Tourism around the planet is a massive and growing industry. It is an industry that reflects the colour and diversity of the world's communities, but also their divisions and inequities. Within this industry there are huge opportunities for a myriad of social enterprises and collaborative business developments oriented to social change and social development on a global scale.
When we travel from our homelands on work, business or pleasure, most of us would like to meet interesting and passionate people in their communities and cultures, and establish authentic and ongoing social connections. In reality, this is hard to do. Most of us end up dealing with conventional tourism products and services in order to get around, eat, find accommodation, and entertain ourselves, with most of our money going to conventional business operators, some of them unethical, some unscrupulous, and many of them based in places far removed from our destinations of interest.
All this could be done very differently. We could, when we travel, meet, eat, stay with, and be entertained by local people and become engaged and inspired with their projects and aspirations. Our money could find its way into a kaleidoscope of social enterprises. We could be guided through the maze of operators, souvenirs, transport, hotel and eating options by a recognisable global brand like Fair Trade (perhaps Fair Travel?).
Social Enterprise Partnerships is keen to hear from individuals and organisations around the world who have an interest in developing a collaborative project in global social tourism. We'd like to hear from you if you are interested. Register your interest in the online form at http://www.partnerships.org.au/SocialTourism.htm
By 'social tourism', we mean travelling in ways that:
a. develop interactions, learning, and social relationships between travellers and local people, and seek to establish ongoing social connections between them;b. build on social connections to introduce travellers to rich social and cultural experiences that are inaccessible through conventional state or market mechanisms;
c. develop global markets for products and services from social enterprises that have appeal to travellers; andd. develop opportunities for disadvantaged people and communities to connect with travellers in mutually beneficial ways.
We see great scope for a global 'brand' to identify social tourism ventures which:
1. provide opportunities for travellers to interact with local people through social experiences, cultural events, tours, accommodation, food, and hospitality;2. provide opportunities for disadvantaged people and communities to connect with travellers and participate in global tourism markets; and
3. signal to travellers that products and services carrying the brand are generated by groups or social enterprises which benefit the producers and their communities, and operate in an ethical manner.
This is a potentially huge project. Every big project has to begin somewhere, so we would like to hear from people who have an interest. We will progress the project to the best of our ability, but we do not seek any kind of proprietorial role or ownership. We like the idea of collaboration in global social tourism emerging from communities around the world.
A global Exploratory Working Group will be constituted to explore these questions, and progress them step by step.
People and enterprises interested in participating in a global project around these issues are invited to comment.
Further information: http://www.partnerships.org.au/SocialTourism.htm