Socially Responsible Travel and Ecotourism
Latter-day jet travel has brought droves of vacationing tourists to developing countries largely unprepared for the consequences. As the visitors’ numbers swell, power grids black out, sewers overflow, and roads crack under the strain of accommodating more and larger hotels, restaurants, cars, buses, and airports.
Worse yet, armies of vacationers drive up local prices and begin to change native customs. While visions of tourists as sources of fast money replace traditions of hospitality, television wipes out folk entertainment, Coke and Pepsi substitute for fruit drinks, and prostitution and drugs flourish.
Some travelers have said enough is enough and are forming organizations to encourage visitors to travel with increased sensitivity to native people and customs. They have developed travelers’ codes of ethics and guidelines that encourage visitors to stay at local-style accommodations, use local transportation, and seek alternative vacations and tours, such as language-study and cultural programs and people-to-people work projects.
A number of especially active socially responsible travel groups sponsor tours all over the world, including some in the Puerto Vallarta region. These include organizations such as Green Tortoise (www.greentortoise.com) and Green Globe (www.greenglobe.org), both of which run tours that visit the Puerto Vallarta region. For more alternatives, visit the umbrella website www.sociallyresponsible.org.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition