There are more than 1.5 billion people around the world who have little access to the most basic human needs, then on the other hand, from the UK alone, there are about 17 million people who travel abroad every year. Imagine the impact travellers can have on the less fortunate if their time and money are steered in the right direction. Right now, Fair Trade Tourism is engrossing the world and making itself known as the ultimate travel experience. Social responsibility, community development and environmental sustainability are just some of the key terms. But so are cultural diversity, raw natural beauty and unforgettable experiences. Interested in being part of the travel revolution?
Fair Trade Travel
In one sentence, the goal of 'Fair Trade Tourism' is to promote an equally beneficial and respectful exchange between tourists and hosts, and to preserve the natural environment where the tourism industry has influence, so that everyone around the world becomes a welcomed visitor in each others' country. In short, a fairly-traded holiday experience - like the name says. Unfortunately there is no official international 'Fair Trade Tourism' authority (yet) that you can measure a holiday against, so it's up to you to make sure your trip is in line with the principles of Fair Trade.
Where Did Fair Trade Tourism Come From?
If you look at the developing destinations in this feature article, you'll notice a few common characteristics they all share: a unique climate and ecosystem, plenty of natural resources, a struggling economy and a surplus of cheap labour. To some extent, 'Fair Trade Tourism', is a reaction to exploitation in the tourism industry, mostly in developing countries, where it has been guilty of bad labour relations (underpaying local staff), poor ecological planning and profiteering at the expense of another country's resources. The fact that there is a Fair Trade movement today tells us that an 'Unfair Trade Tourism' was the starting point.
But it's more than just a 'finger-pointing' movement or a set of buzz words you'll hear BA students throwing around.
The Principles Of Fair Trade Tourism
We thought we'd get an expert to help us answer this. According to Nicola Frame from Intrepid Travel, one of the world leaders in ethical tourism, about their take on Fair Trade and Responsible Travel:
"For Intrepid, it's about exploring the world in a way that respects and benefits local people, their culture and economy, as well as the environment. We design our trips so that travellers can interact with local people, try local street food, get around by all manner of local transport and stay in locally-owned accommodation or homestays. 78% of our tour income stays in the country or region where the tour takes place”.
These are all things that apply to the UK as much as they do in India, Vietnam and Costa Rica. It's not a high-brow crusade to rescue the Third World, and people who make it seem that way are missing the point. It's about re-assessing and improving the cultural climate of the tourism industry, based on common values that people are becoming more aware of today. In much the same way that eating organic food and recycling have become proactive behavioural norms, the tourism industry is cleaning up its act too.
It's really about more than just ethics, though. By hiring local tour guides and using local companies, you're also benefitting by getting local knowledge from the people who know the area best. "Not only does our style of travel bring financial and other benefits to the communities where we operate, we believe it also makes for an authentic and memorable experience for the traveller", Frame says.
Is 'Fair Trade Tourism' And 'Ecotourism' The Same Thing?
Essentially they're both playing for the same team, but there are differences in the areas of focus. While Ecotourism focuses on natural environments that are sensitive to human involvement, Fair Trade Tourism concerns itself with the relationship between local communities, tourists and the environment. Ecotourism is closer to biology and science, while Fair Trade Tourism is more sociology and business law.
How Is 'Fair Trade Tourism' Different From 'Fair Trade Agriculture'?
I'm sure you've seen 'Fair Trade' products popping up more and more around super markets and on restaurant menus. These are products that are bought, packaged and sold with the same principles in mind as those we've just been through. The merit of many Fair Trade products is still under scrutiny, because there's no visibility or transparency in the exchange between farmer, buyer and supplier before goods wind up at your local Tescos. With the tourism industry, you are part of the transaction. You can meet your tour guides, talk with local people and see exactly where your money is going.
