After COVID-19, The world has seen a situation full of speculation, fears, hope, and failures. Clearly, now we can say it for everyone that is indeed a "Survival of the fittest."
Amidst all these, traveling is a thing that keeps people like me to have faith, and hope to travel soon and fuel us with zeal. Slowly as the world is healing, soon, the travel industry will gain momentum, and once again, the famous tourist places will whir with people. If not international, we should travel to places in our city, state, or country.
As we know, the tourism industry contributes 9% percent to the worldwide GDP and employment.
In India, PM Narendra Modi started the campaign "Vocal for Local" sometimes back to revive the local businesses' economic conditions. After COVID, it became more critical that we support local businesses. I am sure, in your country, you too want the same. Even when you are traveling, you need to support locals.
Here's how you can support local businesses while you travel.
1. Travel local.
Opt for the destination in your country rather than traveling internationally. This is an excellent way to support local tourism. Our own country has so much to explore and is probably the time to better know our country and its culture. Now you can tell that you know your country well, but I doubt that there are so many traditions, food, cultures, and hidden destinations that are yet to get explored.
2. Eat Local.
As food plays an integral part in the country's culture, it is imperative to try local cuisine rather than dining in a luxurious hotel. By doing these, you will support the local business as the money will reach the community undeviatingly, and you, too, can taste the local food and culture. Next time you visit a destination, try to avoid Burger King, Pizza Express, or Mc Donalds and instead try locally run restaurants, street foods, markets, and help the community.
3. Stay Local
I know hotels and fancy resorts are tempting, and it is not easy to give up. Even I am trying too. But if you look past the comfortability of swimming pools, bars, or play areas, homestays are more enjoyable. If you want an authentic experience with houses reflecting values from every corner of the house, try homestays with the nearest local serving you with the home-cooked food.
4. Buy local
You will decide on how to contribute to the local community and reduce your carbon footprint. One of the easiest ways is to buy products or souvenirs made from indigenous ingredients. Also, try to buy these products from markets or local; shops. If you buy them from Malls or retail shops, the money will not directly go to the immediate neighborhood.
5. Hire a guide
Another genuine way to engage with locals is to hire a guide. It will help you learn more about the place, the stories associated with the place, their culture, food, and day-to-day livelihood. Also, you will help the local person instead of some fantastic stories. I am sure you will agree that some incredible travel stories come from the locals. But be aware that the guide you are hiring is trustworthy. One way to do so is to check their guide license.
6. Participate in local workshops
Another great way to know about the local and help the community is to participate in a local workshop. Next time, when you visit any place, try your culinary skills, or weave a jute bag or pluck some tea leaves with the locals and visit the factories. When you attend these kinds of workshops, you are helping the people associated with it. Many hotels arrange for these kinds of workshops; Avoid it. If you really want to promote local tourism, visit the workshops run by locals or rural workshops.
7. Local transport
Try to travel on local transport as much as you can. You will gain two things from it, you will meet locals, and it is more economical. And if you do so, the environment will thank you as you reduce the carbon footprint, and locals will sustain their livelihood. Obviously, it's a win-win situation for all of you;- You, Locals, and the Environment.
8. Choose Local Tour Operators.
You will get to visit a lot more places with a customized itinerary. On our last trip to Jodhpur, India, we have booked a city tour from locals and saw much more, which was not in our itinerary. This is a fantastic way to create job opportunities for the locals.
9. Traveling in the Off-Peak season.
Have you ever visited Goa in July or Kashmir in August? There are multiple perks when you travel off-seasons such as hotels and restaurants are reasonable, less crowded, and very importantly, you provide economic support to locals where the livelihood mainly depends on tourists.
10. Use local currency
Get comfortable with local currency when you are traveling to international destinations. You will not end up paying too much or just enough.
Do not just visit destinations; bring a smile to people you meet.
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