Is it ok to visit indigenous communities?
If I want to be a sustainable traveller, is it helpful or harmful to visit indigenous communities?
Yea I am also a bit conflicted sometimes! I once went on a lovely trek + homestay in Sapa, Vietnam, and was "ambushed" by many indigenous elderly folks offering help to guide me through the terrain with the agenda of selling me their souvenirs... So it didn't feel quite right and I wasn't sure if the guide whom we paid had any arrangement with these elderly folks, whether it could've been better arranged so that the elderly folks could earn through the guide's fees rather than having to hard sell us souvenirs. The place was absolutely lovely though. It just felt like the guide was the only one benefitting from our trip.
Lin Yanqin last edited by
I also think it's ok if we didn't make the best call and end up something that didn't sit right with us, it helps us learn for future trips! I wasn't thrilled with a tour I did once in Vietnam, but I also felt that the harm done was minimal and at least someone earned income from my trip. And once my guide realised I was really interested in her life and history of her community, she went beyond her spiel and became more candid and personal. There's always a way to improve a less-than-ideal situation!
personally i think it's ok, i've visited minority communities in China and tourism has become their key source of income. without that income, they'll be working in cities or factories and the culture will be lost. But instead of participating in put up shows for tourists, i recommend seeking out experiences where you get to interact with the locals and learn about their culture from them. I usually seek out a friendly elderly to ask questions and they're always happy to share some nuggets of information.