Monday, 4 December 2006

Really Responsible Travel

Really Responsible Travel

The travel industry is falling over itself to say how "responsible" it is. is proving very successful.
Lonely Planet has an extensive blurb about travelling responsibly. Many others are doing similar things. They are pretty much all based in wealthy Western nations.
The crux of their claims for "responsibility" is promoting smaller businesses in destination countries. Very worthy, I wholeheartedly agree with this aim.
However, their advertising and affiliate links (on Lonely Planet) are pulling the commissions from peoples hotel / tour / car hire etc. bookings made through their website back into the wealthy countries where they are based, with the poorer destination country missing out on a considerable potential source of revenue.
The internet gives individuals the option of, and power to be being "really responsible". They can book the flight only from their own country, and then find online travel agencies based in their destination country to book hotel rooms, car hire, tours etc.
People will need to do a little research to find out where companies are registered, and that they are legitimate, but in many cases it is not that difficult.
As an example of the problem if you type in "Bangkok Hotels" in Google you will find many non-Thailand based companies in the top 50 rankings.,, are amongst the higher profile companies.There are many reputable Thai based online agencies offering very competitive and reliable booking for the same hotels.
I'm sure that these companies would struggle to come up with a decent answer if you were to suggest that people should use the power of the internet to "shop locally" when booking their travel. They will probably point to their marketing efforts / expertise and expense but much of this is unneccessary with the internet, and a few honest well intentioned soles proividing guidance.
I'm sure many individuals have not even considered this aspect of where their money is going, but would think about it for their future travels.

Important notes:-

I am biased, and have a vested interest in this issue. I run an online travel agency in Thailand I also operate tours and treks in Northern Thailand

However, I am genuinely concerned that the marketing might of the International "big boys" coupled with Googles almost total dominance*, may squeeze out local enterprises, and mean that less wealthy nations may miss out on an opportunity to retain more of the benefit from having visitors.

I am also hypocritical because I sell hotel rooms for countries which are probably poorer than Thailand. I am open to offers on a country by country basis.

* Googles total dominance and the unfortunate affects it has is a totally different story

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