As tourists, we are lucky to see and share experiences with people whose cultures, beliefs and world views differ from our own. New cultural experiences, including dress, food and festivities, are an essential ingredient of fulfilling travel for many of us. However, all too often, those very cultures that help to make our holidays so special are being violated and exploited. A basic lack of cultural awareness about the places we go on holiday can lead us to cause inadvertent offence to local people. Topless sunbathing on beaches and scant clothing when visiting religious sites are examples of such violations of cultural norms. In other instances, tribal villages become showcases for visiting tourists, with little benefits shared with the communities themselves. Cultural dances and artefacts become little more than commodities for tourists, often bought very cheaply and sold by middlemen and even mass produced in factories overseas. All of this can lead to feelings of frustration and resentment amongst local people towards tourists, undermining the positive experience that should come with equitable cultural exchange. Some areas where cultural conflicts occur: Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Bali, China, Cambodia, Egypt, Honduras, Jordan, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Namibia, Peru, Senegal, India, Tibet, South Africa, Thailand, Zanzibar.]]>
Jeremy Smith is the editor and co-founder of Travindy. He is a writer and communications consultant working for a more responsible and sustainable tourism industry. He is the author of two books, writes a fortnightly blog on responsible tourism for World Travel Market, and provides consultancy to a wide range of companies and organisations, ranging from National Parks to individual hotels and tour operators.