A new concept in travel, Empowerment Tourism
We have seen sustainable, eco and responsible tourism all become buzz words, but Simla Sooboodoo, founder of small group tour operator Hands on Journeys, aims to take that further with her new concept, Empowerment Tourism.
The opportunity for travellers and tourists to take in the most famous attractions in a country whilst combining their visit with supporting a greater good is fast becoming a popular style of travel.
Empowerment Tourism is about taking a community on a journey, showing them what is possible using the skills they already have, those that can be taught, and the opportunities which travellers can provide. 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 knowing first hand their funds, and time, have created new jobs, provided builders to construct toilets or wells and left someone inspired on a new business venture.
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, by giving your skills and time freely whilst travelling, you can create the most empowering and impactful results.
Whilst Cambodia might be famed for the historic temple complex of Angkor and a sunrise photo is a necessity of any visit, it is also a country haunted by a tragic past.
Learning first hand about the Pol Pot regime from tour leaders who have lived through it, as well as visiting the S21 prison and killing fields allows travellers a greater insight into the past of this charming land.
The chance to support local communities here, whether by staying in a homestay and understanding the country from the inside out, or by seeing the impact of sanitised toilets, new homes and water filter that a traveller has made possible is one of the most rewarding ways to explore this country.
Crossing a countries border by boat is always exciting, and when travelling from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc you get the chance to see the waterways of these two breathtaking countries meeting. Chau Doc itself is a beautiful mix of green rice fields, small markets and the Mekong river, where many residents live on floating houses and creating job opportunities as well as supporting repairs to keep homes above water is both beautiful and rewarding.
Ho Chi Minh, formally known as Saigon, is a vast contrast. These buzzy streets are teeming with scooters, stall traders and street food so good you will be back for seconds. It is here you can learn about the past of the country from the war museum or by visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels and seeing first hand what life underground at war was like.
Further north, the UNESCO old town of Hoi An provides a colourful backdrop for wandering between small alleys and mouthwatering cafes. At night, lanterns of all shades light up as candles float down the river to create one of the most visually stunning moments this country has to offer. It is here you can provide support to specialist hospitals who help those affected by the remains of Agent Orange and similar chemical warfare.
India is perhaps the most challenging, yet rewarding destination you can explore – and we take you right to the heart of it.
The Golden Triangle, consisting of Jaipur, Delhi and Agra is one of the most popular options to tour in this country. From the famous Taj Mahal to the the grand Mosques and gardens of Delhi, it is here you can take in some of the most magnificent sites in the country. Jaipur, the pink city, serves up impressive Forts alongside intricate palaces. Each city has such a unique vibe, two weeks here will take you on a visual and emotional journey like no other.
With so many people living below the poverty line and in Slums throughout India, here we focus on empowerment and education. With various school partners to support through supplies and assistant teaching as well as women empowerment projects which create real revenue driving work opportunities, the reward of giving your time here will never be forgotten.
The world is smaller than ever and as more people learn about different cultures, laws and politics from the media the landscape of travel has shifted. Many travellers don’t want to just see the sights now but truly experience them. There has been a shift away from exploring to education, and with this the desire for so many to have a positive impact on the world.
Spread the word, #EmpowermentTourism is here to stay!