Tag Archives: tourism

“Children Are Not Tourist Attractions”

So, I know that I promised I was going to do my best to not talk about the negative things that are taking place in the tourism industry but this is one that I just cannot ignore. I am  taking a sustainable tourism course at my college, Metropolitan State University of Denver,  and on Tuesday we had a guest speaker that opened my eyes to this very issue of Orphanage Tourism.

So, what is it? The best way that I know how to put it into my own words is the exploitation of children in organized orphanages to gain a profit from tourism dollars. Some of these children may very well have families and are essentially taken by the orphanage to give them a “better life”. This thought of giving your child up may seem completely unrealistic but in many cases these families are already immensely struggling with providing their children with basic necessesties let alone guaranteed food, shelter and even education. Another major problem with orphanage tourism is the impacts it is creating on the children. In some cases many are abused, mistreated and not allowed to go to school/eat. Additionally, these children are being exposed to a new group of tourists every day/week/month. Not only is this creating severe attachment issues but is also creating abandonment, trauma, and instability in the childrens’ lives. Even more intensely, in some cases, this is creating a link to human trafficking. Many of these children do not have a lot of options when they become adults and typically are not highly educated. They also tend to have developmental and psychological issues. The combination of these things may lead to reliance on prostitution as a means to survive.

By visiting this type of orphanage, with the best intentions of helping the children and providing donations to the center, is the very thing that is fueling the demand for this industry to keep doing what it is doing. I genuinely urge you before you decide to volunteer or donate to a childrens shelter, DO YOUR RESEARCH! I have attached a link from Friends International that gives you list of questions when evaluating an institution. Here are a few:

1. Is the orphanage legally registered with the government

2. Does the orphanage have a child protection policy

3. Are visitors allowed to just drop in and have direct access to the children

4. Does the orphanage have an active family reunification program …

Before making the decision to volunteer your time or give up your hard earned money to such a beautiful cause of helping orphaned children please keep this issue in mind. Yes, there are very helpful and legitimate organizations in the world that do deserve your time and money. One by one, we can change the demand for this industry by consciously choosing not to support them. Remember, “Children Are Not Tourist Attractions”

Once again, sorry for the downer post. However, I feel that this is a major issue that needs a voice and needs to be shared and exposed. After reading this, next time you think about volunteering or traveling to volunteer you will do your research? Is this something that you believe can be stopped?


http://www.thinkchildsafe.org/en/content/tip4/qna.html (link to research questions)

http://www.thinkchildsafe.org/thinkbeforevisiting/ (more info on orphanage tourism)

Is Brazil’s Middle Class Rising?

As I have begun my research and networking to learn more about Brazil before I go to work there this summer, I have been continually told “there is a large upper class and a very large low class and no middle class”. This spurred a thought. As we know Brazil has the 6th largest economy in the world and is growing rapdily so how can such a large economy have no middle class? (I also want to research and understand why this idea exsits… future blog post?)

This is not so much the truth anymore or is it? According to the recent article that I have linked, Brazil’s middle class now comprises 52% of the population. They base this off a monthly income of R$291 to R$1019 per month. However, based on the current exchange rate that is $148.33 to $519 american per month. And I have heard that it is also not so cheap to live there. So this leads me to wonder how fair and accurate their definition of middle class is and if it is better and what that means to the people?

One refeshing quote that I do take from this article reads, “It’s essential to have an environment that promotes the participation of the middle class in economic growth. For this to occur, we need productive, well-paid and low turnover jobs. We must also ensure equality in opportunities, openness to dialogue and appropriate conditions for health and safety”…. It is going to be extremely interesting to see how Brazil’s development unfolds (and I get to see it first hand this summer-will keep you posted!)

Thoughts? Have you experienced this in your travels to Brazil, what was it like?



Awana Kancha. Promoting Sustainable Development.

While travelling throughout Perú it is easy to recognize the major tourism industry that has been developed and counted upon my many native Peruvians. Many locals and their families have come to rely solely upon tourism and the support that it provides for their families and communities. In a report, “Peru’s Tourism Cluster-Macroeconomics of Competitiveness”, it is stated, “since 2004 tourism arrivals have grown 12% annually, over three times as fast as average growth rates in the world” (World Economic Forum, 2009). This paints a picture to show how impactful this industry has become for Perú and its citizens. Keeping this in mind it is of utmost importance for tourists to become aware of the impacts their decisions can make on the people, the environment and who they are supporting. By making the choice to travel responsibly when in Perú, you are able to help sustain and help preserve the livelihoods of this unique and wondrous culture. One such outfit that resonated with me and is a beautiful example of sustaining and supporting local community is Awana Kancha: Museo Viviente del Ande.

What is Awana Kancha and how are they creating positive impacts in the lives of the natives through the tourism industry? Awana Kancha in Quecha means the “Palace for the Weaver” . The vision began in 1989 when three brothers travelled throughout Perú searching to embody the richness of Peruvian life. In 1998, they opened the doors to what they now call the “first living museum of the living Ande”. The brothers recognized the importance of the llama, alpaca and vicuña to the native people and wanted to exemplify this to the tourist population. They also wanted to make the Peruvian camel accessible to tourists in its natural environment. In doing this, they have created an operation that is associated with over fourteen local communites consisting of over 420 families. This project embodies the entire process of dying, spinning and weaving which has been an ongoing tradition for the native people for many years. Lastly, you are able to purchase the high quality textiles on-site where 100% of the proceeds goes back to the local community.

My experience at Awana Kancha was unique. This place has resounded with me since I have returned home. Going to Perú with the intention of being a witness to the tourism industry and hoping that I was not seeing the country being exploited by irresponsible tourists, this was refreshing to observe. I was excited to learn that Peruvian culture to the natives is one that is highly cherished and will continually be preserved. Awana Kancha is one impactful way that this was showed to me during my travels.

When travelling the world or even at home, when we are creating our own human footprint it is important to become aware of the impacts that we are making on the earth and its people. To support local projects such as Awana Kancha creates small yet very impactful change in the world. To respect a foreign culture and to cherish and help preserve its beauty should always be a priority and this has been illustrated through the efforts of the people associated with this project.