the fact that indigenous communities are often excluded from the tourism economy and their traditions misrepresented or exploited in order to entertain tourists.
Local Quality of LifeWhile tourism can benefit local communities by creating new jobs and recreation opportunities, improving local infrastructure, and generating funding for essential services, if tourism is not sustainable it can end up having the opposite effect and diminish the quality of life for local residents. When too many tourists visit a place, it can result in unwanted noise and pollution, crowded roads and beaches, water shortages, and a lack of affordable housing. Oftentimes, tourism is also associated with an increase in crime and safety concerns.
Transforming Tourism's Human Impact
Sustainable tourism doesn’t stop at protecting the environment – it also means transforming tourism’s impact on the people and cultures we visit. At Sustainable Travel International, we believe tourism can and should…
- Be respectful and inclusive of local communities
- Balance visitor growth and tourism development with local needs
- Create decent jobs and economic benefits for local people
- Celebrate cultural heritage in an authentic way
- Stimulate sustainable development and build community resilience
What We're Doing
Inclusive Tourism Development
We ensure tourism development addresses local needs by involving residents in tourism planning and providing opportunities for their voices to be heard.
Local & Respectful Travel
We help travelers make more responsible and mindful choices that benefit the local communities they visit and foster cultural awareness.
Localizing Supply Chains
We help tourism companies maximize the benefits they create for local communities by evaluating their supply chains and identifying opportunities to partner with local businesses.
Community-Based Tourism Products
We build the capacity of local communities to develop and market their own tourism products that showcase their cultural and natural heritage.
Did You Know?
News & Stories
Transform Your Impact
You can support the people and cultures that inspire you.
Protect the Places You Love
Give back to conserve our planet’s most vulnerable destinations and empower the people who live there. Join the movement today.
Get our email updates to see how we’re protecting our planet’s most vulnerable and treasured destinations