Overtourism, greedy mega developers, and all-inclusive resorts often marginalize local communities and damage fragile environments. Why? Because many foreign investors and mass tourism companies care about short-term profit more than long-term sustainability.
According to the UN, when a typical international traveler visits a developing country, only $5 of every $100 of their travel spending goes to local communities. When tourism dollars don’t stay local, local communities miss out on the opportunity to invest in themselves. Travel is the world's largest industry, generating over $7 trillion in global GDP. Imagine the good we could do if more of that spending stayed local.
When travel dollars stay local, good stuff happens. Fortunately, there are already more than 50,000 local lodges and community tourism activity providers around the world using travel to make a positive impact.
The positive impact of empowering local communities and entrepreneurs is clear. If you know where to look, you can find incredible ecolodges owned by indigenous communities in the Amazon; homestay networks empowering women in rural Nepal; boat trips with local guides in Costa Rica that help preserve thousands of hectares of primary forests; and so much more. The cherry on top? These impactful experiences make for a more memorable and meaningful trip.
The tropical rainforest of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula contains 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity on less than one millionth of the planet’s surface. When we first went down there in 2012, we instantly fell in love. When we learned that its incredible natural beauty caught the eye of the tourism industry and the planned construction of an international airport was threatening to transform the region forever...we wanted to help and needed to learn more.Watch the full documentary >
Osa Wild connects travelers to diverse family projects from a completely natural retreat amid mountains, trees, waterfalls and animals, to the preparation of Costa Rican dishes, fishing, milking, use of a mill, and the simple, humble and beautiful sharing with Costa Rican families. They are the first 100% Costa Rican-run tour operator focused on promoting community tourism.
De la Chinampa a tu Mesa is a non-profit organization supporting ecological preservation and sustainable agriculture in the chinampas of Xochimilco - the famous floating gardens of Mexico City. The owner, Ricardo Rodriguez, leads tours through the beautiful canals offering food from local farms, a visit to the chinampas, and knowledge about the history of the area.
Uakari Lodge allows you to explore the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve, the largest protected flooded forest in the world, in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest. Five floating bungalows allow you to witness the flooding of the forest during the rainy season and explore by canoe to see abundant wildlife like the red-faced white uakari monkey and the black faced squirrel monkey.