Maximising vacation time is always a high priority for the modern day traveller. By combining an exciting mix of popular tourist attractions, local experiences and creating a programme of sustainable change for local communities, Empowerment Tourism ticks all the boxes.
Although it may have similar sentiments as a volunteer abroad programme, Empowerment Tourism focuses much more on the impact of the community it works with than that of the traveller. For those who are time conscious and are unable to spend months at a time volunteering abroad, this provides the perfect opportunity to see first hand what your contribution has delivered, as well as knowing you have created job opportunities which will long outshine your visit.
Whether it is donating a food cart and teaching Cambodian locals how to sell their tasty snacks to tourists, or helping women set up a jewellery business that expands beyond their current reach, the skills from within your group can provide the most empowering and impactful results.
This is in addition to the more traditional aspects of a tour, seeing the iconic sights, savouring the local cuisine and learning about the history, and culture, of these exotic lands.
"Empowerment Tourism is about taking a community on a journey, showing them what is possible using the skills they have, those we can teach, and the opportunities we can provide," said Simla Sooboodoo, founder of Hands on Journeys and creator of the #EmpowermentTourism concept.
"At the end of that journey, they should be able to support themselves and continue to grow with a sense of pride that is harder to achieve when you are continually being provided external support.
"Travellers come away not only having seen the country's famous sights, but knowing first hand their funds, and time, have created new jobs, provided builders opportunities and left someone inspired on a new business venture.
"This is something that is often lacking with Voluntourism. Gathering a bunch of travellers to go and build a school or a house – let alone being something they have never done in their lives, but also doing it because that’s the project in place, is that always helping the locals?"
Coming from the small Island of Mauritius and suffering her own share of hardships, including a life-threatening brain aneurysm, Simla understands all too well the power of second chances.
It’s these second chances that Empowerment Tourism gives to others that made the concept so appealing to her. She stresses though, it’s not about charging in and trying to save someone. It’s about opening a dialogue, starting a conversation and listening.
"This is the key to any project's success, making sure it delivers truly what is needed by the local community, rather than what we perceive to be required."
Spread the word, #EmpowermentTourism is here to stay.
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