Fair Trade Tribal Tourism
Go Native America's policy on Fair Trade Tribal Tourism is simple:
Tribal Tourism should be fair to everybody!
We work on these principles and guidelines.
Tour guides receive fair pay, visitors pay a fair market price.
Tour guides get a fair say in decisions that concern them.
Tour guides and visitors should have respect for human rights, culture and environment, including
Safe working conditions and practices
Protection of cultural and intellectual property and tolerance of socio-cultural norms
Reducing consumption of water and energy, as well as reducing, reusing and recycling waste to reduce negative impacts of tourism
Conservation of biodiversity and natural resources
The services delivered to visitors must be reliable and in accordance with local etiquette.
Adaptation of local and indigenous culture for tourism purposes should not happen.
Sacred sites and traditional ceremonies should be recognized and protected from tourism development.
Over the last decade, serious travelers have embraced the idea that tourism is a lifeline for indigenous cultures.
People now understand that their participation in sustainable, ethical and green travel makes this world a better place for indigenous peoples and tourists alike.
We have witnessed a burgeoning awareness within the travel industry that tourism has responsibilities, and while buzzwords and green-washing will never be fully eradicated, it is heart-warming to receive probing inquiries from prospective tour members who clearly want to circumnavigate disingenuous vendors and experience real cultural exchange.
Go Native America tour members do not have to worry about the ethics and policies of their tour. We have long experience of doing the right thing and had already been operating on a fair trade basis for many years before the current crop of watchdog organisations started up. In fact, we have even advised some of them as to the unique issues of Native American Tribal Tourism.
So is there one organization that regulates Fair Trade tourism across the world?
Initially it seems unfortunate that there is not, although there are various organisations that sell memberships and 'certifications' intended to reassure visitors. Yet perhaps for Native American tourism it’s a good thing there is not... because we hold a unique position in this corner of the earth.
Well in Native America, many tribes across the US exist below the radar in conditions of extreme poverty and that means we have Third World nations geographically positioned in First World economic environments.
Tribal Tourism is in some quarters of the world, relatively cheap (think Africa, India, et al, and visitors can support cultural tourism without too much strain on their wallet.
But in the US, tribal tourism costs more because we have all the same costs as mainstream tourism - hotels, vehicles, gas, and the vast majority of our tour members expect a high level of comfort and service - after all, this is America!
Think about it:
A fair day’s pay on the African continent amounts to a fraction of a fair day’s pay on the North American continent
(Important Note: Go Native America does not consider minimum wage to be 'fair' given the level of knowledge our guides share!)
Many tribes do not have the infrastructure to support their own people comfortably, let alone the tourist market. Public transport is not widely available to tribal members, hotels are non-essential to local populations, and for the purpose of tours this means accommodations and transport may need to be arranged in surrounding non-native communities where costs are the same as in all tourism sectors.
Marketing the message of tribal tourism takes time and money. Ad sales departments don't give discounts on the basis of tribal affiliation or affinity.
Also consider that some tourism organisations carefully funnel visitors away from real tribal experiences into native-styled, non-native ventures in order to keep tourist dollars flowing into mainstream businesses.