By Clayton TruscottBack to top
Central and South America are home to a collection of the world's most acclaimed and promising tourist destinations. From Belize and Guatemala in the north, all the way down to Cape Horn at the southern end of Chile, there is incredible diversity in the vegetation, landforms and culture of each country. The common thread between them all is the outdoors - the Central and South American experience is best enjoyed at ground level, in a pair of muddy boots or comfy flip-flops, right beside the people who live there. Backpackers and eco-tourists have been treading up and down those parts for decades, which has done a lot to create a platform for Fair Trade Travel. There are countless eco-lodges, hostels and tour companies that brandish their business ethics, because it's such a big deal already. Whether you're climbing Machu Picchu or taking a wine tour in Argentina, what you should look for in a Fair Trade company is local involvement on as many levels as possible. You can find out a lot of this before even making a booking enquiry. To give you an idea of what's on offer and how to approach this kind of holiday, I'll go through three amazing destinations.
With the Pacific Ocean to the West and the Caribbean Sea to the East, Costa Rica is a micro-paradise wedged between two beauties. It's one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world, with 20 natural parks, 8 biological reserves, over 9000 plant species and a cast of creatures that includes toucans, howler monkeys and jaguars. Towards the interior you've got volcanic mountains and rain forests, and along the coast there's a selection of beaches that look like a cocktail mixed with the best traits of Hawaii, Brazil and Cuba. It's an incredible place, where protected land constitutes roughly one quarter of the country's entire land mass - precisely the reason it's such a hit with eco-travellers.
The climate and landscape in Costa Rica is responsible for the country's primary sources of income - agriculture and tourism. Because of its importance, the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) has developed one of the world's most progressive tourism development models, which serves to protect and preserve the natural, social and cultural resources of the country through its Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program. This is a nationally recognised award that shows a business's commitment to ethical standards. According to the ICT's website, the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program's fundamental purpose "is to make sustainability a practical and necessary reality within the context of the country's competitiveness in tourism, while looking to improve the way that natural and social resources are used, encourage the active participation of local communities and provide a new source of competitiveness within the business sector”.
Where To Stay
When you're looking for accommodation in Costa Rica, keep an eye out for places showing the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program logo. Affiliated businesses are ranked from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest), showing “the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and social resource management”. If you log on to the CST's website (www.turismo-sostenible.co.cr/en) you will find a directory of affiliated hotels, resorts, spas, eco-lodges and backpacker hostels. Cost-wise you can expect to pay between £7 and £15 for basic, hostel-type accommodation, and all the way up to £200 per person sharing for a luxury eco-lodge with spa facilities, a fine dining restaurant and all the trimmings. That said, there is plenty to choose from between those two numbers. One of the most amazing things about accommodation in Costa Rica is the value for money you get. What is considered 'middle of the road' at an eco-lodge would be considered high-end just about anywhere else in the world.
What To Do
Take walks, swim in the sea, surf, climb hills, sun tan, visit the National Parks and animal rescue centres. Stay outdoors - it's where the fun is.
How Fair Trade Helps
By spending your money on local businesses and supporting the tourism in the national parks, you're ensuring that Costa Ricans can keep welcoming visitors into their country. As mentioned earlier, tourism is one of the two main sources of income for the country, so it's essential that locals reap the benefits of travellers' business and that their resources are preserved.
Ecuador is a small, but high-impact South American destination with more UNESCO World Heritage Sites and natural beauty than it regularly gets credit for. The local currency is the US Dollar, but don't let that put you off: the prices look like they are from 1945. It's an extremely affordable holiday for a country that has so much to offer. As part of a new initiative to boost responsible tourism, the national tourism board has started promoting its Conscious Tourism message, which is "based on ethical and sustainable principles... promoting the values of peace, friendship, respect and love for life as the essence of the tourism practice". It goes on to ask for an "agreement of coexistence, responsibility, mutual respect and fellowship between the tourism industry and its consumers, with our natural and cultural heritage". Conscious Tourism is a dynamic concept that lives and is constantly evolving. It is an experience of giving and receiving. In terms of Fair Trade standards, this plea goes right to the core of its mission.
Where To Stay
In the rural areas there are plenty of eco-lodges that range from £20 per person per night, going up to £120 per person, depending on how fancy you'd like to get. Responsible Tourism is a national interest in Ecuador, which means you won't struggle to find a good lodge with a sound ecological policy and good ethical wage standards. In bigger towns and cities, locally-run backpackers are very reasonable, costing between £5 and £10 per person. If you're happy with the price tag on accommodation, you'll be thrilled by how reasonable (and delicious) local food is.
What To Do
Ecuador is divided into four main regions: Coastal, Highlands, Amazon and the Galapagos Islands (home to some of the most interesting wildlife and landforms on the planet). Although each region has its noteworthy traits, there's a beautiful urban/rural collision that permeates across the country; cities, towns, mountains, forests and beaches all seem to run into one another. Baños, for example, is a remarkable city with colonial churches lining its busy streets and a renowned nightlife scene, but it's also enshrined by lush, green hills. Just beyond the fringe of the city limits you'll find waterfalls and thermal baths heated by the nearby Volcano Tungurahua. There are opportunities to go ziplining, hiking, cycling, swimming - it's widely known as the adventure capital of Ecuador and it's right at the doorstep of one of the liveliest cities in the country.
The crown jewel of Ecuador's cities is Quito, the capital - a UNESCO World Heritage Site all by itself, because of Old City and its vast collection of Spanish colonial architecture. Like Baños, it's really vibrant and fun for travellers who don't mind making new friends - just remember to bring your book of Spanish phrases, and your manners.
To complete your Fair Trade holiday experience, visit one of the banana plantations near the coast. Tours cost between £8 and £15 per person (depending on the group size) and visitors are given a thorough look at the entire process (from planting to fumigating against diseases, and packaging) that 'Fair Trade' bananas and their handlers go through to fill our shops.
How Fair Trade Helps
Besides sustaining local businesses, Fair Trade Tourism in Ecuador takes travellers to many of the farms and workshops where Fair Trade goods are grown and packaged. It'll make you see that bunch of bananas in your veggie basket in a new light.
Patagonia is a stark contrast to the tropical wonderland of Costa Rica, but it's beautiful in an entirely different way. This is Trekking Mecca, where jagged mountain peaks face ancient glaciers and icy blue lakes. The pictures, though amazing, just don't come close to doing it justice. The opportunities for Fair Trade Tourism extend down a number of avenues. The main one, which applies to hikers, trekkers and campers, is using local companies that employ Chilean guides - not only does this support the local community, but it'll also mean learning about the area from the people who know it best.
Where To Stay
Because of Patagonia's popularity, both on the Argentinian and Chilean sides, there are a number of locally-run tour companies, hostels and lodges to choose from. Hostel prices start at around £6 per person sharing and go up to around £12 before heading into the hotel bracket. There is also the Homestay option, where a local family hosts and looks after you, which costs between £22 and £30 per person. As far as Fair Trade principles go, this is the perfect arrangement, as you'll get the Chilean experience that no hotel, lodge or spa could give.
Another option that really stands out is EcoCamp Patagonia, situated inside the Torres del Paine National Park. It's a locally-owned, locally-maintained business, which specialises in carbon-neutral adventure holidays that will change your life. The original founders are a pair of engineers, Javier Lopez and Yerko Ivelic, and a kayak instructor, Nani Astorga. The combination of their skills and knowledge has resulted in the most exciting carbon-neutral camp you're ever likely to see. Everything in the park, from the sourcing of food to the handling of waste management, is done with the environment and community in mind. They employ a team of guides, cooks, assistants, maintenance staff, house keepers and administrators from the neighboring towns of Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. The four main objectives outlined on EcoCamp's website are:
- Create and provide an innovative, high-quality experience for each individual during their trip
- Develop and promote environmentally-friendly tourism, which is 100% sustainable wherever possible
- Support nature conservation and the preservation of flora and fauna
- Ensure excellent working conditions for all staff at EcoCamp, enabling their personal and professional development
As far as the cost goes, it's more expensive than staying in hostels or homestay, but you're paying for an unbelievable experience at a top-class facility. Packages range from £1,000 and go up to £4,000 depending on your numbers and the length of your stay.
What To Do
Imagine the best camping trip of your entire life, and then multiply the experience by a zillion - that's camping in Chilean Patagonia. Hiking, cycling, horse-back riding, game drives and kayak tours are at the top of the list. Realistically, you could do just about anything with those mountains in the background and it would seem like fun.
How Fair Trade Helps
Patagonia is mostly protected land. It's one of the most untouched, unspoiled and mesmerising areas left on the planet. By choosing to use green companies that respect this fragile habitat, you're ensuring it's still there for our kids to see in the same state decades later. Also, by giving local and ethical tour operators your business, you ensure that Chilean people benefit from your incredible holiday. Besides tourism and agriculture, there's not a lot of work to go around, so it's imperative that we show support to the right people.
By Clayton TruscottBack to top
South Africa is a country alive with controversial history, a menagerie of cultures and an energy that can’t quite be described, but one that keeps travellers’ interests piqued and passports repeatedly stamped. And now with the establishment of the Fair Trade Travel Pass, tourism is finally benefitting the people who deserve it most - the vibrant communities who drive so much of the country’s foreign interest, but which previously remained more of a spectacle in the whole experience, than responsible and respected players in it.
Fair Trade Travel Pass
The Travel Pass is unlike any other Fair Trade journey in the world. Nine Fairtrade-accredited, backpacker-style lodges from across South Africa have joined forces with various eco-orientated organisations and community development projects to provide travellers with the ultimate travel experience, which is also entirely Fairtrade-friendly.
Travellers can choose either a 14 night (£825) or 21 night (£1200) pre-planned (by you, with the help of a South African tourism expert) trip, starting either in SA’s Mother City, Cape Town and heading towards Johannesburg, or vice versa. All your domestic flights, bus travel and shuttle services will also be pre-arranged and included in the package price. That means your itinerary, transport, accommodation and volunteer experiences are all effortlessly organised and booked before you even land at the airport, so your biggest worry when travelling through this vibrant country is whether you’re getting enough photographs or if you should spend the day learning to surf or cliff jumping into the Indian Ocean.
All of the accommodation you will be residing in is ethically, socially and environmentally responsible, which means you’ll be benefitting local communities and economies before you’ve even put a foot out of bed. And each day will be a chance to take part in an array of activities or make the most of community-involvement opportunities... all the while surrounded by South Africa’s most naturally beautiful landscapes.
Where To Stay
The Backpack is Cape Town’s answer to the travelling life. Nestled in the nicest part of the heart of the city, the front doors open to nearby restaurants and quirky shops and its backdrop is none other than the world famous Table Mountain. I could mention the awards they've won, but you probably won’t remember them when you’re reclining in the open-air cafe, enjoying a freshly-made meal, sipping on a cool drink or sharing stories with fellow travellers, feeling the mountain's energy just over your shoulder. Depending on which direction you plan your trip, The Backpack will either be your first or last Travel Pass destination.
A short flight to East London puts you in the Eastern Cape at Chintsa’s legendary Buccaneers Backpackers. Ever stayed in a coastal village surrounded by 8 hectares of unspoilt forest? The hostel is laid-back and friendly, and welcomes travellers with a curious mind and an enthusiastic stride. Aside from the many activities available, the poolside is a great place to meet like-minded souls or chill out after a busy day. This will also be base camp for participating in an unforgettable volunteer programme, Volunteer Africa 32° South (see more about it below).
The next part of your journey takes you into the remotest parts of Transkei. It’s a world still beautifully rural and steeped in rich culture. Rolling green hills direct travellers to the unspoilt coast, tempting you to set up camp right there on the white sand lapped by the warm ocean. You have the choice of staying at Bulungula Lodge, the Coffee Shack and Mdumbi Backpackers, or all three (which is what I’d recommend). Just be prepared for the Wild Coast to suck you in, because it’s quite likely that the only reason you’ll be happy to leave is knowing that there’s more of this diverse country to experience.
- Bulungula Lodge
Bulungula Lodge is idyllically located on top of a grassy hill at the sea's edge on the Wild Coast. Its focus on Fair Trade Tourism and determination to involve the local community as key players in the venture has made it stand out as something of a Fair Trade beacon of light, making it a must-do on any responsible traveller’s list. Bulungula believes that travelling is about immersing yourself in new experiences and the surrounding Nqileni Village emanates this by welcoming visitors to experience traditional community life with them; in their homes, fields and social gatherings. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.
- The Coffee Shack
Coffee Bay is perhaps the Johnny Depp of the Wild Coast - an almost impossible balance of a rugged, but styled exterior canvassing an undoubtable raw, natural beauty. Unlike its neighbours Bulungula and Mdumbi, Coffee Bay does have a few shops and a cluster of backpacker accommodation, but perhaps that only reinforces just how popular this coastal gem really is. The village’s famous Coffee Shack, situated right on the beach at the mouth of the Bomvu River, is a fun-loving Fair Trade paradise with a keen involvement in the developing community and a pivotal focus on the environment. It’s been luring travellers for years and there’s no questioning why.
- Mdumbi Backpackers
Mdumbi Backpackers is the offspring of a Wild Coast local, and godchild of the local Pondo people. Below the hill on which it’s perched is a meandering river and a seemingly endless beach, and above it hangs the African sky and breathtaking sunsets.
As a cornerstone of Fair Trade Tourism, the local community plays an integral role in the running of it, which in turn means that travellers are given the opportunity to step into the world of a traditional Xhosa community. On paper Mdumbi Backpackers is a community-driven incentive focused on health awareness, education projects and sustainable eco-tourism, but in reality it’s so much more. Some might argue that it’s the soul of the Transkei Homeland, others keep coming back again and again to try put their finger on just what makes this place so special.
When you can drag yourself away from the Wild Coast, you’ll head inland to the majestic Drakensberg Mountains (highest mountain range in Southern Africa). Seated deep in these mountains and at the foot of the Sani Pass,
Sani Lodge thrives as a laid-back country haven and community development project. The staff are experts on the natural surroundings and offer a wealth of knowledge for travellers wanting to make the most of their experience. And the best part? Whether you’re immersed in one of the many activities on offer or taking a break to breath in the fresh mountain air, you’ll be benefitting the local community just by being there.
Does the name ‘Soweto’ reverberate for you? Besides being a fundamental anchor in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, it was also home for previous president, Nelson Mandela. Today it’s a symbol of a country reformed, an icon of healing and progress. And proclaimed to be the most famous township in the world, it should be no surprise that world-class backpacker accommodation has been established to give travellers the fullest experience possible. Soweto Backpackers is situated in the middle of a welcoming community, one that is just as passionate about enhancing the lives of locals as it is about opening travellers’ minds to traditional, township life. It’s an opportunity unlike any other and one that you’re not likely to forget.
What To Do
As far as we can tell, South Africa’s Travel Pass is the ultimate Fair Trade Journey. Aside from the ease of travel and seriously enticing accommodation options, you’re also guaranteed that your entire trip not only minimises your carbon footprint, but actually benefits local communities, social development and the environment. But even the most responsible traveller is looking for more than that - we travel to experience the unknown, to dip our toes into deeper pools and take exciting (albeit sometimes terrifying) plunges. So here are the activities offered as part of your Travel Pass, for you to select at will. Remember this is your journey and half the fun of travelling is imagining what you might be doing.
- Shark Cage Diving
- Boat-Based Whale Watching
- Volunteering at Volunteer Africa 32° South:
- Cliff Jumping
- Taking part in community development projects
- Exploring Hole in the Wall and Mapuzi Caves
- Horse Riding
- Making Traditional Mudbricks
- Learning to cook traditional Xhosa food
- Venturing up the Sani Pass to the Kingdom of Lesotho
- Examining caves adorned with historical Bushman paintings
- Touring Soweto on a bicycle
- Exploring Jozi at ground level on a walking tour
- Enjoying a meal and drinks at a traditional township shebeen
How Fair Trade Helps
All of the accommodation providers and organisations included in the Travel Pass are Fair Trade accredited by Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa NPC (FTTSA). The accreditation process is stringent and somewhat costly, which ensures that the Fair Trade Tourism badge is only awarded to the most deserving establishments.
By supporting these establishments you are indirectly - and sometimes directly - involved in community development (volunteer projects and education opportunities), ethical business practices (supporting local economies), and environmental preservation. But in order for these projects to succeed, they need travellers to support it. So the question shouldn’t be whether it’s a good cause or not, it should be whether or not you have two or three weeks to step into another world - one where water and electricity are sometimes luxuries, children are educated in life more than in a classroom and where travellers are always greeted with a smile, not because locals’ livelihood depends on foreigners, but because they get to welcome us into their lives and share stories with someone from the other side of the world.
