Candies and kids always work perfectly in the same sentence.
What’s the best way to reward them? Candies.
To make them silent? Candies.
To make them happy? Well, maybe this time the answer could be different.
Ecotourism Constantly Growing
Tourism in Asia in the past years has not only increased, it’s started to change its face. New routes have opened to satisfy the always-growing demand for new, authentic local experiences. Remote places have now become a must-do among travelers.
‘That’s a great thing’, you probably think. ‘It absolutely is’ I say.
Meeting new culture, and the real and genuine experience you can get from it, is what makes travelling so amazing
Besides this a new mindset has started to emerge, the so-called ‘responsible travel’. Travelers’ aim nowadays is to preserve the nature, the culture and the authenticity of the place. Shopping locally, minimizing the waste and the interaction with the wildlife, respecting local culture, choosing eco-friendly accommodations are only a few actions we can do to have a positive impact on the local communities.
Despite this new trend and the numerous ‘tips’ given by other responsible travelers, some people seem just not to get it at all.
Weren’t we talking about candies and kids? Yes, we were. And let me get straight to the point.
Don’t give candies to local kids when you’re travelling!
Fair enough, no?
Cliche’? Yeah maybe, but giving candies to people in local, and often isolated, communities where the dental hygiene is poor or doesn’t exist at all isn’t a wise and responsible decision. It may be a genuine gesture of goodwill, and it probably is, but you know how a little trouble can become a huge problem in places where the education level is extremely low.
Kids and School don’t go well together
I know, it may sound stupid, but trust me this is a real problem. How many times you skipped school with worse excuses?
Kids are clever, as you all probably know. They know exactly when and where tourists (with pockets full of candies) will arrive. And it’s usually far from school.
They gather around them, they interact, take picture, talk, eat candies and simply forget to go back to school. As much as it sounds funny to your ears (and honestly to mine a little too) it’s a serious problem that volunteers and teachers face on a daily base. Organizations and schools have already expressed their disappointment towards certain groups of tourists that ‘unwarily’ undermine what these organizations try to build in the communities. Less candies more school!
Do you ever think about who comes after?
Do you really? Ok, but hear me out on this one.
Another valid reason not to give candies to local kids it is indeed one of the main discussion points of responsible travelers. Giving out sweets (and it’s even more for money) spoils and damages the habitat other tourists after you will see. Kids will think that everybody is willing to give them sweets so they will, fairly, demand for them. Similar to giving tips, giving candies can seriously harm the environment in the local communities, in particular for those who will come after and will have to face an uncomfortable situation they have nothing to do with.
What to bring then?
If you really want to feel special and do some goods to these communities bring in your bags some stationery or some toys. You will see what a big smile these kids have. Doing this you will actively and positively contribute to protect and preserve these villages as well as help the organizations to build education in rural areas. In many already have expressed their opinions on the topic but still many are genuinely unaware of the harm they may cause. Organizations and even hotels are informing tourists on how to behave. They also offer themselves to collect what you may want to give these communities and do it for you.
Let’s don’t forget where we are, let’s don’t forget that what may look like a small trouble for us could be a huge problem in these areas. It doesn’t take too much to be a little responsible and it takes even less to do something in favor of these local people. Please be responsible and enjoy your experience.
Read other stories like this at Sens Asia blog