Fair Trade Tourism

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Fair trade in tourism is a key aspect of Sustainable Tourism, for it ensures that the economic benefits of tourism go to those whose land, natural resources, labor, knowledge and culture are used for tourism activities.

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Fair trade tourism can be considered to be -
  • A public/private and civil society partnership, integrated to bring about development in the tourism destination.
  • A corporate ethical code of conduct and/or trade partnership agreement.
  • A fair trade product, monitored and certified.

Fair Trade in Tourism lays emphasis in host destinations on groups which:

  • were earlier not involved in the decision-making process on tourism
  • includes people or communities which were discriminated against in existing or future tourism development plans
  • are involved in emerging tourism-linked initiatives
  • need organizational and technical support in order to successfully engage in national/international markets
  • are employed in tourism in the formal and/or informal sector


Poverty Alleviation With Fair Trade Tourism

Fair trade tourism can help improve the living standards and economic strength in the world’s least developed countries. With their indigenous culture, pristine nature and warm climate, these countries are often considered many of the eco-conscious tourist’s most valued resources.

Fair trade tourism is also a form of community-based tourism which aims to foster sustainable tourism development and income distribution in rural communities which produce fair trade craft products that are exported worldwide.

Prominent Examples

One of the prominent examples is Fairtrade tours can be found in South Africa. An organization called Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa(FTTSA) has awarded the trademark to 30 travel companies in the country. Apart from common features found in any tour operations in South Africa, such as an eco safari tour at the Kruger National Park, or humpback whale watching off Plettenberg Bay, these Fairtrade tours guarantee that tour staff receive decent wages and work under good working conditions. It is also a means to give local people a fairer share of benefits generated by the tourism industry.

Part of the itinerary of Traidcraft which offers tours to Cuba, India, Thailand and Peru, with a plan to extend the trips to Vietnam, Ghana, Costa Rica and Nicaragua by 2009, is to visit local communities in each country that produce for Traidcraft Fairtrade products ranging from Fairtrade juice, to Fairtrade tea, coffee, and chocolate.

Another tour organizes a visit to Finca Esperance Verde Ecolodge – an organic coffee farm in Nicaragua run by local residents. Their aim is to assist local coffee farm owners to earn an alternative income to the highly volatile crop – coffee. Sharing the same community-development mission as that of the Fairtrade concept, the project at Finca Esperance Verde allocates 10% of the lodge’s income to invest in rural water projects and local schools.

Tour Orientation

Globally a number of tour programs are designed to create meaningful interaction between travelers and the communities they visit. There are also workshops where tourists are thoroughly briefed on the trades and cultures of local hosts. Such orientations provide a new perspective on the importance of fair trade in enabling marginalized producers and workers in developing countries to build a sustainable future for themselves, their families and their communities.

Tourists can help such communities by supporting locally owned businesses and visiting local markets. Purchase of fair trade products also goes a long way in helping these communities.

How To Be a Fair Trade Tourist

  • Get to know as much as possible about the country you are visiting. Get to know its history, geography, economic and political situation before visiting it
  • Think of ways to spend the money so that it goes to the local people and economy and not to the multinationals
  • Be open to the local culture and try to pick up the customs and beliefs of the local people. Accept that they are different from you in terms of the way they behave, dress or talk.
  • Take care not to create waste. Carry with you biodegradable products and conserve resources as much as possible.

Did You Know?

  • African tourism revenues are far bigger than aid budgets. In 2002 International Tourism receipts in Africa were $11.8bn (WTO). In comparison, the US aid budget to Africa is just $674m.
  • Tourism is labour intensive (only agriculture among major industries is more labour intensive) and therefore a very significant employer. Responsible travel ventures often employ the economically marginalized, including women.
  • Unlike other economic sectors tourism can be built from the assets of local people, such as their traditions, festivals, land and natural and built heritage. This, and the fact that tourists are often attracted to remote places, means that fair trade tourism can potentially benefit the truly poor.
  • Unlike many other economic sectors tourism is not subject to crippling export trade tariffs designed to protect Western economies. This is because the consumer (tourist) travels to the product (the tourist destination).


  • An Introduction to Fair Trade
  • Ethical travel with fair-trade tourism
  • Fair Trade in Tourism Network
  • Fair Trade in Travel

See also