Shedding light on the dark: 5 insights from Vava’u
Many people pay for a tropical paradise escape, however often the ground reality is far from that. Tourism can have various impacts (positive and negative) on the social and cultural dimensions of a destination. My time spent in Vava’u revealed to me more than a few issues that currently face many island communities today. So, here are five important insights I gathered to being a more responsible ‘traveller’:
1. Be culturally sensitive
Respecting the traditional custodies of another culture is essential, whether it be mannerisms, clothing or food. Adapting and immersing in a different culture is not only respectful to hosts but also enriching for you. Experiencing a different culture widens your perspective of the world we live in today.
2. Take time to listen
When you have a position of knowledge or influence, listening can be a powerful tool. It is a privilege to gain rich insight from local people of another country, culture and perspective… so taking some time out to really listen and interpret can make all the difference. Be attentive as conversations can spark change.
3. Education is the key
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandala. So we must not take our own education for granted, we must build it, encourage it and share it with others. In remote and isolated regions, access to education becomes scarce, so providing opportunities that are relevant and feasible on a local scale are most beneficial.
In a country like Tonga, which is founded on religion and culture, sharing is natural. Like education, my advice is to share what you know, share what you learn and share what you love.
5. Appreciate the small things
By small I mean things we often take for granted. Imagine growing up as a child and never have been to a playground…this is a reality for children in Vava’u. So remember to stop and appreciate the small things life has to offer.
So that’s a wrap on my five simple insights to encourage responsible travel for all!