An industry of kindly strangers

When travel is undertaken with an eye to kindness, tourists will travel with humility and with a desire to learn. They will think of themselves as guests in somebody else’s home. By traveling with respect, they will earn respect. In fact, tourists will “travel like Gandhi with simple clothes, open eyes and an uncluttered mind,” as Rick Steves said.

Holidays will be about mutually beneficial exchanges of trust, wisdom and humor with local people rather than about being cocooned in compounds marketed as all inclusive resorts. Holiday stories about the diversity of local cultures and about the new friends and knowledge that visitors have gained, will replace stories about the cheapness of the resort.

Instead of hawking a superficial exoticism and a reconstructed ethnicity, the tourism industry will treasure and celebrate local cultures. Rather than trinketize them, degrade ecosystems and coca-colonize the planet, the industry will serve to enhance and protect fragile cultures and the environments that they depend on.

The tourism industry will cease to “discover”, exploit and discard destinations in order to move on to and wreck the next unspoiled paradise. Rather than imposing its will on destinations, the travel industry will work in partnership with local people and governments to create better places for local communities and for tourists.

And we will see a revolution of understanding between people from different cultures. The culture of fear and mistrust generated by the media will be replaced with a culture of understanding and respect, generated by shared experiences. Tourists will rediscover the magic of travel.

Justin Francis responsibletravel.com and IKnowaGreatPlace.com

First published: 2003, ed. Roddick, Anita. A Revolution in Kindness. Sussex: Anita Roddick Publications

Justin Francis completed the ICRT Masters at Greenwich in 2001

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