I’d say about twice a year I go to an event that inspires me so deeply and aligns so remarkably well with what I believe in, that it’ll keep me on a motivational and psychological high for weeks and even months. Last week I had my biannual experience at the Travel+SocialGood Academy Day.
Nicolette Orlemans, who is host of the hugely popular #CultureTrav Twitter Chat and is someone that also inspires me greatly, told me about this event a few days prior over some delicious Korean BBQ. I couldn’t be more elated that she did.
Because of some of my more recent travels, it’s become harder for me to ignore certain disparities that unfortunately take place in more undeveloped countries as a result of the tourism industry there. Particularly, when a country’s poor economy is somewhat exploited so that people can travel there cheaply in comparison to more developed destinations, there inevitably exists a clear imbalance between the locals and the tourists visiting that region.
While tourism is also a hugely significant economic benefit for a lot of these places, I feel that it is still an obligation of the tourists to act socially responsible and respect that place, if only as a return favor for the privilege of getting to visit.
I know this is sort of a sensitive topic, because a big motivation for traveling or vacationing is to forget about your troubles and just to “get away”. There’s also sometimes a sense of helplessness that there’s nothing you can do about the injustices in the world and furthermore it’s plain depressing sometimes. While I can sometimes understand, and unfortunately agree that we can’t always do anything about a lot of the injustices in the world, the good news is that we can certainly do something about the intention behind our experiences, and what types of travelers we are.
To quote Oprah (I can’t help myself), “Once you know better, you do better.”
In my post about Taking Selfies at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, I touched on putting intention behind our social media accounts. I believe the same can be applied here.
The Travel+Social Good organization does just this and encourages people to put intention behind their travels. It was unbelievably exciting to learn of an organization like this that is proactively doing something to transform the tourism industry into a “global force for good”. It’s a young organization, and I’m so excited to watch as it grows into what will inevitably be something quite impactful.
The classes offered throughout the day at this event were uniquely fascinating, and I took a massive amount of useful information away from each one. But something in particular that I keep thinking about in the days that followed the Academy Day was something that Founder Gilad Goren mentioned in his closing remarks (and that I hadn’t previously known or thought about before). It’s also something I did a little more research on later on and am now quite fascinated by:
In 1948, a few years after the United Nations was established, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. In this Declaration, the right to travel is outlined as a basic human right along with the freedom of movement.
How’s that as some food for thought? Travel as our basic human right.
I’m so excited that I learned of the Travel+SocialGood organization this early on in their trajectory, because I have a strong feeling that they are going to explode and really make an impact in Sustainable Tourism. And one that we need so desperately.
***Oh and one more thing! In today’s day and age, we’re all always on the lookout for the next hashtag. Well, here it is: