Creating dignified and sustainable livelihoods glocally

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Manifesto of the People-First Tourism Movement

We seek a world where travelers develop deep connections with their hosts, are transformed by the genuine local cultures they experience, and improve the lives of the people they visit.


All people have knowledge and experiences they want to share with others.  This is especially true for hosts who are marginalized and who are often the last bastions of traditional cultures and associated ways of living and knowing.  With mentoring and support, many of these hosts will emerge as successful tourism microentrepreneurs sharing knowledge, passions, and communities with empathetic visitors.

Communities are complex with constantly evolving factions that use their various capitals to compete, complement, and collaborate with each other.  Some people are better equipped than others to embrace opportunities brought by tourism and, as a result, tourism often fails to improve livelihoods of the least resourced members of host communities.  Therefore, there is a need to deliberately plan tourism development in ways that enable equitable prosperity.


Immersive experiences into other ways of living bring perspective on what is important in life and foster tolerance towards others.  Discerning travelers embrace the cultural and physical discomforts inherent to sojourning in unfamiliar places because these experiences help visitors reconsider certainties and embrace diversity.

Visitors are guests in their destination communities. The mobility and affluence of travelers affords them privilege over their hosts and, as a result, they should always behave with appreciation towards locals and ensure that the community benefits from their presence. 

The industry

The tourism industry must pursue business strategies that enable equitable prosperity in host communities.  Predatory business practices lead host communities to resist tourism development because community members feel invaded and exploited, which ultimately damages visitor experiences and the bottom line.  Conversely, discerning travelers want host communities to prosper in the wake of their visits; therefore, an increasingly well-informed marketplace provides competitive advantages to locally responsible companies.

Local governments and organizations

Local governments and grassroots organizations must be persistent in facilitating local participation and ownership of tourism.  Host communities need their leaders and civic organizations to understand economic forces of tourism and to strive to make tourism serve the interests of their constituents.  Civic and democratic processes of community involvement in tourism planning and ownership will ensure that tourism generates long-term culturally appropriate livelihood opportunities to diverse social groups.


Travel writers must act as ambassadors for host communities and cannot simply write what their audiences want to read or what the industry wants to sell. Travel writers inspire travelers to imagine new exciting journeys, influence travel plans, and shape traveler expectations of the destinations they will visit.  Therefore, travel writers must collaborate with hosts to relate the sites, stories, people and culture that the community wants to share with potential visitors.  When travel writers concentrate on magnifying the voices of host communities, they are enabling these communities to harness the power of tourism to improve their lives.


All tourism scholarship must determine how to make tourism a better force for equitable and sustainable development.  Academics, consultants, and other tourism observers know that tourism is often manipulated by commercial interests to achieve short-term self-benefit at the expense of the dignity and prosperity of host communities.  Therefore, taking no side in this unbalanced setting under the guise of scientific neutrality is ethically questionable because it implies complicity with forces and institutions that exploit host communities and destroy the environment. 

Written by: Duarte B. Morais


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  4. I agree that there is a need to plan tourism development in ways that help the local communities. I think that it starts with education for both the hosts and the guests on the subject. That way there will be improvement, and effort from both sides. They can learn what they need to do in order to fix the issue of the livelihood of the host communities. In all, I agree with the statements made in this blog.

  5. I love the idea of the "Influencers" section, but I think some of the verbiage could use an update. Using the term "travel writer" seems a bit restrictive and out-dated. I immediately think of someone writing a magazine article for some media giant, and in that case, they WOULD be writing about what would sell and what the audience would want. With the rise in popularity of blogs over the past decade, it's no longer necessary to work for a big magazine to have people see your work. I think updating the text to read "travel blogger" would be more current and inclusive. With the rise of platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, many bloggers have moved away from strictly writing towards more photo and video content. There are a good number of these bloggers who have developed a large following, and many of them have done so by showcasing locations/activities that sway from the typical tourist trap. These are the type of people who could really get the word out about P1T and this kind of tourism. I think that this is a very important section to include, but updating the term could make it stronger.

  6. Whenever I think of traveling/vacation, I think of a tourist with a camera who, for the next week, is going to spend and waste excessively as well as take upon themselves a sense of carelessness. This carelessness applies not only towards the environment but also towards the host community. It’s a mindset of “how am I going to best benefit from this place and these people?” I’m guilty of this and I’m sure that the majority of travelers are as well which is why P1T is so neat and necessary. The entire manifesto advocates for a sense of responsibility that guests need to embody, “they should always behave with appreciation towards locals and ensure that the community benefits from their presence.” P1T is standing up for the little guy in a society that is dominated by companies who believe that it’s a dog-eat-dog world. I can't wait to see what's next for them!

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  8. I really appreciate seeing the manifesto translated into so many languages. Making the manifesto available to a much larger audience is essential in making this a global movement. If you are interested I would be happy to ask some colleagues to translate this into Spanish. I also feel translating the manifesto into Hindi, Arabic and more of the most spoken languages in the world will further this movement.

  9. Throughout this manifesto, the "hosts" section really stuck out to me. No one knows a destination better than the person who calls that place home. It is important for the people who live through that culture to share their knowledge and passion with visitors. I feel as if it makes the visitors have a sense of connection with the locals and it will allow them to appreciate the experience more.

  10. I think one of the biggest problems in tourism today is the idea of tourists being special guests. Yes, I think its important for locals to make tourists feel welcomed and wanted, but treating tourists in a special way to milk money out of them feeds into the idea of communities selling themselves to tourism. A community that operates around its guests loses itself and a focus on the local people and what they want and need. Tourists should visit a place and seek to blend in, not be served by the community. Hosts should make guests feel welcome, but not be forced to change their routines or their ways to accommodate tourists. When they do that, tourists lose the gift of experiencing a place for what it truly is. Idealistic tourism would be if tourists could be a fly on the wall, not interrupting or influencing the local culture. I agree with what this manifesto says, that guests should embrace the discomfort of being in a strange place, and that they should always be thankful and grateful to their hosts and the community.

  11. I also agree with the need to increase tourist development to help the local communities because this is where the profit will come from. If you don't build on the community and enhance it more; tourist won't be interested. Nobody wants to tour a place that's worn out or not appealing. I think that it should start with the plan to improve education because that's where the future realtors, sales associates, lawyers, doctors, teachers, etc. lies. Second I would work on building new buildings for art, history and also shopping centers and convenient stores to help make the community more appealing and interesting for tourist.

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