Many have suffered due to the pandemic around the world but I’d like to focus on one type of people around the globe who are taking a hit in a different way.
It’s a well known fact that many residents of many countries, cities, towns and small villages make a living from our vacations. We travel and spend and this in turn benefits local livelihoods and benefits a country’s economy.
However, with the closures of borders, non-essential shops having to pull their shutters down and many small businesses having to bring their company operations to a halt, now is the time more than ever that help is required.
Here’s how travel and tourism can help support locals abroad:
1. Leave The Fast-Food Chains & Dine At a Local Restaurant
This is the biggest thing I’ve realised having travelled around during this disastrous year of 2020. The big fast food chains are very well-off and it will not make a difference if you buy from them or not. Why not make a change this year and head over to the cosy and welcoming local restaurants where not only the food is better, but you’ll receive a far more welcoming experience than Burger King.
If you’re after a snack or hot or cold drink, avoid places like Starbucks or McDonalds and head to the local patisseries and cafes. Buy freshly squeezed juice from the local vendor instead. Buy street food! In some places around the world, street food is huge. Street food is quickly becoming a worldwide phenomena as its cheaper and a lot more tastier and fresh than some restaurants. Plus, with COVID restrictions being put in place for dining in restaurants, street food may just be an easier option.
2. Support Local Businesses
Aside from eating, there are many other things that you’ll probably spend money on when travelling. Clothes, shoes, books, and jewellery are just some examples. Local vendors at times tend to have better quality stuff and buying through them will be a more meaningful experience. You’ll have a one to one experience and will definitely be helping in keeping these small businesses going. Also, there are some real bargains out there if you go and venture into one of the market places next time you’re on a trip. I’m sure you can leave shopping in the big stores till you return home.
3. Promote Local Tourism
Tell others about your experience when you return home. The more people that know about supporting local businesses abroad, the more they will get involved. People are dying to know how to help when they go abroad but get lost in how to do that. It’s such a simple theory which just needs putting into practice. Unfortunately many people still believe that the only way to help is to give to beggars. Sadly, that is one of the worst ways to help locals when travelling abroad. This article here explains a great deal about the problems with giving to begging children in specific. Don’t get me wrong, its not that you should not give to people who you’re heart goes out to, it’s just that you should do it consciously and sparingly. There are indeed far better ways of giving to help people.
4. Buy Souvenirs From The Locals
Avoid buying your souvenirs from duty free shops or any shop at the airport. Buy the quality stuff from local souvenir shops instead. The service is better, the quality will be better, the price is always more affordable and sometimes you may get to see how certain souvenirs are even made. I had the opportunity to see how certain coffee making utensils were made when in Turkey and that itself caught my attention right away. Plus, some local souvenir shops only have this as their source of livelihood so wouldn’t it be great to help out?
5. Hire Local Guides
This is by far the best decision I’ve made. In some countries around the world, I’ve hired local guides which meant I got access to inside knowledge and access to hidden gems around the destination. Hiring a guide that lives in the country you’ll be visiting allows you to learn so much more than someone who takes you from your country. Local guides know local people and they also know shortcuts. They also are a lot cheaper than hiring guides from a travel agency or online sometimes. Instagram and TripAdvisor have helped me source good travel guides in various places I’ve travelled to. Put out a question on Instagram or TripAdvisor (in the right forum!) and you’ll definitely get contact details for a reliable travel guide. Plus, as mentioned before, by sourcing a local guide, you’d not only be helping them out, but their entirely family as well, as many guides do this for a living.
6. Rent A Car Locally
Yes, I know that it’s a lot easier to simply use online car booking sites and go with big companies such as Budget, Enterprise and Sixt. You can also book with a local company online as many have started putting their services online to book now. However, if you’re feeling up to it, you can either research local car companies before you travel, or get to your destination and search for a company. When we recently went to Turkey, we booked with Cizgi Car Rental which is a Turkey based car rental company. We had a very good experience with them and the car we received was brilliant. I booked them via rentalcars.com and it only worked out around £15 a day with full insurance! But, when we were driving around in Turkey, we noticed many local car rental businesses. Next time, we may just get public transport to our hotel and hire a car locally.
Many of our favourite destinations could end up suffering badly if we do not support them in some way or another. Some of my favourite destinations such as Turkey and the Balkans depend a lot on tourism and it is only through us using their services that they can keep their businesses going. If they die out, then its possible that these places will lose visitors which means losing access to these thriving places. So remember, next time you’re travelling abroad, give those local businesses a second thought.
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