To book your Fair Trade Travel Pass experience or to find out more about it, contact email@example.com or check out www.fairtradetravelpass.com
By Caitlin MurphyBack to top
Embarking on a Fair Trade Journey in Asia is not as easy as Africa or South America. There aren’t many tours available, so the best way to enjoy Fair Trade in Asia is to plan it yourself. Residing in homestays, shopping at local markets and visiting community-driven tourism areas will not only help the community, but also reduce unfair tourism trade backed by bigger corporations. We’ll start with India, a country filled with colour, culture and sadly, far too much poverty and unfair trade.
The best Fair Trade Journeys in India involve homestays. You can stay with a local family who will cook traditional meals, offer a comfortable place to sleep, and provide opportunities to explore, as well as advise you on which markets to support. Often these markets are the real gems - you’ll find some of the most unusual and interesting items or products in traditional markets. While the best way to back Fair Trade in India is through homestays, the best homestays are in the Himalayas, right in the middle of one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Where To Stay
If you think that your Fair Trade journey will only help the local people, you’re wrong. Undoubtedly, the best experience will be lived by you. Of course, with a trip like this, you have to go with an open mind and a thirst for adventure. There's a choice of three Himalayan Homestays - Ladakh Homestay, Sikkim Homestay and Spiti Homestays. Himalayan Homestays are the best possible way to experience traditional life in a Himalayan Village. In one stay you’ll have the opportunity to be surrounded by unforgettable natural beauty while caring for and helping the environment. If you choose a Ladakh Homestay, you’ll have the unique experience of staying with the Ladakhi people in a remote village. While hiking through the rugged terrain and admiring the scenery, don’t be surprised if you come across the fascinating and endangered snow leopard; it is, after all, their natural habitat.
At your homestay you’ll get a comfortable room with basic amenities, lit by candles or solar light and with decor and furnishings in traditional Ladakhi style. You’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy Ladakhi meals that have been cooked using eco-friendly methods. If you’re thirsty, why not take a walk to the spring and get some water? (But don’t forget to boil it before drinking.) In accordance with the eco-friendly requirements of Fair Trade, everything is powered using solar heating or candles, from the heated showers to the dry-composting toilet.
What To Do
At your homestay, local nature guides will show you around the village and take you on somewhat unimaginable wildlife tours - with winter bringing the added advantage of going on a special snow leopard trek. If you choose to stay in Sikkim Homestay, you’ll be privy to the rich history and lifestyle of the Lepcha culture and explore the diversity of plants, wildlife and rough mountain scenery. See more than 400 species of orchids along with 300 species of birds in the forests around Khangchendzonga. Visit the Buddhist monastery, experience the Lapcha way of farming, go on village hikes and attend evening cultural shows. Most of the homestays in the Spiti Homestay fall within the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, home to snow leopards, the Tibetan wolf and blue sheep (named so because of their colouring). Guides can take you on the cultural trail where you will come across Buddhist temples, local shows and ancient temples dating back thousands of years. You can also track the Tibetan wolf and explore the trans-Himalayan desert.
How Fair Trade Helps
Fair Trade travel in India supports the local community, aiding them to preserve their natural, cultural diversity. But please bear in mind that there are certain codes of conduct to be adhered, such as refraining from taking pictures of Buddhist temples and respecting the community’s dress code, for you to fully enjoy the experience. After all, travelling is all about immersing yourself in a different culture and there certainly is no better way to do this than in India.
When it comes to Fair Trade, everything from the hotel bedding, slippers and robes to the fruit, flowers and wine are taken into consideration. A growing list of companies are pledging active involvement in Fair Trade, so it’s not hard to find products that are eco-friendly, have been made by people who get a reasonable wage, and are distributed fairly. Vietnam may have been a country ravished by inequality and the aftermath of a brutal war, but that’s no longer the case. Now one of the fastest growing countries in the world, Vietnam opens its beauty-enriched doors and welcomes tourists to dynamic, fast-paced cities brewing with ancient culture.
For £1,500, you'll experience a full Vietnamese Fair Trade Tour, well worth the money. It's a 19-day stay that takes you from the culturally rich capital Hanoi, to one of the Seven Wonders of Nature, Halong Bay, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City, and includes a variety of activities.
