Last time we explored the first concept of responsible travel, which revolved around environmental concerns. This week we will be looking at the inclusive economic growth and our part in promoting it.
What is inclusive economic growth?
Economic growth as a term might sound big and point to larger issues in society. We see politicians stepping in with different working strategies on pension funds or distributing money from taxes into local investments. Perhaps we think of entrepreneurs trying to explain to the investors and banks how their start-up business idea will benefit the local economy.
But at the base of it, the concept of inclusive economic growth is fairly easy to understand. By definition, inclusive growth is economic growth that is distributed fairly across society and creates opportunities for all.
What does this mean for us?
This means that all members involved in the tourism or hospitality sector, receive fair wages, work under ethical conditions and have equal access to participation. Furthermore, that means that we should not take advantage of the local culture, its people and services they offer. We should not discriminate and belittle. We should not behave like we own the place, no matter who you are or where you come from.
It is entirely your decision where you book your accommodation, where you eat and what attractions you go to see. As you do all this, have in mind that a human being is interacting with you. They make your booking, prepare your meals, clean after you, all while doing their best to leave a good impression. In turn they hope you enjoy your time in their community and recommend them to your fellow digital nomads in various groups. Making sure that we do not take advantage of their work is our number one priority.
How do we do this?
Demonstrate your support for local and sustainable businesses by choosing to purchase goods and services from them. This may include restaurants, tour providers, vendors, accommodation etc. and especially when it comes to shopping. Choose that local food and drink, ingredients from farmer’s markets, handmade locally sourced products or souvenirs (like clothes, shoes and accessories).
Sometimes it is even possible to participate in the production process of your own souvenir. You end up helping the local business and having a more memorable and unique item.
Pay fair prices
Although negotiating is expected in some cultures, make sure that you are paying a fair price to locals for their goods and services. What may be a small amount of money for you could make a significant difference in their livelihood that week. Travelling on a budget is sometimes the way we do it, and that’s great for a number of reasons.
Still, we should make sure that we are not deliberately taking advantage of the local culture. Forget that free pass and don’t squeeze something out of the situation when we can afford it. This could include asking for discounts when the price is already reasonable. Some people even refuse to leave suitable tips in the culture that has established practice of tipping.
This especially applies when the cost of your meal is clearly value for money and the service was of high quality and very attentive. Or when you buy a foreign product of lower quality over a locally produced one, just because it’s cheaper.
Don’t contribute to housing displacement
One of the most unfortunate effects of a growing tourism market is housing displacement. Since foreigners often pay a higher price for rent, locals must move farther away from their work and school to receive affordable housing.
One of the best ways to promote inclusive economic growth is to rent from a local family, rather than a foreign investor. You can also look at renting in areas that are less densely packed just by looking where most rentals are.
Use your social media accounts to promote local businesses and products, if you are satisfied with the quality, service and price, let us know. In fact, let the world know, so that anyone visiting that community after you can follow in your footsteps. That’s how one avid traveler I know found out about a social enterprise tour guide in Tanzania – an Instagram post!
Our mission is to make the lives of digital nomads as enjoyable as possible whilst taking care of the environment and local communities.
I hope these suggestions have helped you to better understand the concept of inclusive economic growth and what you can do to support and promote it. If you have any questions about this and other concepts of responsible travel, feel free to reach out to us on Facebook and Instagram or contact me directly, and ask away ☺
Next week we will be looking at the last concept, my personal favorite – promoting social well being.
by Antonija Bosanac
Antonija was born and raised in Split, Croatia. Now a restless traveller gone digital nomad in 2019, she’s passionate about building communities, volunteer work, education and human & civil rights. Currently working as a coach in the field of interpersonal communication and self development, she’s promoting change through individual work with clients; as well as being en route to getting a degree in psychotherapy. For her current location, check her Instagram profile.