Sustainable tourism & local NGOs in China: Two ways to travel responsibly

Travel | by Sascha Matuszak
Posted: August 26th, 2010 | Updated: August 26th, 2010 | Comments
There are a few options available for the conscious, responsible tourist and traveler who would like to not only enrich his own life through wandering, but also enrich those he bumps into along the way. All travelers, be they backpackers or members of a group, have at some time or another experienced the mixed emotions that accompany a trip into pristine areas and meeting the people there who would like nothing more than a little extra cash. How to do so without corrupting? Even the very idea that development corrupts is hypocritical and condescending at best, given that travelers invariably stem from developed (therefore corrupt?) areas themselves. Moral conundrums aside, there are a few things you can do to relieve your conscious and give back to the people and places that give so much to you. In a guest post for, Alex Hirsch of Overland China helps define sustainable tourism's impact globally and increasingly here in China as well:
"In recent years a global trend has emerged based on the principles of sustainability. Driven by concepts such as climate change and globalization, it has become increasingly important for countries and organizations to rethink the way that their actions affect the environments and cultures in which they operate. It can be argued that no industry has the ability to influence the economy, environment and culture of an area the way that tourism does, and consequently sustainable tourism development has had a wide influence on many regions all over the world."
Alex also includes a small list of local and international organizations that make it their mission to help make tourism's impact a positive one, and we add our own small list below... Sustainable Tourism in China Article on Homogenization of Tourist Sites in China World Bank Article on Sustainable Tourism Project Greenovate An article we wrote back in 09 about eco-tourism in China Alternatively, travelers can follow up by getting involved with NGOs back home or abroad that keep the sustainable development ball rolling long after the tourist season has ended: we covered recently.
"While the money we initially raise goes to local aid groups, we often are raising funds for disasters long after the disaster strikes," said Birger Stamperdahl, director of marketing and partnerships for Give2Asia. "Local groups are especially good at knowing what services and programs are needed by communities to help with the recovery; that is what the bulk of our disaster funding goes toward."
Give2Asia has raised more than USD100 million since 2001 for projects in China, with about 35% of that money in the form of scholarships -- focused primarily on Shanghai Jiaotong University students in need of aid. For some really good information concerning NGOs in China, check out the links below: China Law and Business -- NGO Page Wikipedia List of NGOs in China Asian American Philanthropy Site Article on Sichuan Earthquake Reconstruction China Development Brief NGO List Article on Challenges for NGOs in China NGO China Blog People's Daily NGO Article
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