Where To Stay
The tour price includes all your food and accommodation (although it excludes flights) and organisers arrange for you to stay in lodgings that abide by the policies of FairTrade. In some cities you’ll stay in chalets, in others you’ll go a bit more rugged and camp, and you’ll have the opportunity to spend a few nights in a homestay. Homestays provide you with a clean, comfortable room, tasty local cuisine and a hospitable host family that will make your trip even more memorable (I think perhaps my bias for homestays is becoming apparent). You’ll also get to stay on a floating house in one of the villages and through conversations with the local fishermen, you can learn more about their daily life and the fishing practises in the village.
What To Do
There's no shortage of activities on this tour. Your journey starts in Hanoi where you will visit Craft Link, a supplier of Traidcraft who work with more than 40 artisan organisations and 5,000 artisans in Northern Vietnam. You can walk around the Craft Link showroom and purchase patterned wool textiles, silk purses, handbags, clothes, gifts, ceramic items and embroidery - all handmade by local artisans. A night train ride through the city gives you the chance to enjoy Lao Cai, a local village teeming with people who happily live a very basic, minimalist lifestyle. It’s the perfect place to experience typical Vietnamese cuisine and support the local community by purchasing their beautiful handicrafts.
A cruise to a small fishing village will give you the opportunity to explore the natural surroundings and hidden lagoons, as you navigate the river on a bamboo boat. Other exciting visits include a trip to the Forbidden City and a visit to the Hope Vocational Centre, which supports rural communities through crafts, education and farming. Cooking classes at a local restaurant might become your favourite experience in Vietnam - imagine serving up a traditional Vietnamese meal in your English kitchen! All the markets you visit are based on Fair Trade and ensure that the community benefits from the tourism. It’s a great way to get handmade, quality items at a reasonable price. Your trip ends with a visit to the floating market and a boat cruise to a bonsai garden.
How Fair Trade helps
Responsible Travel works with Traidcraft to develop sustainable trading and development projects, which aim to improve the lives of locals. By travelling with them you contribute to this aim as the entire journey supports local artists, craftsmen and workers. Also, because you work so closely with people who live there, you get greater insight into the different areas of Vietnam and its culture.
By Caelyn WoolwardBack to top
Speak to any current or would-be traveller and the first place off their lips would probably be Europe. Home to some of the most diverse and controversial countries, Europe is a premier and sought after travel destination. With the exchange rate, it is unfortunately also one of the more pricier options. You'd think that because Europe is slightly more financially independent (although this has changed over the last few years) than the other continents in our feature, there would be less Fair Trade journeys. Luckily for you, this is not the case. In fact, Europe is the home of Fair Trade! We've taken two countries out of the mix and looked at where Fair Trade can make the biggest difference.
While the East of Turkey is more Asian in culture, food and people, the West is more European, and this contrast makes for an interesting country both politically and culturally. Turkey has a number of Fair Trade Tours that not only contribute to the sustainable development of the community, but are also eco-friendly. To widen your travel options, we've included a little bit of everything; from traditional homestays to hotels and cultural tours.
Where To Stay
Stay in village accommodation on a farm or head to Yuvacali to try out the nomadic tents. Since you’ll be staying with a family, you'll get invaluable insight into their daily lives and have the chance to live a little of it yourself; milk the sheep, make bread from scratch, enjoy organic produce and sleep outside on handmade mattresses during the summer. The village accommodation takes up to 12 people and as is the local custom, the sleeping space is shared. Each delicious meal is made from fresh produce and is cooked using environmentally friendly methods. Once the cooking is done, you sit on the floor on cushions to enjoy your dinner in hospitable, Middle Eastern style.
You don’t have to stay in village accommodation to support the community. Many hotels incorporate Fair Trade and ensure that the products they use are traded fairly and are environmentally friendly, and that staff work decent hours with good wages. The Beach Hotel in Gumusluk, Bodrum epitomises this. The air-conditioned rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated, the hotel uses solar energy panels for power and the many comments from guests mention the spectacular views. Guests and staff are encouraged to recycle waste, to avoid using plastic bags, limit water usage and engage in organic gardening. Local producers are used for the main food supply and the surrounding markets and stores are all run by people in the community. Guests are encouraged to purchase products from the local market rather than a supermarket chain.
