We're thrilled to have Kelly Campbell, of The Village Experience co-leading our Celebrate Uganda 2013 Trip. Check out the values that guide the partnerships they form on the ground! All of the hotels and ground operators selected for the Celebrate Uganda 2013 Trip are locally owned and in alignment with The Village Experience's take on Socially Responsible Tourism.
Socially Responsible Tourism – by The Village Experience
The Village Experience is a socially pro-active business dedicated to uplifting impoverished communities in the developing world through efforts in international trade and tourism. We support fair trade, create a market for it, and work one-on-one with artisan groups to improve their standard of living. We believe whole-heartedly in traveling the world and giving back at the same time…something we like to call “moving forward by giving back…”
The Village Experience adheres to a strict policy of promoting Socially Responsible Tourism. This can mean different things to different people, but here’s what it means to us:
1. Locally owned and operated hotels with a commitment to the community. This can be hard to find, but scouts at the Village Experience are always on the lookout for unique places that are run by locals, create jobs, carry fair trade items in their gift shops, and are open to the idea of connecting more holistically into their communities.
2. Fair wages paid to all guides and drivers. Tourism is a respected profession throughout the developing world and most guides are highly educated, but rarely paid what they deserve. All Village Experience trips pay fair wages and ensure that those who run our trips are making a good living to provide for themselves and their families.
3. Exposure to fair trade and artisan cooperatives. Everyone who travels wants to bring home souvenirs to remember their wonderful experience. We educate our travelers on the principles of fair trade and the importance of buying from local artisan groups that are paid fair living wages for their work. Visits to fair trade groups are always included in Village Experience itineraries so that passengers have the opportunity to support an empower these skilled artisans.
4. Commitment to the community. For every passenger that travels with The Village Experience, a donation is granted to our non-profit, The Village Cooperative, to help implement income-generating projects around the world. We work with our partner organizations to develop small businesses that will employ and create income to help meet the basic necessities of life. We have launched tailoring businesses, motorbike taxi companies, organic farms, and chicken coops to name a few.
5. Service to others. The Village Experience believes in creating relationships with all of the communities we partner with and in setting aside time to work alongside these communities. Our passengers partake in unique and necessary volunteer experiences in an effort to bond with our partners and give back on their trip. We often find ourselves at a loss for words after a day of intense friendship and hard work!
6. Partnering with ground operators who share our same vision. In a world of luxury, high-end travel, The Village Experience seeks out locally owned ground operators that believe in the way we travel and help us to reach our goals. We become family and work together on improving those communities most in need. We specifically seek out those companies that are woman owned or employ a good deal of women to help improve the gender inequalities we see in so many places around the world.
7. Embracing the local culture. The Village Experience doesn’t want our passengers to simply be “tourists”…we want you to experience the real people and culture of the country you are visiting. This includes meals with local families, spending time in our partner villages, walking through local markets, meeting business owners, exploring religion and art, and connecting to people as individuals. We want you to never forget the people and places you encounter on a Village Experience trip.
8. Contribute to the local economy. We believe that the best way to help the countries we visit is to invest in them. We can do this by purchasing the items we need to operate our trips or run our projects in the country of origin. Whether it be printing brochures and itineraries at a local print shop, sourcing T-shirts from our women’s groups, distributing local food and medicines to the community, or developing our film on site, we try our hardest to support local business and boost the local economy.
The Village Experience has worked hard to create a program that gives back in a number of ways. We want everyone involved with us to feel good about traveling with us and connecting to the local culture. We have some really exciting trips on the horizon and hope that you will consider joining us in our mission of “moving forward by giving back…”