Tourism is a huge industry and it employs more people worldwide than any other industry. However tourism has also impacted negatively in some places over the years with over-development, and strain on local resources.
At Venus Adventures we are passionate about travel and the people and places we visit. We don't want to see these places suffer at the hands of tourism, so we try to keep our impact to a minimum . . . Local communities need to benefit from our presence in a positive way. Our visit should be an exchange, where we don't just look in from the outside, but we interact with the locals - a kind of mutual visit, if you like! However, we also feel it is important to help where we can - thus in the developing countries there are places that we visit to "give back" to the community - maybe we donate clothes, books or money, maybe we spend a day helping out. Examples: in Ethiopia we support the Fistula Hospital for women with childbirth injuries, and the Ploughshare Project for solo mothers struggling to support a family; in Morocco we take clothes and schoolbooks to the Berbers who live in the Atlas mountains. It is great returning each year and seeing a difference in people's lives . . . and of course their smiling faces when they see us coming!
• Be a considerate guest, remember you are in someone else's home.
• Save natural resources: do not waste water by taking long showers or letting the tap run unnecessarily, switch off lights or air con, discourage plastic bags.
• Try not to bring a lot of packaging with you that you will throw away in developing countries where waste disposal may be a problem.
• Do not pollute or litter.
• Respect local wildlife.
• Meet the local people, eat in local restaurants, support local businesses.
• Always ask before taking a picture - or even interact with the person first! Your picture will mean more, and the person will feel less like an object of curiosity.
• Support traditional skills by buying locally made crafts, but do not buy controversial products e.g. ivory, or rare skins.
• Dress and behave appropriately.
• Respect and obey local laws.
• Do not over-bargain: haggling should be a fun experience where everyone is happy after the transaction.
• Humour and a smile is the best way to deal with anything or anyone you find annoying.
• Come with an open mind, accept things are different, not "better" or "worse".
• Try to learn a few words of the local language, e.g. "hello" and "thank you" at the very least. The locals love it, and see it as a sign of respect.
• Have time for people, they are just as interested in you. If you feel hassled by someone, politely let them know this. They usually respect you and leave you alone.
• Do not encourage begging by giving to people who could otherwise support themselves.
• Gift-giving: be aware that this sometimes encourages begging. Have a reason for giving a gift.
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