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Human zoos, exploitation and dubious ‘traditions’ that actually inhibit real cultural exchange – the relationship between tourists and indigenous people is complex and frequently disappointing for both, with often only tour operators benefiting.

However tourism can bring in much needed revenue to indigenous communities – who are often socially, politically and economically marginalised from mainstream society - indigenous tourism can also be very positive, a form of revitalisation for their culture and a force of empowerment for the people.

Unfortunately there are many instances where villages become mere showcases for tourists, and elements of their culture reduced to commodities, offering little engagement and few benefits to the community. This can lead to feelings of frustration and resentment amongst local people towards tourists, undermining the positive experience that should come with equitable cultural exchange.

Tourism Concern has worked to raise awareness of these issues with tourists and tour operators for a number of years. However it is clear that if the interaction between tourists an indigenous people is to be positive, then a strong code of conduct for tour operator’s engaging with indigenous people is needed.

We’ve done this sort of work before - and had real success. We worked with tour operators and mountain trekking porters to create a code of practice which made sure porters were better protected and their rights upheld - and they have. We have also developed a Code of Conduct for house boats in Alleppey, which is being trialled right now.

Your valued support means so much to us. We’re a tiny charity trying to do big things. And we can’t do them without you. Any gift you can afford to give will allow us to help develop a code which will protect indigenous communities from the more destructive elements of tourism.

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