the guardian Fri 03 July 2009
In 2007, there were some 900 million international tourist trips. By 2020, that figure will have nearly doubled to 1.6 billion. Tourism is an $8 trillion industry employing 1 in 10 of the world's workers. As Polly Pattullo says in the introduction to The Ethical Travel Guide, across the world "hordes of hedonists" have overrun local traditions and communities in their quest for idyllic beaches and perpetual sunshine. Ethical or community-based tourism is about "treading lightly on people's homes and cultures" and sharing the proceeds fairly. Shockingly, as little as a fifth of the cost of a holiday reaches the local economy. The new edition of this excellent guide (produced under the auspices of Tourism Concern) has listings for more than 70 countries, from hotels to tour companies, all local initiatives run on sustainable principles that will help you organise any holiday from canoeing in the Amazon or trekking in Ethiopia to volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park, Thailand. Tourism doesn't have to be a dirty word. It might even change your life.