ACCORDING TO PARAGRAPH 2, WHAT IS THE MAIN ATTRACTION OF TRIBAL TOURISM?

Travelling is all about opening your eyes khổng lồ new places, people & ways of life. But unfortunately, sometimes we’re so eager for an exciting experience that we can’t see the effects of our choices, and it’s all too easy to lớn stop thinking about them once you’re baông xã home.

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While tourists are increasingly aware of the need khổng lồ consider the environment when they travel, và lớn be aware of animal rights violations, fewer are informed about their impact on indigenous people. Here, we explain a little about what tribal tourism is, & why you need khổng lồ take great care if you’re considering it.


What exactly is tribal tourism?

Tribal tourism is visiting a place in order khổng lồ see or meet the indigenous people who live sầu there. “Ethno-tourism” & “ethnic tourism” are sometimes used khổng lồ describe the same thing. As the name implies, this isn’t the same thing as an expedition for anthropological retìm kiếm, but a trip for recreational purposes.

Why are people interested in this kind of tourism?

For some people, it’s an educational opportunity – travel is a way of learning more about the world and yourself, and meeting new people can be a part of that. Others feel that, in our globalised age, they’ll have a more memorable, authentic experience of a place if they see its indigenous cultures.

And for others still, it’s simply a voyeuristic exercise: they want to lớn see people whose appearance & way of life look very different to lớn their own.



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What positive sầu effects can it have?

Tribal tourism can have a lot of positive sầu effects. Done sensitively, it can help people learn about and appreciate different ways of life. For indigenous communities, it can facilitate cultural exchange và celebration. And for those that are struggling khổng lồ maintain their livelihoods & traditions, it’s also a way of educating others about their situation, earning some money và playing an active sầu part in the maintenance of their culture.

And what about the negative aspects?

Tribal tourism can cause immense damage – & sadly, more often than not, this is the case. There are profound economic, environmental và cultural effects of this kind of tourism, with each usually worsening the other.

These issues are complex, và you should make sure you know what’s going on before participating in any sort of tribal tourism. The Muryêu thích tribe in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley are one example. Following forced resettlements và depletion of the resources on which they depend, they have been forced lớn use tourism lớn help make ends meet.

Vehicles full of tourists will arrive sầu in Mursiland, then briefly stop to take photos before heading baông chồng. There’s no meaningful exchange, và most Murmê mệt vị it grudgingly. Aware that these visitors don’t want khổng lồ emulate their way of life, khổng lồ learn about them or to get to know them – they just want an exotic souvenir – this makes many of the Murđắm say feel frustrated and exploited.

The irony is that many of the Mursi’s adornments aren’t part of how they usually dress or decorate themselves, but have been added to better fit the images tourists have sầu come khổng lồ expect. It’s hardly an enriching experience for either side.

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But what about when it’s a true wilderness experience, not on the tourist trail?

You may come across tour operators promising to lớn show you uncontacted or little-contacted tribes, but this doesn’t mean you’re having a pure, untarnished encounter. In fact, these cases are usually even more damaging; in the worst-case scenario, you could bring diseases which can devastate entire communities. Even if you don’t, you may be diluting their culture, infringing on their l& rights và putting yourself in a very dangerous situation.

Often these experiences turn inkhổng lồ unsavoury “human safaris”, as with the Jarawa in the Andaman Islands, India. The Andaman Trunk Road cuts through their territory, & despite committing to lớn closing it, the Indian government has not yet acted. The road has opened up the Jarawa reserve khổng lồ poachers & settlers, but also to lớn tourists.

As well as concrete threats khổng lồ their livelihood và even lives – there have been reports of Jarawa people being attacked & abused, as well as outbreaks of disease brought by outsiders – visitors sometimes treat the Jarawa lượt thích animals rather than humans. Tourists are promised a look at the Jarawa, và some especially unscrupulous tour guides & even policemen have sầu taken bribes for ordering Jarawa to dance for tourists. Unfortunately, this is far from an isolated case.

But what if I want to lớn help these people? I could bring food, clothes or money.

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This is a dangerous idea. It can be extremely patronising to lớn assume anyone needs your help. But if tribal peoples do need supplies, you’re probably better off working with or donating to an aid organization – getting an irregular supply of randomly chosen items does no long-term good to lớn these communities.

You need to lớn ask yourself if you actually want to be as effective sầu as possible, or if this is an exercise in making yourself feel magnanimous.

So is it possible to visit tribal peoples ethically?

There are ways to lớn have a memorable, enriching interaction with indigenous groups, but you can’t expect lớn just show up, shove a camera in their faces và drive sầu away again.

Instead, look for depth in your travels, try to stay a little longer và actually meet people. If you take a more holistic approach, meeting indigenous people as part of a broader trip, you’re also likely khổng lồ have sầu a much better time. This would probably be called community-based tourism rather than tribal tourism, and is growing in popularity.

If you’re not sure about including a visit khổng lồ meet tribal people to lớn your trip, you can start by asking yourself a few questions:

What vì I want to lớn get out of this – khổng lồ just see people, or khổng lồ meet them? To take something from them, or lớn chia sẻ something with them?

What kind of language is the tour operator using? Look out for words like “stone age” or “primitive” & steer clear of those using such terms.

Who has the power in this exchange? And how bởi vì I know that? Who will my money go to?

Have I done my research about these particular people in this particular area, and bởi vì I know this visit is safe và enjoyable for both them và me?



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Do be careful not lớn conflate different issues, too. For instance, just because somewhere sells itself as an ecolodge or green destination, doesn’t mean they’ve sầu taken indigenous lvà rights & welfare inlớn account. The Rainforest Alliance explains the difference between green tourism, eco-tourism and sustainable tourism, và many of the same concerns apply when considering the tribal or community tourism.

Are there any good examples I can consider?

More & more places are starting to lớn cater khổng lồ ethical tourists, which is great – but you vì chưng need lớn make sure they practice what they preach. A few well-regulated examples are:

Aboriginal Australia, Australia: Aboriginal-owned and -run tours throughout the country. Definitely no walks over Uluru here.

Local Alượt thích, Thailand: Offers community-based tourism in hill-tribe villages of Chiang Rai province.

Il Ngwesi Lodge, Kenya: Ecolodge & rhino sanctuary in northern Kenya, run by the Maakhông nên who own and manage the land.

Kapawi Lodge, Ecuador: Ecolodge and reserve sầu in the Amazon rainforest, near the border with Peru, run by the Achuar people.

Cofán Survival Fund, Ecuador: Ecotours and nature expeditions in the Amazon, owned and run by the Cofán.

Guna Yala archipelago, Panama: The Guna people have sầu kept control over their lands, deciding tourist numbers & owning and running many of the tourist businesses on the islands.


Where can I find out more?

As people seek out new travel experiences, it seems likely that this kind of tourism will continue to lớn grow in popularity. Thankfully, there are several groups campaigning with & on behalf of indigenous peoples, helping them amplify their voices in a crowded tourism market & protect their rights & dignity. At the forefront are Survival International, who spearhead campaigns such as the Andaman Trunk boycott, & Tourism Concern, who work lớn encourage responsible tourism in all areas.

Tourism Concern have a growing database of reliable, ethical businesses in their Ethical Travel Guide. The Rainforest Alliance’s Green Vacations list is another good source of recommendations for sustainable accommodation & tour operators in South America and Central America and the Caribbean.