What To DoCultural Tours
There are so many Fair Trade tours available in Turkey that picking one will depend entirely on your own preferences. The tour I chose provides insight into Turkish culture, food and the lifestyle. The journey is jam-packed with activities like visits to the Blue Mosque and walking around the Grand Covered Bazaar where you will find over 4,000 local shops. In Pamukkale, the ruins in Bergama seem almost waiting to be explored. This is a memorable learning experience and your tour guide will be a local who speaks fluent English, so you'll be able to ask questions about the ancient cities that played host to extravagant architecture or about the historically scandalous leaders.
You'll also visit places like the Mevlana Museum and the Lycian Rock Tombs, as well as learn about Roman Theatre and explore Ihlara Canyon. Local tour guides have many ancient legends to share with travellers and swear that most of them - although far-fetched - are true. Of course, that’s for you to decide, who knows, all legends come from somewhere. Your tour ends with a visit to local wineries and shops - giving you the chance to buy a kilim (traditional woven carpet) from an authentic carpet seller.
How Fair Trade Helps
In the hotels and homestays only products with the Fairtrade mark are used. The homestays are run by low income families who have received training on how to cook, clean and welcome guests. The products used ensure that the people who made it (from coffee and tea, to your hotel gowns) have been treated fairly and work in clean, comfortable conditions. You support the local community simply by buying their products directly and cutting out a middle man. The artisans and craftsmen sell their products everywhere - the side of the road, the beaches and at various marketplaces. Because of your support these people are able to provide more financial and stable support for their families and grow their businesses. Even the environment is helped in homestays as cooking takes place over dung fires.
You don’t have to journey far to experience Fair Trade Travel. Although more developed than other countries participating in Fair Trade, the UK can still do a lot to ensure that workers are treated fairly and that we are not buying products made by children who are exploited in terrible working conditions. The Fair Trade Way is one of the most recognised UK Fair Trade initiatives. The Fair Trade Way is a long-distance heritage walk; a six-day trek connecting Fair Trade Towns between Garstang (known as the world’s first Fair Trade Town) and Keswick. This initiative creates awareness of a plight faced by between 1.5 and 2.5 billion people around the world who have little access to the most basic human needs. While walking the route, you’ll come across many Fair Trade stores, coffee shops and accommodation facilities.
Where To Stay
You’ll stay in more than one B&B and guest house on your trip (or you can camp), but Kendal Bed and Breakfast is one of the best. Typically described as an “old English guesthouse”, owners Stuart and Yvonne are welcoming and friendly. The rooms are simple and comfortable with that warmth you get when you walk into your mum's house. It's located close to the beautiful Nether Bridge and with the local market just a five minute walk away, Kendal is ideal for an overnight rest on your walk. They also serve coffee, tea and breakfast under the Fairtrade mark.
What To Do
You’ll be on a six-day heritage walk so you’ll certainly be doing and learning a lot. Starting at the fig tree in Garstang, you’ll pass the River Wyre and continue to numerous sites, such as Lancaster Canal, the Captured Africans Slave Trade Memorial and Scroggs Wood and more places that might simply take your breath away. Further along the walk Ullscarf has a stunning view - if it’s not misty. The walk ends at Moot Hall where you can enjoy Fair Trade snacks. But the journey won’t be all walking and learning, and no relaxing - there are many Fairtrade coffee shops along the way. Greggs Coffee Shop serves coffee, tea, hot chocolate and juices carrying the Fairtrade Mark, and Kendal sells food, alcoholic drinks and flowers - all Fairtrade approved. Along the way you’ll come across many markets that only carry Fairtrade products, so your souvenirs can all be genuine, handmade goods.
How Fair Trade Helps
Every day of the Fair Trade Way starts and ends in a Fairtrade town or village. This ensures that the walk is beneficial to people who need financial and business support the most. The walk also includes places of national, scenic and environmental importance. Main roads are avoided, allowing you to appreciate nature and the environment while ensuring that all trading and purchases are fair and just.
By Caelyn WoolwardBack to top